Religious Freedom in America

The United States of America is still a country where it’s possible for all people, of all colors, religions, and ideologies, to live together as one. Given the condition our nation is in, it may seem unreasonable to believe our first statement, but we firmly believe people will evolve past this state of division and learn to move forward together without alienating others for who they are, where they come from, or what they believe.

The Supreme Court recently ruled on a case where the owner of a bakery denied service to a homosexual couple due to religious objections. We won’t discuss the case in much detail but you can read up on it here and learn about what the ruling means for businesses, consumers, and how it might affect discrimination and religious-freedom laws in the future.

This article stands as our position on the case.

We believe that the majority of entities presenting themselves as a service to the public should have to forfeit personal rights when they pertain to certain aspects of individuality–personal beliefs being one of them. These entities include corporations, governments, public service enterprises, and businesses, and exclude places like churches, mosques, or religiously accredited schools and such. While we think religious entities should have restrictions to what they are allowed or not allowed to do (i.e. rituals that include murder or abuse, or being able to pay a fair share in taxes are a couple of examples off the top of my head), the remaining entities should abide by the law regardless of ideological perspectives.

We think the laws regarding religious freedom should apply to the individual and not public entities. It may set a dangerous precedent when people use religious beliefs to defend actions deemed reprehensible by law/society. Take for instance some of the marijuana churches in Indiana. They were cleared as a religious entity and therefore allowed to smoke pot legally, regardless of the law, so long as they did so in their “churches.” While we don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, we wonder where the line is being drawn?

People in the 60’s refused service to others because they believed their religion allowed them to do so. They prohibited women from having similar rights to men and restricted their ability to vote because of what’s in the Bible. Also, similar defenses of religious ideology occurred when our ancestors enslaved Africans–they justified the beatings, rapes, murders, etc. with scripture all while claiming god wanted it that way. Times have changed and we now know those beliefs were wrong, but who can say we won’t revert or use religious ideology to defend bigotry, oppression, and violence (it’s still happening)?

In this particular case, the owner of the bakery did the majority of the work supplying cakes to his customers. He, as an individual, is entitled to his beliefs, but we think his individual perceptions should be separate from his business because his business is approved by the state and not the church. He can disagree with the laws and homosexuality on his own time but his business should not. Businesses should not share in the views of the person, even if it does have some stake in representing them as individuals.

There is also a difference between first amendment rights and discrimination. Since the baker provides a public service, he is allowed to refuse making a cake if he sees fit based on the services the entity provides. For example, let’s say that his shop only makes cakes with yellow frosting. If a customer requests chocolate frosting, he is allowed to deny service without getting into trouble with the law because it is not in the business’ parameters of service. It is similar to a bakery that makes cakes for children and refusing to put vulgar designs or words on the cake–refusal of service can be acceptable if it is a product or service that the entity does not provide which would not be considered discrimination. Discrimination occurs when an entity refuses service based on the people requesting it vs. what they requested.

Religious people are taught to follow the laws their god made vs. the laws of man, so it can be hard to get them to follow society’s changes or new rules. Telling them not to own a business is like telling the gay couple in the case to go elsewhere if they don’t like the way they’re being treated–it simply causes more discrimination of either, or both sides. Imagine a world where you had to shop around because some places won’t serve you based on your looks or what you believe. Maybe you like the Walgreen’s down the block, but the only one that will allow “your kind” is 30 miles down the road…not very fair.

With all of that being said, it’s still difficult trying to impose our ideology because it kind of sounds like we want to trample on the rights of the baker. That’s not true in the slightest though. We merely want to honor separation of church and state (religion and public service entities) without oppressing religious & non-religious beliefs.

We don’t necessarily want to make impositions that the baker change his way of thinking or abandon his religion, rather, have him and other business owners learn to separate individual rights and the rights of the public, forgoing their desires to enforce religious ideologies by discrimination of others and do those things outside of business hours if they see fit (we’re not condoning that behavior at all). Society would likely function more efficiently if there weren’t ideological roadblocks causing endless anger, hatred, and violence. Plus, in the long run, isn’t the purpose of a business to make money? Money doesn’t care what your sexuality is or who you’re marrying and if it were us who owned the shop, we’d welcome as much green as people are willing to give.

There are many holes in our argument and we left it that way intentionally because we want to hear what our readers have to say on the matter.

Please post you thoughts in the comments section!

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3 thoughts on “Religious Freedom in America”

  1. One objective of a well written article is to peak the interest of your readers and to keep them engaged. Nicely done!

  2. The objective of a well written article is to peak the reader’s attention and keep them reading. Job well done!

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