We are in the middle of a contentious political competition involving executive orders. President Obama, unable to get his bills through Congress, used executive orders to do so. President Trump reversed many of those orders and it appears that when President-elect Biden is sworn in, he will reverse the reversals. One difficult topic is civil rights vs. religious liberty when it comes to the rights of the LGBTQ community.
Think back to the 1950s when many used biblical references to justify segregation of the races or preventing women from gaining the same standing as men. If today a company refused to hire an African American due to his or her color because of religious liberty, few would agree that the company had that right. If a bank refused to grant a loan to a woman with excellent credit because of the banker’s religion’s refusal to recognize the civil rights of women, again, nobody would argue that the banker was within his rights.
So, why do folks argue that the refusal to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple is reasonable due to the baker’s freedom of religion? Imagine a company whose business was accomplished on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and a Muslim employee refused to work on Friday, the Muslim Sabbath, yet demanded to get paid. What if an Orthodox Jewish employee posed the same argument about not working on Saturday and getting full pay? How about a devout Christian who refused to work on Sunday in accordance with his faith and expected to get paid?
Those who argue for the importance of religious liberty typically cite the First Amendment. Remember that in that amendment, the prohibition of establishing a state religion comes before the right to free practice of one’s religion.
What should one do if one’s faith considers homosexual behavior sinful, or denies the right of a person to change his or her gender identity? There are two reasonable options. First, ensure that there is no conflict, such as a baker not baking any wedding cakes or finding a job that does not have the possibility of conflict with his faith. The second is to join an insular community such as the Chassidic Jews, the Amish or the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, so life can be fulfilled without a religious conflict.
Those who challenge the rights of the LGBTQ community using religious liberty as a rationale are either homophobic or ignorant or both.