Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Religious liberty belongs to all of us, not just to clergy and churches; Forfeiting constitutional rights is not the price of going into business for yourself

The reason the [religious liberty] bills are controversial is because a generation of Americans reared in a statist society and taught false history and civics cannot understand what religious liberty means. They think of it as “a cloak for prejudice,” as washed-up Star Trek actor George Takei described the Arizona bill on MSNBC.
Thus Benny Huang hits the nail on the head.
Allow me to summarize the Left’s position: they’re all for religious liberty and all that, but you can’t discriminate!

I always ask the same question: Why not?

There is no clause in the Constitution that says that religious freedom must yield to someone else’s fanciful right to flowers or wedding cakes. If liberals would like to insert that exception into the Constitution they’re welcome to go through the process of amending the Constitution. All it takes is two thirds of both houses and three quarters of the state legislatures. As it stands now, the First Amendment is not qualified with a “but you can’t discriminate” clause.

There’s always a “but” with these left-wingers. They adore freedom of the press but the government has to rein in Fox News. The Second Amendment is grand but it must yield to “public safety” concerns. They care deeply about free speech but you can’t engage in hate speech. But, but, but. The never ending stream of “buts” allows them to pay lip service to our Constitutional rights while simultaneously violating the letter and the spirit thereof.

Protecting citizens from this type of coercion is exactly what the free exercise clause was designed to do. Sometimes religious minorities (and we’re all religious minorities in this country) have beliefs and practices that other people find offensive. The purpose of the Amendment is to protect the unpopular beliefs and practices. If it doesn’t apply here then it isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

When liberals tell you that your church will not and cannot be forced to perform same-sex weddings, they’re making a tacit admission that discrimination is, in fact, part and parcel of religious liberty. So it isn’t really a question of whether constitutional protections extend to discriminatory practices but rather who is entitled to constitutional protections. Bishops have full protection but not bakers, pastors but not photographers.

Which is nonsense, of course. Religious liberty belongs to all of us, not just to clergy and churches. Forfeiting constitutional rights is not the price of going into business for yourself.

Liberals’ confidence that no church will ever be forced to perform a same-sex wedding probably stems from their belief in the mythical “separation of church and state” clause of the Constitution. I call it “mythical” because it’s not there. Look it up. According to this argument, a law compelling churches to perform same-sex weddings would be unconstitutional because the state would be overstepping its boundaries into the realm of the church, but a bakery is not a church so different rules apply. 
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