I really don’t get what is so hard to understand: the First Amendment gives you the right to practice your own religion, but not to harm or discriminate against others. As I pointed out in this earlier post, using a “religious freedom” argument in this way is both incorrect and ultimately harmful to religion itself.
And yet, Matt Bevin doesn’t get it. He somehow believes that being a Christian gives you the right to pick and choose which legal requests you will accept. Years ago it was inter-racial marriage; now it’s gay marriage. In both cases, though, the real word is simple: discrimination.
So here are some questions for Mr. Bevin, who is Southern Baptist.
- Since many SBC churches preach about the sin of divorce, I assume you’d be okay with a clerk refusing to give a marriage license to someone who was divorced?
- Many churches also preach about the evils of alchohol. Any county clerk who wished could refuse a marriage license to someone working in the bourbon industry, right?
- Of course, since they are not Christian, it would be perfectly fine for a clerk to refuse a license to Muslims, or atheists, or anyone not saved, right?
I think it is clear — clerks cannot refuse to serve someone asking for a service if the persons asking have fulfilled the obligations as outlined in the law, no matter what the clerk may think about the persons making the request. The clerks’ ability to practice their religion has not been hindered — unless “practicing their religion” includes practicing discrimination.