How would you like to walk into a diner, sit yourself down at the counter, and order a coffee and apple pie only to be told you have the wrong skin color? It wasn't very long ago that such a scenario was the reality across much of the United States. Recently, the Arizona legislature passed a bill which would similarly allow business owners to discriminate against LGBT people on the basis of personal religious belief. A closer look shows several serious ethical problems with the bill, and these should be a red flag for any minister ordained online.
What Is Bill 1062?
In order to identify these problems, it helps to take a brief look at what the bill says. Bill 1062, which was passed by Arizona's Republican-controlled senate on the 19th of February with a 17-13 vote, is a revision of the state statute regulating the basis for exercising religious freedom claims in a lawsuit. Current law only allows religious organizations to decline services on the basis of religious belief, but the revised law would allow individual business owners to do so also. Arizona Sen. St
eve Yarbrough (R) drafted the bill after several state courts ruled Christian business owners were violating human rights by discriminating against LGBT people.
Where It Begins to Fall Apart
This "religious freedom" argument is not as watertight as it seems, though. If business owners should be allowed to discriminate against LGBT customers, why shouldn't Muslims be allowed to discriminate against Christians? After all, Muslims could claim that serving Christians conflicts with their religious conscience. Furthermore, if business owners should be allowed to discriminate against LGBT customers, why is there no push to also be allowed to discriminate against unmarried parents, pagans, divorced people, women who have had abortions, or non-Christians? Serving such individuals violates one's religious convictions the same as serving LGBT customers. As we can see, taking this argument to its logical conclusion shows its absurdity.
The Universal Life Church's Stance
The Universal Life Church has long championed the cause of religious freedom, but it has also stalwartly admonished against the folly of religious tyranny. True religious freedom means the right to exercise your religion in peace and harmony while also respecting the freedoms of others. It does not mean steamrolling over their freedoms; it does not mean controlling every aspect of their lives; and it is not a free pass to do whatever you want on the grounds of personal faith. Religious freedom ends when it seeks dominion over the basic freedoms of others.
Arizona's "religious freedom" bill might more accurately be called a "religious tyranny" bill. It should concern all ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church who value the freedom of equal protection as much as religious freedom. Hopefully Gov. Jan Brewer will do the right thing and veto the bill before it becomes law.
Guardian Liberty Voice