The new, inverted meaning for the terms
"religious freedom" and "religious liberty."
"religious freedom of belief"
"religious freedom to control, discriminate
denigrate and/or oppress others"
of the Golden Rule.
Religious Freedom Restoraton Acts (RFRAs).
A customer's imaginary exchange between a shopper and a supermarket cashier:
In a state that has a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which allows store owners and employees to discriminate on the basis of their sincerely held religious beliefs, the following exchange might occur between a customer and cashier at the checkout:
"I'm Catholic, so I won't be able to sell you those condoms. You will have to go to Register 5;
but she is Muslim, so she won't sell you that ham. You will have to go to Register 1;
but she is a Mormon, so she won't sell you those cans of Pepsi. You will have to go to Register 9;
but she's a Jehovah's Witness, so she won't sell you that birthday card. You will have to go to Register 3;
but he's an Atheist, so he won't sell you that Bible. You will have to go to Register 2.
but she's a Southern Baptist, so she won't sell you anything, because of the LGBT ribbon and pro-choice button you are wearing. You will have to go to Register 7.
Fortunately, Register 7 is staffed by a non-religious person who believes in tolerance, equality, and the Golden Rule. He will sell you anything you want because he doesn't hide his bigotry behind religion.
Have a nice day."
Actually, from my personal experience with Atheists, it is very unlikely that one would refuse to sell a Bible. He would probably discount it as a work of creative fiction.
The transition from religious freedom of belief to religious freedom to hurt others:
we noticed a radical drift in the definition of both "religious freedom" and its near-synonym "religious liberty:"
The terms changed meaning:
- FROM the historical meaning: the freedom of religious belief, speech, practice, assembly, and proselytizing by believers. At the time, attacks on personal religious freedom typically:
- Involved governments or larger faith groups as perpetrators, and
- Involved smaller faith groups or individuals as victims.
- TO the new freedom sought by some faith groups or believers to apply their beliefs in a way that oppresses or denigrates
others, discriminates against them, and/or to mount political campaigns to deny
them equal rights. These attacks typically:
Religious freedom once referred mostly to the believers' right to express religious ideas and to engage in religious
practices. Now it is becoming mostly
about the freedom for individuals, store owners, or religious groups to take actions that discriminate against others by limiting other people's human rights and freedoms, without incurring negative consequences themselves.
The terms "religious freedom" and "religious liberty" have been turned on their head, and few seem to have noticed.
People who exercise their religious freedom to discriminate rarely connect their actions to Jesus' words in two Gospels -- Matthew and Luke -- where he commands his followers to obey what is now called the Golden Rule. It is sometimes expressed:
"We are to do unto others as we hope they would do unto us in return."
That fundamental moral precept is found in all of the major religions in the world, secular belief systems, and many philosophical writings.
In short, the term religious freedom is rapidly changing from personal beliefs to discriminatory actions, in violaton of the Golden Rule. When this new form of religous freedom to discriminate is exercised by store owners who are in business to provide products or services to the general public, they sometimes find themselves in conflict with municipal, state, or federal human rights laws.
Topics covered in this section:
Scope and meaning of the terms "religious freedom" and "religious liberty"
Years 2010 until now: The new "religious freedom to discriminate" laws in various states.
Some of the following links are to essays that describe new "religious freedom to discriminate" bills in various states. Others describe owners of for-profit businesses who have:
- Run afoul of existing state or municipal human rights laws, and
- Violated the Golden Rule,
because they have refused goods and/or services to customers because of the owner's deeply held and sincere religious beliefs:
Year 2010: Federal hate crime and employment discrimination bills. Transit ads in Toronto.
Year 2011: An Apple app; Ontario Catholic schools. Kansas House passes bill.
Year 2012: New Hampshire: Catholic Church and HHS birth control mandate. Hawaii: Civil unions.
Year 2013: Arizona: Part 1: House passes discrimination bill.
- Part 1: Kansas: Second try. Fails again in the Senate.
- Part 2: Tennessee House passes discrimination bill; Senate delays it.
- Part 2: Arizona Legislature passes discrimination bill. Reactions. Is Arizona's SB 1062 bill really needed?
- Part 3: More reactions to Arizona's bill. Again, is it really needed?
- Part 4: Massive opposition & some support for bill SB 1062
- Part 5: Opposition & support continues
- Part 6: Arizona Governor vetoes "license to discriminate" bill SB 1062 bill!
- Part 7: Review of other states' anti-gay legislation. What groups are generating these bills?
- Part 8: Three factors that are rarely considered in this type of legislation
- Part 9: Mississippi "Religious freedom bill SB 2681" (aka "License to Discriminate" and "Turn Away
- Part 10: Quotes. House Committee passed revised version of SB 2681. Webmaster's note. Bill signed into law
- Part 11: Details about SB 2681. Reactions
- Part 12: More reactions to SB 2681
- Part 13: Still more reactions to SB 2681
- Part 14: Even more reactions to SB 2681
- Part 15: More instances of discrimination by public accommodations Sorry, this essay has dissapeared. We are looking for it.
Many dozens of "religious freedom to discriminate and denigrate" bills were filed in many U.S. states. There are too many for us to handle thoroughly. We have elected to select only a few high-profile "freedom to hate and denigrate" bills below:
- New York State: 2016-JAN: A "freedom-to-discriminate" court ruling in upstate New York
State found in favor of a married same-sex couple. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
- Tennessee: 2016-JAN: A state law was passed to allow counselors, therapists, and mental health professionals to refuse service to LGBT people, atheists, divorced people, literally anyone, by simply claiming that it violates their "sincerely held religious beliefs." Signed into law in late April. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
- North Carolina: 2016: The City of Charlotte amended its human rights law to include protection for the transgender community. The state legislature killed the ordinance, and similar ordinances in other NC cities, with a law that also wipes out protection for persons discriminated against on the basis of their religion, skin color, race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientatinon, etc. The media focused on the "bathroom" aspects of the bill to the exclusion of other effects. Few noticed. Various court decisions.
- Georgia: 2016-MAR: Religious liberty to discriminate bills: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8
- British Columbia, Canada: 2013-2016-JUN: Religiously motivated discrimination against the LGBT community by the Trinity Western (TWU) law school. Part 1 Part 2
- Washington State: Law requires pharmacies to not discriminate against customers seeking emergency contraception: Part 1 Part 2
- Mississippi: "Religious freedom to discriminate" bill signed into law and later declared unconstitutional by a federal district court. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
- Federal bill: FADA (The First Amendment Defense Act): All points of view: Some view it as defending
the freedom of religion; others as defending people's
& denigrate others on the basis of sexual orientation and sexual behavior.
- 2016-AUG: Indiana Mother defends beating her child on state religious freedom law
- 2016-SEP: Iowa couple accused of bigotry & hatred
- 2014 to now: Northern Ireland: Bakery violates Equality Law of discrimination in cake-baking case. Bill filed to allow discrimination
- 2016-DEC: An Indiana custom calligraphy store is in conflict with state human rights legislation
- 2016: Owners of a custom calligraphy
studio attempt to overturn Phoenix AZ's human rights
ordinance: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
- Year 2017: As this year begins, the fad in state legislatures seems to be "bathroom bills:"
Other aspects of the religious freedom to discriminate:
Details of specific cases exercising the freedom to discriminate against others:
A recommended book:
Robert Boston, "Taking Liberties: Why Religious Freedom Doesn't Give You the Right to Tell Other People What to Do"
Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. Available on 2016-AUG-26, for $15.45 plus postage in Paperback; for $7.41 in Kindle format .
Amazon.com book description:
"Increasingly, conservative religious groups are using religious liberty as a sword to lash out at others. In this forcefully argued defense of the separation of church and state, Robert Boston makes it clear that the religious freedom guaranteed in the First Amendment is an individual right, the right of personal conscience, not a license allowing religious organizations to discriminate against and control others. The book examines the controversy over birth control, same-sex marriage, religion in public schools, the intersection of faith and politics, and the 'war on Christmas,' among other topics.
Boston concludes with a series of recommendations for resolving clashes between religious liberty claims and individual rights."
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- This was a posting by an reader of an article on Topic.com who identified themselves only as "anneutral." It is dated 2012-FEB-15. The quote was apparently later picked up by others, attributed incorrectly to President Obama, expanded, and "liked" or re-blogged by more than 28,000 other web sites. See: "Rick Santorum Wants to Fight 'The Dangers Of Contraception,' at: http://www.topix.com/ for the original posting.
- From the King James Version of the Bible. Other translations differ.
- "Using Religion to Discriminate," ACLU, at: https://www.aclu.org/
- Shadee Ashtari, "Kansas State House Passes Bill Allowing Refusal Of Services To Same-Sex Couples," 2014-FEB-12, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
- Chas Sisk, "TN lawmakers drop wedding vendors bill," The Tennessean, 2014-FEB-18, at: http://www.tennessean.com/
- Paul Guequierre, "New Extreme Cincinnati Archdiocese Teacher Contract Takes Anti-LGBT Discrimination to a New Level," Human Rights Campaign, 2014-MAR-18, at: http://www.hrc.org/
Copyright © 2009 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on
Originally written: 2009-DEC-08
Latest update: 2016-DEC-06
Author: B.A. Robinson