Freedom of Bias
Thursday afternoon was the moment that our founding fathers once again rolled in their graves due to the feelings of utter disgust towards the signing of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
This Religious Freedom Restoration Act, mimicking another version passed in 1993 by Bill Clinton, is a law meant to protect religious rights. However, the twist that Republican Governor Mike Pence put upon this piece of legislation is that it legalizes discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals by claiming that business owners can cite that it is against their religious beliefs to serve them. The difference between Clinton’s law and Pence’s is that Clinton’s was written to protect. Clinton created the first Religious Freedom Restoration Act to protect Muslim people from discrimination in the work environment because of their religious commitment to daily prayers multiple times a day. However, Pence’s legislation is hurting more than protecting. By discriminating against the LGBQT community, this just proves that we, as a country, are backpedaling, further back than we ever should. Instead of learning from our mistakes, we may be in line to repeat them.
This law takes us back to the days of segregation, when there were separate bathrooms, buses, and schools. Though this discrimination may not be racist, it is existent. In a recent interview, Pence stated that this law was “intended as a message of inclusion and was interpreted as a message of exclusion.” Despite his claims, how could one not interpret it as a message of exclusion when this act puts a veil over those discriminating against individuals and are hiding behind the phrase ‘religious liberty?’ Since when did religious rights overrule individual rights? We aren’t governed by a theocracy, so why must people be bound by one? To make people feel comfortable? If thats the case, it’s clearly not working. Not only is this law hurting the people of the LGBQT community, it is questioning the common sense of America. If state legislators wish to “coexist in harmony” (words of Pence), why are some laws created to protect one type of people and hurting the rest? Though it may not apply to me personally, it will apply to my family, friends, and generation as a whole. The only people whom this act is helping are those who feel the need to impose their religious beliefs upon others. Texas Senator Ted Cruz truly believes that this law “is giving voice to millions of courageous conservatives”; however, that may not be the case.
This atrocious act did not merely begin its journey in Indiana. In fact, Indiana was the thirteenth state to join this heinous movement. Last December, I read .an article on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was passed through the Michigan House of Representatives. That law prohibited the government from intervening if health care workers refused service for the reason of protecting personal religious beliefs. That article seemed so outrageously ridiculous that I thought it was a hoax. Now that I realize the reality of the situation, I am horrified. For there to be a law allowing people in the healthcare industry to justify not helping another human being on the grounds of religion is unimaginable. By working in an industry dedicated to improving the wellbeing of others and striving to find the cure for cancer, I would think that there is an obligation to save lives. When the law interferes with the nature of science and the integrity of helping others, I can’t help but to see the dark side of both political strategy and dedication to religion.
Following in the footsteps of Indiana, Arkansas is now on the path to passing a Religious Freedom Restoration Act. How much more can this country endure before realizing its crime? This violation of basic human rights is ultimately slapping the fourteenth amendment in the face and stomping on the due process clause itself. Why make these amendments if politics have the power to overrule those rights. What’s next? Denying service to single parents or people who are dedicated to another religion? We are all taught at a young age that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, yet these new laws are what push the advancement of society towards a bottomless pit of doom where the issues of a woman’s right to her own body and equal pay unfortunately still reside.