Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: The nation is having debates regarding PC issues — so we will, too

Published: Sunday, Nov. 17 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

Webb: Civil rights and religious rights are both very important. But they can quickly come into conflict if demands for self-defined civil rights come at the expense of someone else’s religious freedom. Reasonable people agree that statutes and government ordinances should not discriminate against gay and lesbian people in housing and employment. On the other hand, most reasonable people agree that churches and pastors should not be forced by law to violate deeply-held religious tenets. A church should not be required, for example, to hire a gay pastor, or provide housing to a lesbian couple, if doing so conflicts with church doctrine.

But things get murky when it comes to the religious beliefs of private individuals and business owners. Should a private landlord whose religion does not sanction same-sex marriage be forced to rent to a gay couple? Should a florist be required to sell flowers for a gay marriage? Religious freedom, unfortunately, is taking a drubbing in this battle. Religious freedom is being eroded across the country and the world, and thoughtful people need to work to protect it.

Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. Email: lwebb@exoro.com. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. Pignanelli served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as minority leader. His spouse, D’Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is a state tax commissioner. Email: frankp@xmission.com.

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