Archive for the ‘freedom of conscience rights’ Category

Should Compromising Religious Beliefs Be the Price of Citizenship?

December 1, 2016

Yesterday, I posted the content of an email entitled  “Conscience Rights for All” that I had received from Alliance Defending Freedom. Today, I was not able to find a link to the article. However, there is a link at the ADF site which shares an excellent essay on this topic from The Public Discourse website. The post goes into more detail regarding this very important issue and the current battle going on within the courts of our nation.

The Public Discourse: SOGI Laws: A Subversive Response to a Nonexistent Problem.

Excerpt:

The “price of citizenship” in a free society can never include our freedom of conscience. If we surrender that, then we have surrendered free society itself.

Throughout history, every person under every regime has had—in the most elemental sense—the freedom to form a unique set of beliefs and values. But, uniquely, citizens of the United States have long been guaranteed the fulfillment of that freedom. That is, we possess the freedom to live peacefully according to our beliefs and to follow the dictates of our conscience.

This freedom—codified by the First Amendment—is a pre-political right that rests in our dignity as human beings. But the cultural movement for “tolerance” and “inclusion” has reduced freedom of conscience to a lesser-than right, a token that exists subject to the decisions of judges and lawmakers.

In recent years, laws that provide special privileges to individuals based on their self-proclaimed gender identity or sexual preferences have emerged across the country. Commonly known as SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) laws, these legislative undertakings are typically fueled by activist groups and represent a subversive response to a nonexistent problem. Available data confirm there exists no significant social pattern or practice of unjust discrimination against these groups. This is not only because the vast majority of Americans already respect each other and are fair-minded, but also because anyone engaged in baseless discrimination faces the prospect of social and financial consequences brought on by public pressure and boycotts.

SOGI laws, however, use the full force of the law to punish individuals who seek to live peacefully and to work in a way that is consistent with their consciences. Elaine Huguenin, Barronelle Stutzman, Jack Phillips, and Blaine Adamson are just a few of the small business owners who gladly serve all people without exception, but who also face legal punishment because they declined to participate in certain events or to create custom art that would have violated their consciences. In Elaine’s case, she politely declined a request to use her expressive photography skills to tell the story of a same-sex commitment ceremony. Her attempt to remain peacefully true to her faith’s teachings about marriage led to a seven-year court battle that culminated in a ruling by the New Mexico Supreme Court against her and her husband, Jon. One justice stated that the Huguenins “now are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives,” and added that this compulsion “is the price of citizenship.”

Barronelle Stutzman is a 72-year-old grandmother who faces the loss of her business, savings, and home for referring elsewhere a request by a long-time friend and customer that she participate in the celebration of his same-sex wedding by designing custom floral arrangements for it.

In Iowa and Massachusetts, not only religious citizens but even houses of worship are under attack. Churches currently face government-imposed mandates requiring them to open their restrooms to individuals based on their subjectively determined sex rather than biological reality.

Conditional Surrender Fails to Advance Religious Liberty.

[In] the current cultural standoff, proponents of religious freedom and freedom of conscience simultaneously confront opportunities for victory and defeat. We can either choose to enter the arena and strive valiantly for victory, or we can join “those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat,” choosing to negotiate the terms of our own surrender. Now is not the time to partner with proponents of SOGIs in hopes of catching a few crumbs of liberty that fall from the table. Freedom of conscience is not a token to be surrendered as the price of citizenship in a free society; it is the mark of citizenship and the fruit of a free society.

James Gottry is a lawyer and writer with Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal group founded to preserve and defend religious liberty.

Read it all at:

The Public Discourse: SOGI Laws: A Subversive Response to a Nonexistent Problem.

Related article:

The Federalist: BuzzFeed Wants To Destroy Chip And Joanna Gaines For Being Christian And Wildly Popular.

Hat tips to all links.


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