In a country based on personal and religious freedom, I find it interesting that we, as Americans, even entertain such concepts as the one presented in SB 142, the Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act. Last Thursday, constituants congregated on the Capitol steps to protest the bill, which allows business owners and various service providers to deny service to patrons whose actions/lifestyles defy their respective religious tenets. While stating that race, gender or ethnicity cannot be a factor in refusal of services or goods, the bill specifically omits guidlines regarding members of the LBGT community, and would serve to protect business owners in lawsuits resultant of denied service.
The business owners in question are largely comprised of Protestant/Evangelical backgrounds, and have proposed this bill in response to a growing number of LBGT patrons…but give or take a religious nuance here and there, a protestant background would preclude services rendered to adulterers, those practicing sexual relations outside of marriage, single parents, divorcees, felons, non-teetotallers, doctors who have performed abortions or prescribed birth control, drug users, etc. Some religious denominations would even prohibit services to be rendered to women who wear pants or have short hair, or men with long hair, or people who swear or smoke. And let’s break it down to the basics…the Ten Commandments are pretty universally agreed upon, so what about people who’ve stolen? People who’ve coveted? Lied? What about war veterans or police officers who’ve taken lives in the line of duty? Consider gluttony, greed and laziness. According to 2011 statistics, 64.5% of Kansas residents are obese. Are proprietors planning on discriminating against 64.5% of their current patrons? Doubtful.
Religious freedom should be exactly that. Freedom. But let’s face it. There has never been such a thing. Protestant pilgrims burned those practicing witchcraft at the stake, slaughtered Native Americans for refusal to convert to Christianity. But is it so out of the realm of possibility to expect the American people to have progressed beyond discrimination, for anything? We’ve been the last horse to cross every civil rights finish line, and we should be ashamed, not proposing bills that invite further international derision resultant of our idiocy. One could further argue that by passing this bill, the Senate is supporting specific religious beliefs and practices, which directly violates the idea behind separation of church and state, does it not?
The relationships people have with one another should be the business of those two individuals. In the same way we praise a faithful marriage or a good relationship, we should support others who have made an alternative decision, instead of further barracading the already rocky road which relationships cause us to travel. Religion has been through the ages a monsterous thing, that makes aggregious and unlawful the natural desires we have as human beings. I always laugh a little when I see the phrase “When did you choose to be straight?” Most of us didn’t. I certainly never did. It just was, like always having liked pizza or hating the color brown. And if someone were to assert that I have to start liking women because their God said so, I’d wonder why he created me with the desire for men in the first place. Especially if this person also claimed said God made no mistakes…
This bill is…to say the least, assinine. What happens when an emergency services company gets to discriminate against people? Hospitals? Private practices? Law firms? Sercurity agencies? Schools? This bill protects intolerance. It promotes an idea that goes against the very thing for which this country claims it stands. Religion, by it’s very definition, is a personal belief. As a personal decision, it cannot be grounds for refusing to treat with equal respect, a person who does not share said beliefs. Currently, the bill has been passed 91-33 at the House, and is currently awaiting further legislation.