So, the Arizona Legislature passed something called SB 1062. Lots of people are in an uproar about it, so I thought I’d check and see what all the hub bub is about.
From what I can gather, this bill redefines and expands the state of Arizona’s definition of “exercise of religion” and “state action” to protect businesses, corporations and people from lawsuits after denying services based on a sincere religious belief.
Basically, as long as a person’s behavior is motivated by a religious belief, and that religious belief is “sincerely held”–that person or business is protected under the law.
A lot of people think this law is intended to provide Arizonians an extra opportunity to be mean to gay people. I can see that this law would certainly do that.
For example, if my religious beliefs tell me that HIV is God’s punishment for being gay, I would be free to deny medical treatment, or anything else to a person who is HIV positive. Of course, if my religious beliefs tell me that your religion is a crock or is just plain evil, I am also free to deny you goods or services because, hey, sincerely held beliefs!
Can you imagine? Like, for example, a country club populated by WASPS could deny membership to people of the Jewish faith because they sincerely believe those people killed Christ.
If I am an atheist, can I discriminate against Christians? Why not? As long as your atheism is a “sincerely held” belief.
Don’t get me started on some people’s sincerely held beliefs about Muslims. Or Buddhists, or Jehovah’s Witnesses, or Catholics, or Mormons…
Pregnant woman without a wedding ring (or worse–pregnant lesbian with a wedding ring!)–I sincerely believe you are a harlot and no, I will not serve you in my holy restaurant.
You two men–I will not rent you a room in my holy hotel because I suspect you are a same sex couple. You’re not? Then how come you have the same last name? Brothers? Hmmmm, you look like homosexuals to me. So, shoo! I can’t be too careful, what with my sincerely held beliefs and all…
The folks behind this bill say it will not lead to discrimination but will, instead, “protect the religious freedom of every Arizonian.”
Because apparently the state of Arizona is overrun with sinful people who are forcing “people of faith” to do all sorts of horrible things like bake cakes for same sex weddings and all manner of evil. This is apparently the biggest problem facing the people of Arizona today. Once this bill becomes law, Arizona will be OK, I guess.
What’s wrong with that?
Something these legislative people should know, that I know (and I am not even a lawyer or even a paralegal) is that the interpretation of the law will not be determined so much by the people of Arizona as it will be by case law. When an angry lesbian mothers whose child was denied medical treatment or an upset Mormon family who were refused hotel accommodations start dragging all these sincere people into court. Basically, you won’t know how terrible this bill really is until you’ve unleashed it upon the arid land that is Arizona.
I think the people who want to see this bill pass would do well to provide examples from the Bible that illustrate why this law is so important.
How about that time Jesus fed the multitude with just a few loaves of bread and some fish? Wait–that’s a bad example. I don’t think Jesus even asked if there were any gay people in the crowd who might inadvertently be fed by him, despite his sincerely held beliefs.
And not only did Jesus provide free health care on more than one occasion, he didn’t even bother to screen out the sinners from the people who actually deserved to be healed because they shared his sincerely held beliefs.
Maybe that is because Jesus wanted to reach people who didn’t share his sincerely held beliefs because, you know, why preach to the choir?
It has been a while since I have been to Sunday school, but I am pretty sure you’d be hard pressed to find one example in the Bible in which Jesus touch someone’s heart by being rude.
I believe that the people behind this bill do the true believers a disservice. This bill is going to give all sorts of pious jerks the opportunity to act snotty to other people in the name of Jesus–and feel good about doing so. All the while convincing significant numbers of people that these folks who call themselves Christians are, well, pious snotty jerks.
I am not sure that is the most effective way to spread the gospel, but that’s just me.
When you compare the lessons that Jesus taught with the messages the supporters of this bill are putting forth, you kind of get the feeling that SB 1062 is rather un-Christian.
At least that’s the way I see it. Heathen, though I may be.
Still, there is something I love about this bill.
I love that Arizona often attempts to out-crazy Florida and is usually successful.
Thanks, AZ for making FL look somewhat lucid, at least on occasion.