Freedom of religion is one of our most fundamental rights as Americans. This is why it is already protected in the very First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution. However, up and coming Religious Exemption laws making their way into states across the county would allow an individual to use their religious beliefs to discriminate against others by denying them goods and services.
How will these new laws affect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and families?
The languages of these bills vary from state to state, but one thing is clear, the lives of LGBT people and their families will be greatly affected. When these bills become law, individuals will have the right based on a personally deeply held religious belief to refuse service, accommodations, goods and protections to LGBT people.
Will these laws affect only LGBT people?
No. As these harmful discrimination laws make their way into states it would allow individuals to claim that any number of laws – including, but not limited to domestic violence and nondiscrimination laws – don’t apply to them.
- A hotel owner who objects to cohabitation outside of marriage could refuse to provide a room to any unmarried couple.
- A landlord who believes a man should be the head of a household could refuse to rent an apartment to a single mother.
- A guidance counselor could refuse to help a gay teenager by saying it goes again their religious belief.
- An abusive spouse could claim that domestic violence laws do not apply to them because their religion teaches that a spouse has the right to discipline their family (their spouse and children)as they see fit.
As a Christian what can I do to help stop these bills from becoming laws?
The single most important action you can take towards ensuring all Americans remain free from discrimination is to start a conversation with the people you know about why caring for individuals, families, and communities is important to you. Think about who you can talk with. • Schedule a meeting your State Representative or write them an email to share how your faith teaches that discrimination is wrong.
- Write a letter to your editor. Letters to the editor are one of the most read sections of your paper. Be public in your support against discrimination.
- Talk with your pastor about why this matters and encourage them to make a public statement in your church newsletter, Facebook page or blog. Ask them to talk about it in one of their sermons.
- Let people know your faith teaches you to love God and love your neighbour and that it is not your place to judge others but to treat others as you would want to be treated