Paul Waldman has a good piece in The American Prospect on the folks who are demanding special rights for themselves.
Up until now, the distinction between religious practice and the things religious people do when they enter the secular world has worked pretty well. Anti-discrimination laws don’t mean that a rabbi has to conduct a wedding for two Baptists. Religious organizations can hire only people of their own faith. But once you enter into other realms, like commerce, you have to obey the laws that govern those realms.
If we grant religious people the kind of elevated citizenship conservatives are now demanding, where the special consideration given to religious practice is extended to anything a religious person does, the results could be truly staggering. Why stop at commerce? If things like employment law and anti-discrimination laws don’t apply to religious people, what about zoning laws, or laws on domestic abuse, or laws in any other realm?
The supporters of these laws, and of Hobby Lobby, argue that religious people shouldn’t have to put aside their beliefs when they act in the secular world. “It’s alien to me that a business owner can’t reflect his faith in his business,” said one Republican Arizona legislator. But when your business puts you in contact with people who don’t share your faith, putting aside your religion is precisely what you have to do, if “reflecting” that religion means violating the law.
He goes on to note that ironically, the Religious Right has been claiming for decades that the gay community has been demanding “special rights,” including the right to have a job, to live in an apartment, get married, or collect tax benefits because they’ve been denied them based on their sexual orientation. (Even if they were granted, they’d only be catching up to everyone else, so they’re not really all that “special.”)
Now the Religious Right is claiming their own special right to discriminate against other people not just in their churches but in their workplace, as if their faith was the shield against being held to the same standards as the lower forms of life who have not accepted Jesus Ronald Reagan Christ as their personal savior and insurance agent.
That’s not how it works.