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Meditation 1166
A morally unacceptable law

by: John Tyrrell

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In Michigan, the state House of Representatives has passed a bill dishonestly named the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. It is not yet law - it still has to pass the state Senate and be signed by the Governor.

What is the religious freedom the bill claims to restore?

The freedom to discriminate based on religious belief; the freedom to refuse to provide goods and services to others simply because the provider can find justification in his or her religious beliefs to discriminate against others.

This is not restoring religious freedom - it is legalizing the imposition of religious intolerance.

Perhaps "Restoration" is appropriate in the name of the act, but what is being restored are the barriers of the past - the right to discriminate based on skin colour, on nationality, on religion, on sex, on sexual orientation.

We have torn down these barriers to one degree or another over the past 60 or so years. The result is greater freedom for everyone. And the Michigan House of Representatives has voted to take that increased freedom away - they have voted to empower every bigot in the state Michigan to unilaterally and openly discriminate against anyone they feel like discriminating against - all they have to do is find some flimsy religious justification.

It is a morally unacceptable law.

Further:

I had been thinking of writing a much longer article - I didn't have time - in which I'd consider the implications of religious belief overruling medicine - along with the impact of religious belief on various other professions. In looking for some ideas, I came across this:

Physicians should rise above this ignorance. We should be held to a different standard because people’s lives are literally in our hands. While we are in the hospital, we shouldn’t express any of our political or personal beliefs, not to each other, and certainly not to our patients. - - Alberto Hazan (When treating neo-Nazis, should physicians have a choice?)

And that's where my longer article would have led. Those in the medical profession are in the business of delivering medical care, not religion. Those employed in running commercial establishments are in the business of selling goods and services, not religion. And those employed by the government are in the business of serving everyone in the community, not just those who meet their particular religious standards.

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