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Religious Bigotry Redux

So Jeb (the smarter?) Bush came out in defense of businesses that refuse service to gay individuals if they are acting on the basis of their religious beliefs. He said that, in his mind, this was not a complicated issue, merely one that built on principles of religious freedom. He, like most of the defenders of discrimination, made the same reference to instances where a florist or a caterer refuses to provide services at a wedding of a gay couple.

I assume that we’re talking here, not about explicit examples like florists and weddings, but about basic principles of law and the rights of individuals to practice their religion. Laws are designed to apply broadly to all relevant circumstances not to tightly circumscribed episodes. We should be debating, not specifics like florists and weddings, but deep principles concerning religious freedom and whether they apply broadly to any and all circumstances where services may be withheld because of genuinely held religious belief.

The issue here isn’t simply the right of a fundamentalist Christian to refuse to be a party to a homosexual union, it’s whether any deeply held religious beliefs, ones grounded in relevant scripture, can be a legal basis for denying services to any individual whose actions and behaviors violate those beliefs.

The issue became a hot-button topic because of the current concerns about gay marriage. But it isn’t about whether homosexuality violates someone’s religious beliefs. It’s about religious freedom, which is protected by the constitution, and civil rights which are protected by the constitution.

Jeb’s position is, whether he realizes it or not (I’ve got a guess about this), is that religious freedom trumps civil rights. Those who disagree argue that civil rights preempt specific religious convictions.

So I have a question: how would Jeb feel if a devout Muslim shopkeeper refused to serve his wife if she entered his store alone, unaccompanied by her husband/protector?

Just askin’ … you know, kinda curious. After all, it’s not a complicated issue.

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