Religious Freedom Restoration Acts

A lot of news coverage recently has focused on discriminatory laws in Indiana and Arkansas restricting services to legally married same-sex couples and pending legislation in other states. Most reports have ignored the fact that LGBT people can be denied employment and housing in the majority of states. Gays and lesbians can be fired simply because of their sexual orientation without any protection from discrimination. Federal legislation, dubbed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), has been pending since 1993 that would add LGBT as a protected class similar to the other classes of people cited prior laws.

In common practice, fewer gays and lesbians are being fired in spite of the fact that is legal to do so because businesses and other organizations have found that to be damaging to their images if they discriminate. It’s simply bad business practice if you want to recruit and keep good employees, including many straight allies. But that doesn’t excuse the practice that still exists among some companies, and particularly churches, who still discriminate based solely on sexual orientation. Some church-related colleges recently have been in the news because of their discriminatory practices. They claim their religion protects them from claims of discrimination because of their belief that homosexuality is a mortal sin and therefore all homosexuals are unworthy of employment. Of course, some people go even further and say that all LGBT people are worthy of death, imprisonment, or at least physical and mental abuse.

In those cases where such acts of violence occur, some states are including LGBT people along with race as a categoryin their hate crimes laws. Basically those laws impose additional punishment if the motive to a crime can be proven to be the result of a person’s hate of another individual and not just a crime of passion. Such situations are very hard to prove in court and probably offer little protection or deterrence. So-called “bullying” laws against abuse of LGBT youth have been much more effective in that they impose responsibilities on teachers and administrators to act when bullying occurs rather than to ignore it.

Some would say that all this proves the point that you can’t legislate morality, and where discrimination and abuse exist in the name of religion you simply have to wait until time brings about the change in the public’s beliefs and perceptions about homosexuality. Public opinion is changing along with the laws that have decriminalized homosexuality and legalized same-sex marriage, but the radical right is still a holdout in the cultural changes of recent decades. Their hatred of Obama because of his race is re-enforced by his support of LGBT issues. The politics of fear mongering has been successful through the ages, and as long as you continue to tell the big lie it works. It only unravels when the lies are revealed. The radical right group LGBT people with Muslims and Jews and other people they hate and justify their hatred in the name of religion. Their religion, however, is the antithesis of Christianity and everything that Jesus preached. In reality what they want is a theocracy similar to Iran when the majority can impose their religious beliefs and practices on everyone so that there is no freedom of religion and the state and the church are one. Our founding fathers learned from the abuses in Europe of those practices and set America on a course to separate the two. Thus we have the hypocrisy of Religious Freedom Restoration Acts.

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