Rick Santorum Is Wrong Again. What Religious Freedom Really Means

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screencap of Rick Santorum on Face the Nation
Frothy Rick Santorum is wrong whenever his lips move

Perennial presidential election loser Rick Santorum, of the frothy Santorums, was brought on one of the Sunday political talk shows to pontificate on his warped view of religious freedom. He was wrong of course.

Santorum added that he doesn’t think businesses should be able to discriminate against individuals, but should be able to decline to “participate in certain activities.”

The former senator referenced the Westboro Baptist Church, an extremist anti-gay group known for protesting an array of high-profile funerals, including for members of the military killed overseas.

“If you’re a print shop and you are a gay man, should you be forced to print ‘God Hates Fags’ for the Westboro Baptist Church because they hold those signs up?” Santorum asked on CBS’ “Face The Nation.” “Should the government — and this is really the case here — should the government force you to do that?”

“This is about the government coming in and saying, ‘No, we’re going to make you do this.’ And this is where I think we just need some space to say let’s have some tolerance, be a two-way street,” he continued.

Rick Santorum Quotes ‘God Hates Fags’ Slogan While Discussing Indiana Law

Santorum and other defenders of the Indiana “Religious Freedom Restoration” Act (RFRA) make these dissimilar arguments trying to show a hypocrisy.

A baker refusing to make a cake that says “God Hates Fags” is totally different than refusing to bake a cake for someone who is having a same-sex wedding.

As long as the baker refuses to put offensive sayings on ANY cake then they are not discriminating against a person for who they are – like what happened in a case in Colorado:

In March of 2014, Marjorie Silva, owner of Azucar, refused to make cakes that included two Bible verses: “God hates sin. Psalm 45:7? and “Homosexuality is a detestable sin. Leviticus 18:2.” The cake design was also to include a portrayal of two grooms holding hands in front of a cross with a red “X” over them. The man who made the request, one William Jack, proceeded to file a complaint against her for discriminating against him based on his “creed” as defined by Colorado law.

A decision letter from the Division ruled in Silva’s favor. She did not discriminate against Jack because of his religious identity, but because his request included “derogatory language and imagery.” Her standard against such language is consistent across protected classes. “In the same manner [she] would not accept [an order from] anyone wanting to make a discriminatory cake against Christians, [she] will not make one that discriminates against gays,” the decision reads. “The evidence demonstrates that [Silva] would deny such requests to any customer, regardless of creed.”

This Baker Refused To Bake An Anti-Gay Cake. Here’s Why That’s Not Discrimination.

Another false example, people like Santorum like to use, is the scenario where a black baker refuses to bake a cake for someone in the KKK.

That example is just ridiculousness to the extreme. Someone in the KKK would NEVER patronize a business owned by African-Americans. They would go miles out their way not to do so.

Even if the KKK member went to the black baker, the baker could refuse service, if the KKK person wanted a cake to say racist things, because racism isn’t protected under public accommodation laws. If the bakery refused to serve white people then there might be an argument.

Religious freedom doesn’t need to be restored since it is protected by the first amendment and case law in this country. The freedom religious conservatives want “restored” is the freedom to discriminate.

Throughout these ups and downs, however, one rule remained constant. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg explained last January, religious liberties may be quite broad when a religious objector’s attempt to exempt themselves from obeying a particular law does not “detrimentally affect others who do not share” the objector’s beliefs. Nevertheless, when religion is used as a sword to cut down the rights of others, that was not allowed.

Or, at least, it wasn’t allowed up until June 30, 2014. That’s the day the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, holding that an employer’s objections to several forms of birth control could be wielded to diminish their employees’ access to contraception. The open question after Hobby Lobby is just how far this new regime will go — and, more specifically, whether the new rule permitting religious objectors to disparage the rights of others will allow them to evade certain civil rights laws.

Why The Christian Right May Never Recover From Indiana

Just remember when religious conservatives talk about religious freedom they aren’t talking about freedom for all.

And Rick Santorum is wrong again.


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