Playing the Religious Freedom Card

Here’s the bottom line:

Yes, most businesses will see the wisdom in keeping their religion to themselves. Yes, this law will only be exercised by a tiny fringe of business owners. Yes, everyone has the freedom not to give their money to these fringe businesses.

I think we are both in agreement up to here.

From this point, my position is this: as a person of faith, you have the freedom to believe and worship whatever you’d like, so long as it does not become an incursion on the outer social civilized world. If we were talking about certain tenets of Islam, you would agree with me. These business owners that are making a fuss are (as certain conservative Christians tend to do) playing the victims, looking to government to make laws that say all should tolerate their religious intolerance.

This distorts the tenet of religious liberty that’s part of the foundation of this country. It bends the boundaries of this freedom to the breaking point and, like we do when a child misbehaves or is publicly acting selfish, it has to be told, “No, we don’t do that here,”…’here’ in this case being the public space.

(As an aside, let’s not forget the incredible irony in the actions of these fringe business owners – they’re indeed making a mockery of Jesus and his central message of love, do unto others, and raging against the splinter in their neighbor’s eye while ignoring the log in their own. We can debate that another day, though.)

On the level of the individual, one can think and worship what they’d like. That’s a freedom and liberty that can and should never be taken away. The rules for ‘freedom’ change, however, once we step foot into the public square. For certain things, people need to be told, “If you’re out here, we don’t do that.”


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