The Majority Doesn’t Need Their Religious Freedom Restored

screencap from Holy Grail

Indiana and Arkansas have changed their state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA) to make it more explicit that it not be used by businesses to discriminate against LGBTs or others of different beliefs. RFRAs were originally created to protect minority religious beliefs from government overreach, like peyote use by Native Americans, and not to allow the majority religions to selectively honor the civil rights of others.

Josh Marshall over at had a great essay on the how RFRAs were perverted by the religious majority:

It is fair to say that there is no perfectly bright line separating protecting your own ability to act in certain ways and your freedom to treat other people in certain ways. But broadly speaking, there’s a pretty clear distinction. Whatever the specifics, the move over the last two years has been for the social conservative right to at least tacitly concede defeats on gay rights but argue for a penumbra of ‘religious liberty’ which exempts them from the rights-protections now afforded to gay people. Notably, this is the majority culture (or the unreconstructed part of it) pressing its rights against minority cultures.

Virtually no one – perhaps truly no one – says that ministers or rabbis should have to marry gay couples. But most of the religious liberty claims we’ve now seen in the last couple years focus on assertions of ‘religious liberty’ in cases that have nothing to do with the exercise of people’s religion. Indeed, we’ve seen huge corporations assert their ‘religious liberty’. Your religion doesn’t stipulate or guide how you make cakes or pizzas. More importantly, it is a principle well embedded in American law that all sorts of civil rights laws are not enforced against individuals but only against public businesses. Indeed, housing discrimination laws have exceptions if, for instance, you’re renting a room in your own house.

Freedom For the Oppressed Majority

RFRAs are bad laws enacted by desperate people to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.


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