By Tony Perkins, Family Research Council
Work isn’t a “faith-free zone” — but try telling that to Arizona liberals. There, the Left’s propaganda machine is in full force, cranking out one distortion after the next in what should be a non-controversial debate over religious liberty. The hysteria started late last week, when the state’s legislature gave the green light to a bill that protects business owners and other for-profit entities from being forced to provide a service that violates their beliefs. Like other states, Arizona was desperately looking for a way to shield companies like Hobby Lobby or Elane Photography who were ordered to surrender their personal convictions as a “price of citizenship.”
And while liberals try to paint the bill as “controversial,” the reality is that Arizona’s measure only strengthens the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) already on the state’s books. Unfortunately, the Left is looking at the bill through the skewed lens of same-sex “marriage,” instead of the many ways it could be applied to shield Americans of all faiths from religious censorship or coercion. They claim the measure would be used to deny homosexuals service of any kind — which is a selective reading meant to scare people into opposing a reasonable bill.
In reality, SB 1026 would level the playing field for private business owners, whose religious liberty has taken a backseat to the radical agendas of same-sex “marriage” and abortion coverage in recent months. Like most Americans, the Arizona legislature watched in horror when Christian bakers lost their shops over same-sex “weddings,” florists were hauled in front of human rights commissions, and Catholic nuns were forced to sue the government for the right not to cover contraception. In a subtle but devastating shift, the burden has shifted to business owners to prove they aren’t guilty of discrimination — when in fact, they’re just exercising their religious rights. (The same religious rights which, not-so-coincidentally, our nation was founded on.) We’ve watched the courts declare that people’s sincerely-held religious beliefs don’t permit them to run their privately-owned businesses accordingly.
Arizona leaders understand, as we do, that Americans shouldn’t have to leave their faith at home. Despite what the Left would have you believe, there’s no footnote in the Constitution exempting businessmen and women from their First Amendment rights. But in the brave new world of political correctness, too many liberals have graduated from the Chai Feldblum school of activism. Feldblum, the President’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission head famously said she “had a hard time coming up with any case in which religious freedom should win” in a clash with sexual liberty. But real equality — the kind the Left insists it wants — demands that everyone, not just a vocal few, have the ability to live and work according to their conscience. If you’re against the Arizona bill, then you’re really against First Amendment rights.
Arizonans will find out in the next day or two which side Governor Jan Brewer (R) is on. The state’s leader has until Friday to decide if Arizona will push back on the oppression of religious liberty — or join it.