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I'll take Constitution for $1,777. Who is Thomas Jefferson?

By Jesseba Fernando
On March 5, 2014

In preemptive defense against the threats to religious freedom, Arizona decides to draw up a bill that allows private business owners or employees to deny service to whomever they feel infringes on their religion. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed Arizona's bill, SB 1062, also known as the "anti-gay bill," on Wednesday. Though the bill does not explicitly deny rights to any demographic, the bill's vague wording opens the floodgates for criticism from small business owners to corporations as well as other Republicans. This bill essentially allows for people to refuse service to others based on religious beliefs. This brings in the Church's stance on homosexuality. Jon Stewart feels the bill is "morally repugnant." The idea of progressivism in America may have the potential to be a self-fulfilling prophecy; however, the fact that a bill of this nature was drafted in the first place makes it difficult for me to truly believe in individual freedom.
A little over 100 years ago, Chief Justice Waite wrote in Reynolds v United States "Freedom of religion means freedom to hold an opinion or belief, but not to take action in violation of social duties or subversive to good order." In 1776, Thomas Jefferson drafted the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, which states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
The devolution of social reform is becoming more apparent. This bill is a blatant breach of the Constitution of the United States. It not only encourages an establishment of religion, but also condones discrimination through one's religion. There is a Lemon Test, which the Supreme Court follows to prevent "excessive government entanglement." It was established in the Lemon v Kurtzman case "First, the statute must have a secular legislative purpose; second, its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion; finally, the statute must not foster an excessive government entanglement with religion."
Now, the SB 1062 has the reference title "Exercise of Religion: State Action". This defies the first prong of the Lemon Test. The second definition given in this bill explains how the exercise of religion means practice or observance of a religion includes the ability to act or refuse to act in "a manner substantially motivated by religious belief". We are now advancing religion in this bill, which defies the second prong of the Lemon Test. Finally, drafting this bill to further strengthen religious freedom entangles the United States government. This not only defies the third prong of the test but also directly violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.
Not to say that one doesn't have the right to say no to whomever they want. However, there shouldn't be a legislation promoting discrimination as long as there is a religious belief to validate it. People and businesses discriminate in every possible way, even to this day. However, the fact that we can still hold them accountable for their actions is what makes up the checks and balances system for our society.
The focus on individual freedom is so myopic; we are losing perspective on the whole picture. One group of people is gaining the freedom to tear down the liberty of whomever they so choose based on religious freedom.  


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