Miss. law discriminates in name of religion

Alan Rawles

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The protection of religious freedoms has been in the news lately. Or more realistically, the protection to legally discriminate.

Mississippi just passed a law that allows business owners and individuals to refuse service based on religious beliefs.

While I know the intent is to protect religious freedom, the unfortunate reality is that these laws open the door to discrimination.

Mississippi’s religious freedom law supposedly applies to all religions. According to the law, any business owner can refuse to serve a customer based on an observation. If the owner’s faith “differs” from someone’s lifestyle, the owner can legally refuse to serve that person.

This is the definition of discrimination. The basis of a religion should not be founded on that.

Christianity, for example, is a faith-based religion centered on love. It’s also the predominate religion in America. Discriminating against another person is the opposite of what Christianity promotes.

Business owners already have the right to refuse service. One example is the clothing rule: “No shirt, no shoes, no service.”

Also if a customer is causing a disturbance, the owner has the right to ask them to leave.

These laws make sense. But business owners do not need a law passed reinforcing a bias toward or against particular faiths and lifestyles.

This leads me to constitutional separation of church and state. A clause in the First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

Introducing this religious freedom law directly involves the state government with the church. These businesses that the various laws apply to are not religious entities but provide public services.

My solution is to do away with these ridiculous discrimination laws.

But I also think religious institutions should be protected from a lawsuit in case they do feel the need to refuse service.

It is not true equality to allow one group their rights but deny another their rights. Even if you don’t agree with their views. Don’t religious institutions have just of an equal right to refuse based on religious values as gay couples have to be legally married?

This national discussion is controversial and difficult but absolutely necessary. But I believe that it is possible to be inclusive of all groups.

However, legislature, advocates and individuals must consider every group, lifestyle and belief – not just their particular preference.

Regarding religious business owners, I believe they should look at the person entering their store as an equal human being.

We should care for other people instead of judging them on their choices.

Sadly, people do discriminate for a variety of reasons and the new Mississippi law is discriminating.

Giving discriminatory people another way to hurt others will continue to divide the American people.