The State of Religious Liberty

Tuesday, voters in the overwhelmingly Democrat city of Houston struck down an ordinance granting men the right to enter female bathrooms. Despite being outspent steeply by proponents of the ordinance, this egregious super-right for a newly protected class was defeated 61-38% with high turnout.

Sadly, Tuesday was an aberration in the long march towards the creation of extra rights for protected classes because the courts and the bureaucracies have completely disenfranchised the voters from deciding societal questions.

Everyone remembers Kim Davis being thrown into jail for upholding Kentucky law and merely abstaining from serving a concept that never existed at the time of our Constitution and the ratification of the 14th Amendment. We are all aware of the numerous stories of individuals who have been fined for not servicing homosexual marriages with their private property and businesses– all while asserting religious convictions – convictions that are undeniably “deeply rooted in our nation’s history and tradition.”

Two weeks ago, the Obama administration’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recognized the “religious freedom” rights of Muslims to coerce their will on private companies. They litigated a case before the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois alleging that Star Transport, a trucking company, discriminated against two Muslim truck drivers by firing them for refusing to deliver truckloads of beer, citing their religious objections to the consumption of alcoholic beverages. The judge awarded the two truck drivers $250,000.

Consider for a moment what has happened to our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

The Gifford family in New York and the Klines in Oregon were unable to assert religious objections to performing a service with their own private property and private businesses to service homosexual marriages. They were fined for not engaging in involuntary servitude against their religious convictions, thereby violating their religious liberty, private property rights, and pursuit of happiness and commerce.

Yet, a Muslim is able to compel his religious objections on another private company in a way that completely undermines the job description of a truck driver, thereby violating the property rights of the private business.

This is not complicated. There are three common scenarios where religious objections come into play:

When the business owner asserts religious objections with his own property

When a government employee asserts religious objections in performing a service in the public realm

When an employee of a private business asserts religious objections against someone else’s private property

True equality expressed in the Declaration guaranteeing everyone the right to protection against harm of their life, liberty, or property, would dictate that everyone has the right to exercise their religious beliefs with their own property (#1) but nobody has the right to use their religious objections to infringe upon other people’s property rights and demand private employment (#3). Obtaining employment from an employer is a privilege, not a right. Madison was one of the most passionate believers in religious conscience, which he referred to as “the most sacred of all property,” yet he made it clear that it must only be honored “in every case where it does not trespass on private rights or the public peace.”

In the case of a government employee (#2), the tradition of our country has always been to accommodate as many religious needs to those citizens seeking employment with the federal government, assuming those beliefs don’t place an undue burden on the performance of the job.

Now let’s apply this equation to some recent examples.

In the case of Kim Davis, not only was she asserting the belief that existed in the country since its founding, she was following the law of the State of Kentucky that had never been re-written in light of the Court’s lawless decision.

In the case of the Kline and Gifford families, they were asserting their religious convictions, deeply rooted in history and tradition, to protect their own property from servicing something that is completely new – the antithesis of a fundamental right.

And finally, in the case of the Muslim truck drivers, they were forcing a private business to accommodate their burdensome objection – not delivering beer – which is not rooted in our history and tradition.

Alas, the EEOC and the courts have turned the concept of equality and fundamental rights upside down, inside out.

On the other hand, there is a degree of consistency to their agenda. They have created protected classes that are afforded super rights and privileges. Clearly, they have exhibited a biased treatment towards Muslims, gays, non-whites, and under the current leadership of the EEOC – transgendered individuals.

Governments were created to guard the unalienable rights of all citizens equally without favoring any class. The problem with concocting super rights for favored classes is that it invariably infringes upon the unalienable rights of all citizens. Nobody explained this concept more sagaciously than John Quincy Adams in a letter to a German official in his capacity as Secretary of State under James Monroe. “This is a land, not of privileges, but of equal rights. Privileges are granted by European sovereigns to particular classes of individuals, for purposes of general policy; but the general impression here is that privileges granted to one denomination of people, can very seldom be discriminated from erosions of the rights of others.” [emphasis added]

With affirmative action, the homosexual religious coercion, minority super rights, and the pursuit of politically motivated and subjective equal outcomes – all examples of privileges – the “erosions” of those self-evident, unalienable rights are in full swing. Our entrepreneurs, the backbone of our free economy, are under constant fear of lawsuits over hiring and firing and often have to accommodate absurd behavior or tolerate disturbances that defy common sense in order to pay homage to the pagan alter of political correctness – the altar that has sacrificed the only true expression of equality embedded in the Declaration.

During the debate over the 14th Amendment, Rep. John F. Farnsworth (R-IL) noted that everything in what would become Section 1 of the 14th Amendment was taken straight from the 5th Amendment and inspired by the Declaration. He observed that the only new language, “the equal protection of the laws,” was not new at all to the original Constitution but indeed the “very foundation of a Republican government.” “How can a subject “have and enjoy equal rights of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ without ‘equal protection of the laws’?” asked Farnsworth.

Indeed, now that the original Constitution and it reaffirmation in the 14th Amendment have been bastardized for the purpose of creating special privileges and protected classes, we are painfully aware of how the lack of equal protection has abridged the most unalienable rights of all citizens. (For more from the author of “The State of Religious Liberty” please click HERE)

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