It is understood that the US took its core democratic premise and understanding of liberty from English Philosophers/Theorists John Locke and Francis Hutchison. Principles of Natural Law, and the concept that no one should interfere with another’s life, health, liberty or possessions were some of the main points used as basis for the foundation of The United States of America. Our Declaration of Independence cites plainly that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Locke believed that governments and the majority rule needed to be kept in check, and that the way to do so is by protecting and preserving individual liberties. This would be the individual liberties for all… because we’re all created equal right?
The first amendment of our constitutions “prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.” Simplified, that second part of the establishment clause prohibits the US government from preferring any one religion over another or “forcing” people into having specific religious beliefs. We work to foster freedom across the board in this nation.
Now with all that said and understood, I can put across my point.
I’ve seen the term “Religious Liberties” thrown around quite a lot lately when it comes to people who decide they cannot fulfill their jobs duties because of their religious beliefs. They clamor to protect their “right” to choose who they provide service to. Now we are all about protecting individual liberties, but here is the problem with what these people want. They are basically wanting the “right” to openly discriminate and not be held accountable. They are wanting to force their views on others, and they want to discipline others for not adhering to THEIR personal belief system.
I think its stretching things when people start believing that our whole society should begin being expected to tailor each individual’s job to their unique set of religious beliefs, for even the most basic of services. To start allowing people to claim “religious liberty” as a means to discriminate against another person just because they hold differing beliefs is going overboard. Especially when the beliefs they disagree with are totally unrelated, and have nothing to do with to the business interaction that is being asked of them. To be quite honest, the whole idea is simply unprofessional and childish.
Bakers that won’t bake cakes, florists that won’t arrange flowers, and clerks that refuse to issue a document, should plainly be fired. The point that they can’t bring themselves to perform the same simple duty that they perform every other single day, all because of the “kind” of people they are having to “deal” with — is simply an excuse used to justify their discriminatory biases publicly. I’m not sure how their attitude can be seriously taken as anything other than discrimination? Whether these “Religious” individuals want to admit it or not, that is actually them forcing their beliefs on others rather than the other way around.
There is a problem when people throw around phrases like “Religious Liberty” and don’t understand what it even means. The whole point of Religious Liberty is that you are allowed to have your own belief system, and to practice it, and assemble with others that share those beliefs. If those points are being threatened, then yeah.. bring up your grievance, and stand up for your “Religious Liberty”. However if you are being “forced” to do your regular job, performing the same simple duties that you are fine to you do every other day for anyone else, then that is not an attack on your “Religious Liberty”, that is merely an exhibited limitation of your own personal character over being able to separate your personal biases from your work performance. At that point If you are simply being asked to do something that you do every other day, something you get compensated for.. that is not violating your “religious” rights, that is actually you violating others rights.
What really makes it clear that it is plain discrimination is when the simple duty you are being asked to perform, causes no physical or emotional harm to others and has no bearing on your own personal life and you still choose to refuse service. To put it simply, in order to bake a cake, to arrange flowers, or to process a marriage certificate, those duties do not require you personally to become involved sexually with that individual. It does not require you to attend their church services. It does not require that you learn to speak their language, and it does not require you to even like that person. All it requires you to do is the same simple tasks that you’ve been willing to do for others who have come in. To perform the duties that your chosen “profession” is expected to do. If you cannot, then the issue is you and if you can’t overcome it, then its time for you to get a different job and allow someone more well-rounded and deserving to be paid for doing honest work.
To me its all pretty simple. If aspects of your job make you feel you are betraying your beliefs.. then that means its time for you to quit that job and move on. No attention or showcasing is really needed. A job is a job, take it or leave it. Being “Religious” shouldn’t give you the right to openly discriminate against someone and not get called out on it.
Another thing people aren’t seeming to understand is actually what “Liberty” means.
Liberty is really supposed to be about creating balance for all so that freedom can be realized. Its supposed to be about the fact that all people are “created equal” and should all have the basic rights.
As long as someone’s lifestyle choices don’t involve killing or abuse of others, then its really not any of your business. We are supposed to not impede or interfere with someone else’s way of life and personal beliefs, and pursuit of happiness. Liberty is about protecting ones right to chose their own way. To allow the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges. Having your marriage recognized is one of those basic rights.
If you believe its part of your “Liberty” to control others, or to dish out discipline for someone not adhering to YOUR way of life, then you are misinformed on the meaning of what liberty is, and you don’t deserve to use the word at all.