Common Word, Common Lord

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

I have been watching with amazement the political rhetoric of some politicians who vow to defend “religious liberty.” In several states, politicians have either enacted, or tried to enact, laws that are clearly discriminatory against LGBT fellow citizens, in the name of “religious liberty.” The latest is Mississippi, which passed a law, HB 1523, which:

promises that the state government will not punish people who refuse to provide services to people because of a religious opposition to same-sex marriage, extramarital sex or transgender people.

How can this not be considered discriminatory? How is this any different than refusing to serve a client who is Muslim, or African-American, or has attached earlobes? Can you imagine what would happen if a Muslim business owner refused to serve an LBGT client out of his “religious beliefs”? There would be howls of protest that these Muslims are seeking to “impose Sharia law” on the rest of the country. In fact, one such site has it’s first sentence of the article saying: “Muslims are determined to push their religious doctrines on the American people.”

Yet, more than one state is seeking to protect individuals who refuse to serve people due to their sexual orientation, in the name of “religious freedom.” Isn’t that “pushing religious doctrine” on other people, as well? Moreover, what about all the states that have laws banning “Sharia”? What about the religious freedom of Muslims?

Religious freedom is sacred in our country; it is one of the most beautiful aspects of America, and it is one of the things about which I am most grateful to God for being an American and living in America. Yet, my religious freedom does not give me the right to discriminate against other people.

For example, I do not drink, out of my religious beliefs. But, I would NEVER refuse to treat someone in my ICU for alcohol withdrawal because his or her actions “violate my religious beliefs.” If any doctor ever did that, Muslim or otherwise, he or she would be wrong and unethical. Period. And, for the record, if a Muslim business owner would refuse to serve an LGBT customer, in the name of Islam, I stand against that. That customer is a human being with dignity and deserves respect, regardless of his or her race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.

Although it is 2016, we still grapple, as a nation, with issues of racism and discrimination. It is quite troubling that, now, some politicians are using “religious liberty” as a cover to shield that discimination. As a person of faith, it is quite troubling indeed.

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