Thursday, January 14, 2021

The Idiot Son of an Idiot Son Ponders the Equality Act

Walker Wildmon
via YouTube/CBN
Perhaps if religious conservatives ceased falsely equating service with approval then not discriminating would not be a problem and they could go about running their businesses.
Be advised: Equality Act would stomp religious conservatives. That's according to American Family Association, an anti-LGBTQ hate group.

Here we go again. We are going to hear a great deal of negative nonsense over the Equality Act which seems likely to be signed into law in the near future now that Democrats control both houses of Congress and the presidency. Much of what we have already seen is focused on transgender people who are the religious extremists' target of opportunity.

The Equality Act would add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And don't you know? The religious fanatics absolutely cannot be deprived of their “right” to discriminate.
Ever the victim
“What the Left has been trying to do, and they're going to continue to try to do with the Equality Act and other legislation,” says Walker Wildmon, a spokesman for American Family Association, "is ... punish people who have sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Poor Walker is not too swift. He is claiming that the legislative intent is to harm religious conservatives. The legislative intent is to eliminate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. We will never get a straight answer as to how religious conservatives are harmed. But Walker takes a stab at it.
One News Now has documented state-level punishment of Christians for years now, such as Colorado baker Jack Phillips and Kentucky print shop owner Blaine Adamson; but the Equality Act promises to go beyond local and state legal fights since passage of the Equality Act would update the 1964 Civil Rights Act. That mean mean a Christian baker such as Phillips, after refusing a cake order for a homosexual wedding, could face off against the U.S. Dept. of Justice and its Civil Rights Division.
Those are reasons for the Equality Act, not arguments in opposition. Were it not for people like Phillips it would not be necessary. I have never seen a rational explanation as to how Jack Phillips' religious beliefs are controverted by baking a cake for a same-sex couple.

Religious beliefs would prevent Phillips from having gay sex or entering into a same-sex marriage but providing service in conformity with the law should not be an issue. There is that “render unto Caesar …” stuff directly from Jesus.

Not to mention that Phillips is running a for-profit business. I would bake a cake for Westboro Baptist Church. It's just business which is supposed to generate a profit.
In a 2019 op-ed, … published by USA Today, self-described “gay conservative” Brad Polumbo warns the legislation “purports” to protect LGBT people such as himself by promising legal protections in everything from employment to jury selection.

“Yet the bill defined ‘public accommodations’ so loosely and called for regulations so sweeping,” he writes, “that it would crush religious freedom and radically reshape American society.”
According to Polumbo:
The Equality Act's blatant disregard for the basic right to religious freedom is appalling. A 'fairness for all' compromise is the best way forward.
Mr. Polumbo's views are appalling. Much of his op-ed deals with the supposed unfairness of preventing discrimination in the workplace. That issue was resolved with the Supreme Court's decision in Bostock v. Clayton County.

For the most part what is left is discrimination in public accommodations. I think that we all know that public accommodations are facilities, both public and private, used by the public. Polumbo never does explain why a religious conservative is obliged to discriminate. He is, however, hyperbolic:
… the Equality Act goes much further and could potentially force religious medical professionals and faith-based institutions to provide sex-change surgeries and gender transition hormones against their will.
No. It does not. That's like saying that a kosher restaurant would have to offer ham sandwiches to avoid religious discrimination. Transgender health care will not be on the religious conservative's “menu.” It's not something that is offered to cisgender people. Enough with the attention-seeking Mr. Polumbo.

Getting back to American Family Association:

I am skipping over considerable nonsensical verbiage regarding how and when a church could be deemed a public accommodation. A church becomes a public accommodation only when it offers something to the general public. The typical example is the spaghetti supper.
According to Wildmon, passage of the Equality Act would require "gutting" the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The compromise bill, signed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, was viewed as protection for religious beliefs after a controversial 1990 court decision. It passed with near-unanimous consent in the House and Senate.
The above has become a popular right-wing talking point. Nondiscrimination laws have no effect on religious beliefs. The RFRA would not be touched, let alone “gutted” and its effect is not undermined. Religious beliefs do not require anyone to discriminate.

Let's take an extreme example to make a point. Adherents to Christian Identity are white supremacists. If one of them happens to own a restaurant, serving a Jewish person has no effect on either their beliefs or religious practice. They will continue to believe that I am subhuman and that belief will be reinforced by text and sermon.

According to the RFRA:
Government shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.
Discrimination is not a person's exercise of religion. Furthermore, even were that not the case, a burden is permissible if it is in “furtherance of a compelling government interest.” Nondiscrimination is a compelling government interest.
…the Equality Act means the discrimination claims of a homosexual plaintiff would win in court “by default” over the First Amendment and religious claims of another American.
That is actually true to some extent. A person could be required to demonstrate how not discriminating interferes with their exercise of religion.
Overall, the point that I am trying to make is that the religious right is intentionally confusing prejudicial treatment with the exercise of religion.
No one seems capable of explaining just how not being able to discriminate infringes upon the exercise of religion. A public accommodation might be owned by someone who has a “sincerely held religious belief™” that Black people are inferior. How would serving a Black person interfere with free exercise?

Another example: Tradionally, some conservative Protestants have a serious problem with Seventh Day Adventists which they regard as a cult. Why would it be necessary for a Baptist to discriminate against a Seventh Day Adventist?

At least one answer is found in conservative religious culture. Prime motivators are shame and approval. If someone equates service with approval (Jack Phillips is the perfect example) then they are creating a problem for themselves. We should not be discriminated against because of someone's personality disorder.

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