Rights in Conflict

The local news this morning is raising a fuss about a new bill in Arizona awaiting the Governor’s decision whether to sign it or veto it. Arizona’s SB1062 as endorsed by the Center for Arizona Policy is an attempt to restore religious freedom in certain cases. You can learn more about the law, and its intents by following the link. But perhaps more importantly you can see a history of how two different rights have come to be in conflict with each other since 1990.

Now I started off by saying they were raising a fuss. I use this term because at no point did they try to explain what the bill will do, or what the specific wording of the bill was. Other stations might have done so, but I would feel better about the press if they had led with this information. Instead they almost exclusively spoke of the possible economic impact. Bad policy is made when all we care about is whether or not it makes money. We should always care more about the right and wrong of issues than its economic impact.

SB1062 is an example of how different rights have come into conflict with each other in America. The trend is religious freedom is losing importance in America. When rights come in conflict with each other it is now the likely loser. Our heritage of religious freedom and diversity is disappearing fast because we are demanding that the individual conscience conform to cultural norms.

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12 thoughts on “Rights in Conflict

  1. The trouble is that no-where in the Bible does it say that you should not associate with gay people. Jesus associated with tax collectors, forsooth.

    Why would anyone not want to provide their service to a gay person? How could a refusal to associate with a particular class of sinner be called a “religious exercise”?

    A Bill to make lots of money for lawyers.

    • You are right in spirit. But not exactly in fact. The Bible does have passages indicating we should separate from sinners. I don’t think the intents of God’s writing on the subject wants us to disassociate with homosexuals but it absolutely wants us to see the behavior as sin, similar to adultery and fornication.

      The bill doesn’t seem to be about that though. Its not about association, or about general provision of services. Instead it is about those areas where participation violates a person’s belief system.

      This is one of the reasons I would like someone to publish the actual text of the bill, or at least to discuss it by outcomes instead of simply polarizing to viewpoints and standing on them.

      Those in favor of the bill state there are protections in the law making sure it is not used flippantly, such as refusing service to homosexuals in a restaurant, while allowing a persons religious views to be protected, such as not forcing them to participate in an abortion when they believe it is immoral. I would love someone to show us how that is worded. Others say it is an open attack on homosexuals, if so then they too should show us how that is worded in the bill.

      About your last statement. I agree it will make a lot of money for someone, but I appreciate at least the attempt to protect people of faith. Lawsuits telling Americans they must conform to the public opinions on homosexuality and other topics are already surprisingly common. Are we really free if we will use government to tell our neighbors what to believe and how to practice?

      • I got here from Wikipedia:
        http://www.azleg.gov/legtext/51leg/2r/bills/sb1062p.pdf

        From page 3: D. A person whose religious exercise is burdened in violation of this
        17
        section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial
        18
        proceeding
        ,
        and obtain appropriate relief against a government
        REGARDLESS OF
        19
        WHETHER THE GOVERNMENT IS A PARTY TO THE PROCEEDING. THE PERSON ASSERTING
        20
        SUCH A CLAIM OR DEFENSE MAY OBTAIN APPROPRIATE RELIEF.
        A party who prevails
        21
        in any action to enforce this article against a government shall recover
        22
        attorney fees and costs

        The problem is that it is unclear who says what is “religious exercise”. Anyone refusing to sell to a gay man might claim religious principle.

        • Exercise of religion is defined in 41-1493 sec. 2 beginning in line 8 right at the beginning of the document.

          “Exercise of religion” means the PRACTICE OR OBSERVANCE OF 8 RELIGION, INCLUDING THE ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.

          In terms of wording which will prevent abuse I think it is a good effort, only time will tell if it will be successful

          The Wikipedia article has grown since I looked at it. And not in an unbiased way. It is easy to see this is an attempt to protect the free exercise of religion and not an attempt to harm homosexuals.

          • There we disagree. Someone could assert that his refusal to serve a gay person was “substantially motivated” by his belief that being gay is sinful. So, if ever a gay person is harmed, the law is on the side of the harmer. Until it is overturned in court.

            People do seem to care, passionately, going into court rather than baking a cake- but why? What possible harm does baking a wedding cake do a wedding cake baker?

          • While the gay couple has lots of other bakeries to choose from, the baker has one life to live devoted to God. If he allows that business to go to one of the other bakeries because he wants to honor God, he is not so much harming the couple who have lots of other options, as trying to live according to his beliefs. He chooses only to give up profit. Not much different than refusing to bake pound cake because it’s not real cake.

            But then when the couple sues him and forces him to either violate his conscience or lose his business he is the one harmed.

            It still comes down to rights in conflict, which is what I originally talked about. Our society has decided the gay couple has a right to force people to support their marriages. We are forcing religious liberty to take a back seat to the promotion of gay marriage.

            Your question at the end is a part of the problem. Society doesn’t understand why Christians believe what they do, or draw the lines that Christians draw, so society will force Christians to redraw their lines or behave differently. This is not freedom.

        • I looked at the post. If any of the posts I see against the bill, used the wording of the bill, I might believe they read it. But instead they all use other wording which is not in the bill and is not in agreement with what it says. Based on what I am reading I think half the people protesting, believe it names homosexuality in some manner. It does not. In fact the law, as written, would protect homosexuals in the same way it would protect Christians, Muslims and Jews. (And could allow someone to refuse to do something asked of them by any of those groups.)

          My statement has been that I appreciate the attempt to protect people of faith. My complaint is that religious freedom is forced to take a back seat.

          For all of recorded history people of faith have held marriage as a sacred institution. Making us participate in a marriage that opposes the our viewpoint is an infringement on our religious freedom. What I said previously stands. The protestors do not understand why we believe marriage is sacred, why we believe homosexuality is a sin, and therefore they believe they have a right to make us change our behavior and belief. Freedom of religion is forced to play second fiddle to a new set of priorities.

          One politician last night made this point. If a Homosexual Printer has an extremist church go to him, asking him to print signs saying ‘God hates homosexuals’, does he have the right to refuse. He did 20 years ago. But then courts decided federal laws did not apply, it was an issue for the states. Many states put laws in place intended to restore that right. But the case in New Mexico undid this. So this is an attempt to amend the law to restore the right of refusal again. IF the law does not pass, they will not have the right to refuse. The bakery and photographer and other cases in the news were cases where activist homosexuals targeted Christians. I believe a law that would protect them would be good, if such a law could be written. It would in fact protect everyone’s ability to think for themselves.

          I have never stated I believed exclusion of homosexuals in normal business dealings is desired. Your answers seem to imply I have. I have expressed doubt whether this law will draw a line between what is ‘substantially motivated by religious belief’ and what is everyday activity. The fact that you keep asking the same question leads me to wonder if you are even reading my responses. Discussion is fine, but its not discussion if you don’t hear the other person.

          By the way, the religious freedom quiz on your friend’s blog, is manipulative. It might be subtle but it is supposed to shape individual opinion to the common opinion. Another example of if you don’t think like us, something is wrong with you. Freedom will always include diversity of thought or else it’s an illusion.

  2. I wondered whether to come back on this, as we are talking past each other, but I am reading. And I do understand why some Christians oppose gay relationships specifically, and I understand that that may come from a high view of sex as a gift of God- the two become one flesh- not to be trifled with.

    And- the wedding photographer, far less the cake baker, does not participate in a wedding. They provide a service. They will see people enjoying themselves and celebrating the union of the couple, and they will do their own job, more or less professionally. Surely they must disapprove of some weddings. Perhaps it is overly ostentatious, or people move beyond feasting and celebration to gluttony. Would a Southern Baptist photographer refuse to photograph a wedding with a female pastor? I understand that for Southern Baptists women cannot be pastors, so it cannot be a proper wedding.

    No, the Bill does not name homosexuality, but is in response to Equalities legislation protecting LGBT. What other religious beliefs might come in conflict with the law, do you think? And it would permit a business owner to avoid associating with gay people in any way.

  3. You may be unsurprised that I did not like Matt Walsh’s article, and the bit I choose to attack is, If I had the time, I’d specifically address the continued comparisons drawn between the historical plight of blacks in America and the imagined plight of gays in present day. I’d point out how this is much like comparing a stubbed toe to the Holocaust.

    It is more than a stubbed toe. Here is the Wikipedia article. I did not report to the police when a drunk tried to push me into the road, in front of a car, because of my appearance.

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