It’s strange how it’s OK to trash an inalienable right in order to legitimize a politicized cause which is contrary to that right. It’s also strange how much support there is for the 67-year old distortion of our nation’s philosophy of “separation of church and state” which disregards its original intent explained by Thomas Jefferson 212 years ago. In both cases, the wisdom of the original exceeds that of the “enlightened.”
Arizona’s S.B. 1062 recognizes that freedom of religion is a legitimate right for everyone, not just for religious institutions. This bill’s also restores some of the true meaning of “separation of church and state” which is being forgotten rapidly.
That people might misuse religious belief as a shield to behave uncharitably is not an invalidation of the inalienable right. Misdeeds can also be addressed with legislation, but the inalienable right cannot be suspended until all misuses are dealt with. It would be like shutting down newspapers, radio, television and the internet until all means of criminal use were identified and controlled.
Original “Separation of Church and State” vs. Supreme Court’s Misdirection
The Danbury Baptist Association wrote President Jefferson early in his first term expressing their concern that their minority status within the state would lead to laws being written which would be unfair to them. On January 1, 1802, he attempted to calm their fears when he wrote, “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
The logic of his response was clearly understood until it was side-swiped by our Supreme Court in 1947 in Everson v. Board of Education with: “The First Amendment has created a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable.”
Since then, laws and policies have been affected. We have gone from our government merely not establishing an official religion or showing favoritism to one or more, to a climate where the state is viewed as superior to the church whenever an apparent conflict arises.
What S.B. 1062 Protects
The bill is not a new legislative creation for allowing unfair treatment of people under the guise of religious belief. It would amend existing sections of Arizona’s revised statutes regarding the “free exercise of religion.”1
It clarifies the state’s definition of “religious exercise” as follows (additions in capitals, deletions with lines through):
“’Exercise of religion’ means the PRACTICE OR OBSERVANCE OF
9 RELIGION, INCLUDING THE ability to act or refusal to act in a manner
10 substantially motivated by a religious belief, whether or not the exercise is
11 compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.”1
It removes an unnecessary requirement that a government must be a party such a proceeding.
”D. A person whose religious exercise is burdened in violation of this
18 section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial
19 proceeding, and obtain appropriate relief against a government REGARDLESS OF
20 WHETHER THE GOVERNMENT IS A PARTY TO THE PROCEEDING. THE PERSON ASSERTING
21 SUCH A CLAIM OR DEFENSE MAY OBTAIN APPROPRIATE RELIEF…”1
S.B. 1062 also corrects the originally restrictive language as to whose religious beliefs are to be protected.
“5. ‘Person’ includes a religious assembly or institution ANY
20 INDIVIDUAL, ASSOCIATION, PARTNERSHIP, CORPORATION, CHURCH, RELIGIOUS ASSEMBLY
21 OR INSTITUTION, ESTATE, TRUST, FOUNDATION OR OTHER LEGAL ENTITY.”1
S.B. 1062 Does Not Invite Mistreatment
An article in yesterday’s Arizona Republic stated that “Contrary to the voices that oppose protecting religious freedom for all Arizonans, Senate Bill 1062 and House Bill 2153, which were approved last week, will not allow people to do ‘whatever they want’ in the name of religion” because the states may balance their interests against sincerely held religious beliefs. For example, the state can still outlaw murder even if someone claimed that his religious beliefs allowed for it.2
1062’s Critical Definition and Beliefs Cannot be Separated from Actions
Our nation’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” was signed into law by President Clinton and became effective on November 16, 1993.3 It applies only to the federal government. States may enact their own version.
However, “Arizona’s RFRA, as it currently stands, does not contain the necessary specificity regarding who can use RFRA for protection if the government discriminates against them because of their religious faith.”3
The authors go on to caution about the hazards of legal ambiguity by citing the well-known case involving a New Mexico photographer who refused to photograph two homosexual women’s “commitment ceremony,” not because of inherent bigotry toward the women, but because it would be her endorsement of something contrary to her beliefs about marriage. The two women found another photographer to accommodate them, but they sued the first photographer anyway and won.
As the authors noted, the crucial point was that:
“the ambiguity in New Mexico’s RFRA, like Arizona’s current one, allowed the New Mexico Supreme Court to hand down a strained interpretation that actually distinguished between Elaine as a photographer and Elaine as a small-business owner.”2
A person’s inherent beliefs and actions are inseparable, unless one wishes to be hypocritical a la Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Kathleen Sebelius, et al.
Outcry Against S.B. 1062 Tries to Divert Attention from the Real Issues
AZCentral.com had a clip from Channel 12 News airing views on the bill, including these:
Glenn Hamer, President and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce expressed the concern that S.B. 1062 was “bad for business” and is “not good for the state’s image.” The effects on business can go both ways as Arizona State Senator Al Melvin of Tucson reminded. If this bill were to be vetoed, “what if people of faith stop moving to Arizona?”2
Unfortunately, Mr. Hamer could be correct if the 1960s philosophy that moral standards are subjective and unimportant prevails. As far as the “state’s image” is concerned, he’s not taking into account the manywho respect the strength of courage to do what is right.
The clip had a quote from George Takei, actor and “gay” rights activist. He said that he, his “husband,” and others would boycott Arizona if this bill is signed into law. He voiced his outrage: “The law is breathtaking in its scope. It gives bigotry against us gays and lesbians a powerful and unprecedented weapon,” said Takei. “But your mean-spirited representatives and senators know this.” However, Arizona state representative John Kavanagh (R-8th District) exposes such exaggerations with: “If that same gay couple came in for a passport photo, there is not a substantial burden upon your religion and you could not use this law to do that.”2
There was a sign chiding supporters of S.B. 1062 to “love thy neighbor”2 – a classic “motherhood” statement which no one would dare question on the surface. However, if they were well-formed, they would know that “hating the sin, but loving the sinner” also means not enabling him in this life.
Reasons for Gov. Brewer to Sign Arizona S.B. 1062 into Law
1) This bill clearly states what many laws, including the HHS mandate (Obamacare), fail to recognize: that the INDIVIDUAL is endowed with the (inalienable) right of freedom of religion and that includes being able live one’s life outside of the church building in accordance with those beliefs.
2) The “separation of church and state” was never intended to be what it is viewed today. This Arizona law only reaffirms what our founding fathers understood that freedom of religion is not something that can be granted by or taken away by the government.
As Daniel L. Dreisbach reminds us: “the expansive concept of ‘separation’ was distinct from the institutional concept of ‘non-establishment.’” In addition, he wrote, “the very nature of a wall further reconceptualizes First Amendment principles. A wall is a bilateral barrier that inhibits the activities of both the civil state and religion, unlike the First Amendment, which imposes restrictions on civil government only. The First Amendment, with all its guarantees, was entirely a check or restraint on civil government, specifically Congress. The free press guarantee, for example, was not written to protect the civil state from the press; rather, it was designed to protect a free and independent press from control by the federal government.”4
3) Freedom of religion cannot be curtailed just because some may abuse it. And just because the President decided to leave the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unprotected, the states retain the right to preserve marriage and other concepts not recognized by the federal government.
4) In earlier times of our nation, defending the practice of religion would not have been necessary because citizens understood their place with regard to Natural Law and to a Higher Authority. After five decades of relativistic humanism, what should be obvious must be reaffirmed.
John Kavanagh put it concisely, “If you were trying to sue or prosecute a Roman Catholic priest who wouldn’t officiate a gay marriage, this law would protect (him).”2
5) Ultimately, “This bill is about protecting people who want to freely live out their faith in business and the government can’t coerce them to violate their conscience as a condition of being in business.”
(Douglas Napier, senior legal counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom)2
If these reasons are considered to be archaic, then religious persecution is the next logical step.
1 – from www.azleg.gov
2 – “SB 1062 opponents are putting Arizona at risk,” by Joseph La Rue and Kerri Kupec, Arizona Republic, 2/24/2014
3 – Wikipedia
4 – “The Mythical “Wall of Separation”: How a Misused Metaphor Changed Church–State Law, Policy and Discourse,” Daniel L. Dreisbach, D.Phil. (Oxford University) and J.D. (University of Virginia), is a Professor of Justice, Law, and Society at American University in Washington, D.C, The Heritage