Religious freedom does not outweigh human rights

North Carolina’s bill to make transgender people use the bathroom that matches the gender on their birth certificate is being protested by Disney, Netflix, big pharma, tech companies and even adult entertainment sites.

However, there is also the growing problem of “religious restoration” acts similar to that of North Carolina’s.

Today feels a bit regressive, as if the world is sliding back to the days of the “Jim Crow” laws maintaining “separate but equal” treatment — with the justification of discrimination coming through religion.

For all of America’s ramblings on being better, more civilized and refined than the Middle East and Eastern Asia when it comes to the treatment of marginalized groups like LGTBQ, oh how our country is quick to adopt the very same extremist religious rhetoric that allows for gay men and women to be beheaded in the streets.

To give you a brief overview of the North Carolina Religious Freedom Restoration Act, it calls for strict scrutiny of cases in which a person’s exercise of religion is burdened by the State and defines the exercise of religion as “The practice or observance of religion.

It includes, but is not limited to the ability to act or refuse to act in a manner substantially motivated by one’s sincerely held religious beliefs, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.”

So, what does that mean? Basically, if you are an individual or business owner, you have the right to refuse service or to not provide a service if the other person lives in a way that is contrary to your “religious convictions” — kicking down the door of human rights and allowing discrimination to push through under the guise of “Religious Freedom.”

Now, I have been told you can polish a turd but at the end of the day it’s still just a piece of crap. There’s no way to sugar coat it; discrimination is still discrimination, no matter how it is defended or exercised.

We asked readers of The Daily Evergreen to weigh in on this issue and many students and members of the community agreed that discrimination generally isn’t okay; one exception mentioned was the Indian Child Welfare Act that seeks to keep displaced children within the community of their tribal origin.

There were even a few posts with political cartoons showing racism and discrimination in a café, or one discussing how Jesus ate regularly with thieves, women of the night and even tax collectors.

Having grown up in a very religious, Christian household, from my understanding Jesus was all about loving all members of society and it broke his heart to see people hurt or discriminated against in anyway.

In a way he was sort of the first major human rights activist.

“I think they should have to serve everybody. I believe your religious rights stop when they interfere with the human rights of someone else,” said Bruce Calkins, owner of Bruised Books in downtown Pullman. Calkins described our community here in Pullman as “pretty open and accepting and safe from similar religious laws,” and went on to say if such a bill were passed within the city or this state, he wouldn’t support it.

Monique Slipher, an employee at Bruised Books who has worked in all types of retail shops in Pullman, said she could never be in support of such a bill. “Protecting freedom of speech by not serving a certain population runs a bit counter to our first amendment rights to freedom of the press,” Slipher said, basically asserting that books and other print media are intended for everyone.

We wouldn’t see an Oprah book with a sticker on it that says “No Gays” or a Trump book that comes with an explicit content warning or a “no immigrant can purchase” sticker. Why? Because religious freedom, or, in this case, religious discrimination, has no place in commerce or the civilized world.

No one, including the government, should be allowed to take away someone’s access to books, news or the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness based on sexual orientation, gender or religion.

Should Muslims not sell to Christians? Should people of the Jewish faith not sell to atheists? If their religion compels or “convicts” them to act or not act, technically they are protected within states that have passed religious freedom bills through the legislatures, including North Carolina, South Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, Idaho, Florida, Connecticut, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Rhode Island, Texas and Virginia.

The majority of the states listed above already had religious freedom acts passed long before the ruling of the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same sex marriage in 2015, does not mean the battle for LGTBQ rights is over — that battle is looking longer and more grueling than ever.

If we allow businesses to make decisions on who they sell goods and services to based on their “religious convictions,” where does it end?

What if you aren’t religious? Where the hell are you going to shop? How do legislatures even enforce these laws? Will I have to pull out a Christian card or wear a fish symbol on my jacket in order to buy milk at the market?

This is starting to sound a lot like Germany in 1939 right before World War II, or the 50s and 60s when the KKK and segregation were at their height.

Do we really want that type of world?