… and in Indiana, that’s apparently OK, because religious beliefs are protected in law.
Now, I don’t agree with religion, but I understand why there are legal protections for religion. And now, there are places that allow religious beliefs to have supremacy over anti-discrimination laws.
But… and it’s a big but… How is the law going to determine what is a bona fide religious belief and what is just bigoted bullshit? Let’s consider the hubbub around “catering gay marriages”.
On one hand, plenty of people believe that the rights of people not to suffer discrimination would require a Christian caterer to provide service to a gay wedding even if the caterer’s religious beliefs held that such an event was wrong. Other people would say “Sorry, that’s freedom of religion and the caterer should not be forced to act against their beliefs.”
I’m going to grant that, and say “fair enough.”
The problem comes in when you get to “what are their beliefs?” because it matters. If they are acting in a discriminatory manner and it is NOT due to a bona fide religious belief, then they’re bigoted douchebags who should be hit with the full weight of anti-bigotry laws.
And that’s the rub. The Christian proscription on homosexuality comes largely from the Bible in the book of Leviticus (Lev 20:13). I won’t even get into the argument that Jesus was the new covenant and the New Testament superseded the Old, etc. It doesn’t matter… Some Christians follow the Old Testament and that document has proscriptions against homosexuality, so aiding and abetting a gay marriage would contravene those deeply held beliefs.
However, the Old Testament also contains other proscriptions. Would the caterer in question agree, for example, that people who work on Sunday should be executed (Exodus 31:14)? because the Bible is pretty unequivocal on that. What about providing services to people who wear mixed fabrics in contravention of God’s word (Lev 19:19)? Yep, that’s banned too.
So which Christian beliefs are bona fide? How can anyone tell? It seems hypocritical to me for someone to say “I won’t serve a gay wedding,” if they don’t also demand death for blasphemers (Lev 24:16), adulterers (Lev 20:10), people who disrespect their parents (Lev 20:9), etc. with the same vigour. Are they supportive of slavery (Lev 25:44-46) as that is very much a Christian belief in the same vein as the evils of homosexuality?
If the rules about homosexuality stand, when did the other rules get set aside? Is there a definitive list somewhere of “these rules are in effect, and these ones have been superseded by God”? Who decided? What was the process?
I’d argue that to cherry pick homosexuality out of the long list of Levitican proscriptions isn’t about religious beliefs at all… it’s just good, old-fashioned bigotry and should be treated as such. That’s really what the Indiana “religious freedom” law is all about. It’s not about religious freedom, it’s about hiding behind the Bible and using the law as a weapon to prevent people from asking the necessary, hard questions.