Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Sermon

The Talibanisation of America

The Arizona state Senate approved legislation Wednesday permitting businesses in the state to refuse service to potential customers based on an owner’s religious beliefs. The bill, known officially as Senate Bill 1062, was approved by the Republican-controlled Senate. Part of the bill reads:
“ 'Exercise of religion' means the practice or observance of religion, including the ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.”

The bill, which has a counterpart in the state House of Representatives known as HB 2153, was written by the conservative Center for Arizona Policy and Alliance Defending Freedom –  Christian lobby group that dedicates funding to the pro-life movement and has long opposed marriage equality. States such as Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee,  Ohio, Mississippi, and Oklahoma and even liberal Oregon  have considered similar legislation. Republicans in Kansas’ lower house passed a bill that would have effectively allowed Christian business owners or employees the right to deny service to same-sex couples. The language of the bill would have allowed restaurants, for instance, to deny service to “any marriage, domestic partnership,” or “civil union” that “would be contrary to the sincerely held religious beliefs of the individual or religious entity regarding sex or gender.” Thankfully, the bill was killed in the Senate.

“This is a deliberate strategy as gay people are getting greater rights, to take away those rights and be able to discriminate,” says Eunice Rho of the American Civil Liberties Union. “You can have marriage, but you have no right to the privileges that come with that.”

EJ Montini, a columnist with the Arizona Republic, said that SB 1062 sets a dangerous precedent for people of various backgrounds.
“Essentially what it would do is allow people to refuse service to people who may be gay, who may be of certain religious affiliations - we don’t know, there could be a lot of exposure in this particular bill- only because they have a particular religious belief,” he said. “We really have no issue like this in Arizona and this is extremists in the legislature essentially appeasing zealots out in the community...It is the most ungodly way to view religious freedom.”

The Christian Right has focused its efforts on conflating discrimination with “religious discrimination.” These bills are discriminatory and hateful. These religious objections are nothing new. The Confederates invoked the Bible to defend slavery, and religious reasons were used to oppose the Civil Rights Act. 

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