Fort Mill Times

Letter: Religious freedom confused

With earnest people explaining why their religious liberty is being threatened and therefore do not want to fulfill the obligations of the job they voluntarily accepted, they must either get over it or find a new job.

The First Amendment protects your right as an American to the free exercise of your religion. It does not protect your right to use your religion as an excuse to discriminate against other Americans. There is a critical difference between feeling discriminated against because you’re disagreed with and being discriminated against because of who you are. The former is merely unpleasant as nobody likes to be disagreed with, but the latter is unconstitutional.

The line between these two should not be blurred.

Clergy are protected from being forced to marry anybody. Roman Catholic priests cannot be forced to marry divorced couples. Orthodox Rabbis cannot be forced to marry interfaith couples. That protection does not, however, extend to someone carrying out their duties as a county clerk when it comes to issuing licenses. If such a position were allowed to prevail then a Muslim working at the Division of Motor Vehicles would be allowed to refuse to issue drivers’ licenses to women and a Hindu could refuse to issue fishing licenses because killing/eating fish is against their religion. Your personal opinions and beliefs about who should or should not be getting married has absolutely no bearing on who you issue marriage licenses to as a county clerk.

If given a new state right to not issue licenses to anyone as a compromise position were to exist, shouldn’t the clerk have their wages reduced for not performing all of their job requirements? That would be generous as employers usually discharge people for not doing the job they were hired for.

If you go into business with the intent to sell to the public, then you cannot discriminate between segments of the public. Private clubs may do that but not public establishments. When taking the order for a sandwich will you ask the customer about their sexual orientation and then refuse to serve them? Would you ask a man if he fathered a child out of wedlock and then turn him away? Which sinners would you sell to and which won’t you? Perhaps these theoretically religiously oppressed store owners should keep a box of rocks next to their cash registers so they being without sin can throw the first stone.

The Founding Fathers knew what they were doing when they wrote the First Amendment, and what they were doing was making us a nation founded on the bedrock value of religious liberty that provides both freedom of and freedom from religion. Thus not only protecting each and every one of us to believe what we choose but also protecting us from discrimination based on the beliefs of others.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, lest the next establishment you patron or government service you request find some fault with you and turn you away.

It’s Freedom OF Religion – as in believe whatever you choose or choose not to believe.

It’s not Freedom TO IMPOSE Religion – as in confuse your theology with our democracy.

Keith Brann, Fort Mill