By: Joshua Tijerina
Lots of responses on social media about RFRA. Some involve telling me that I’m a bigot whom they hate, and that my religion has no place in “their” America. No joke! I can’t make that stuff up. The irony of them telling me how they hate me, but only because I support a law that protects people of faith is . . . well . . . mystifying. Nevertheless, there is a point to clarify.
Will RFRA be used to discriminate?
No. As I stated in my blog here, RFRA has never been successfully used as a defense of discrimination against the LGBT. You wouldn’t know it from the misinformation hitting the airwaves by those that oppose religious freedom, but the assertion is true. 22 years of the law on the books and no discrimination.
“But isn’t it true that a RFRA could be used to refuse LGBT from services?”
Again, there have not been any instances where a business has refused to serve a person based on their sexual orientation. Take the popular case involving Barronelle Stutzman, a florist. Barronelle lovingly served her friend Rob Ingersoll, who she knew identified as gay, and his partner for nearly 10 years. She arranged flowers that the couple sent to one another for birthdays and other occasions. In one very specific instance, when Rob asked her to design the flowers for his same-sex wedding, Barronelle gently told him that because of what her faith teaches her about marriage she could not use her artistic talents to celebrate a same-sex wedding, and she kindly referred him to other florists who she knew would do a good job for him. Does that mean that she was turning LGBT people away at the door and not serving them? Absolutely not, did not happen, and again, she served the same-sex couple for years and she and Rob counted each other as friends.
The important conclusion is that no one should be forced by the government to violate his or her faith. This is what makes RFRA so important, but those that oppose religious freedom are at work using misinformation to stop this.
In fact, those who oppose religious freedom have already exposed their intolerance for people of faith. For instance, Kelvin Cochran, the former Fire Chief of Atlanta, was fired for self-publishing a religious book that briefly mentioned biblical teaching regarding non-marital sexual conduct, including homosexuality, amidst a host of other topics. I wrote about this case in my post, The Evolution of Anti-Christian Activism. Please read, because the point here is that Kelvin was fired for simply believing in natural marriage. He didn’t do anything. He never once discriminated against LGBT, and that was proven true after an investigation by the city.
Kelvin’s case illustrates how the opposition is not trying to stop discrimination of LGBT; rather they are trying to stop a law from protecting religious freedom. This is the true voice behind the opposition. In their mind you should not be able to exercise your faith outside of your home or church. You should not exercise your faith in any way that offends their beliefs (even if it offends yours). And now, considering Kelvin’s case, you should not be able to believe in the tenets of your faith at all.
Not having RFRA is not an option. The majority of Americans support religious freedom, and that majority voice needs to be heard now. We need to stand up and demand that our leaders protect religious freedom. Speak up. Speak out. And flip this script in public opinion.
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