Recently the issue of religious freedom came to the fore over a bakery that refused to provide a wedding cake for a gay couple, with the owner of the bakery claiming that her religious beliefs would not allow her to support a same-sex union. Opponents and much of the media tossed that reason aside and claimed her refusal was discriminatory; they demanded that the federal government take action immediately to end such intolerance. You might have noticed that their demands bypassed the state and local level to instantly become a federal issue. The bakery owner faced intense media scrutiny and mounting pressure to provide the wedding cake, but she maintained she would rather close her business than violate her religious beliefs. Her perspective, however, seemed to fall on deaf ears.
Now, I am sure that a number of readers can review the scenario and come away with different perspectives. We do live in a nation where that is possible, and hopefully we still live in a nation where situations like this can be resolved without federal intervention. In the above narrative we have the element of religious belief; the demand for gay rights, and, of course, the business owner’s right to decide how to run her business, although there are no specific rights involved. The gay couple has the freedom to solicit business at any establishment they choose, and any establishment has the freedom to turn that business away based on religious beliefs or anything else for that matter--say, not wearing a shirt, for example. But generally speaking, most prudent business persons do not knowingly turn away business on the basis of simple likes or dislikes.
Our founding documents establish the basis and reasoning for our form of government and charges specific entities with the responsibility and the authority to see that these principles are guarded and protected. These documents, first and foremost, are meant to protect the American people from the tyranny of government. The documents do not exist to empower the government, but more so to regulate and limit the power the government has over the individual. This same truth extends to the state level where representatives of the people clearly have the right to decide issues without involving the federal courts. No matter who is in Oval Office, the Congress, or holding forth on the benches of our Supreme Court, these truths should be a constant of our society.
But lately they are not. Imagine if you stopped into a local butcher shop which is convenient to your neighborhood. Your friends have told you about their great meat cuts. You enter the shop and Abraham the butcher greets you. You order five pounds of pork chops. Abraham shakes his head sadly and tells you that he will not fill the order because he is a Muslim and his religion does not allow him to touch pork. Nevertheless, you believe that Abraham is refusing your order because you are not a Muslim—you feel that he is discriminating. You take to the streets to protest and try to raise a case against Abraham.
Now, you could take your business elsewhere and get the five pounds of pork chops, but you want them from that shop and that shop only. Abraham has denied your request, and so you want it even more. Your desire to force Abraham to comply with your wishes has nothing to do with religious freedom and, as far as you are concerned, religious freedom has no place in business either!
In our world today, such a scenario would have the same media that excoriated the baker up in arms to protect the religious freedom of Abraham. For some odd reason, the American media will rise up to glorify Islam yet thumb its nose at similar claims made by those of the Christian faith. This is where we are in America today, and I wish I could tell you why. Somewhere along the line, political correctness took the place of our founding documents and common sense. As a result, we face a grave future which may send our heritage right down the drain. Those documents should afford both the baker and the butcher the same freedoms.
There is no question that force can be used if arms are twisted in political circles. When that force is used at the federal level, both the individual and the State lose some of their rights and a precedence is set. If our federal government can force a baker to fill an order, then where does the use of such force stop in the future? Why is the use of force applied in some circumstances and not others? And what are the limits of force once precedence is set by an ever-growing federal government?
As a business person, I have the option to bid on projects which employ my skills. Enter the federal government and now I am required to bid although I do not want the project nor do I want to do business with those directing it. What just happened to my freedom as an American? Do we live in a society today where the use of deadly force by the police concerns us, yet the use of the power of the almighty government does not? I think we might.
Under our founding documents, the freedoms of the people are many and not necessarily spelled out, unless they are denied by law at the local, state, or federal level. Lately we seem to be confusing what constitutes a freedom versus what constitutes a right, and asking the government to make new rules that will undoubtedly handcuff us as citizens and cede more power to the government. That is exactly what our forefathers were running from when they came to this land and started over. They would be horrified to see us throw it all away so easily.
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