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Adoption, abortion and the pledge: Controversial religious liberty cases

Published: Thursday, Sept. 26 2013 12:54 p.m. MDT

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Associated Press

Despite expectations that the Arab Spring uprisings would lead to religious freedoms, a Pew Research Center study found just the opposite has occurred. In 2011, the Middle East and North Africa experienced pronounced increases in social hostilities involving religion, while government restrictions on religion remained exceptionally high.



The ongoing news accounts of religious persecution and sectarian violence in the region confirm that religious freedom must first be established before security and economic stability can take hold, said Tom Farr, a former American diplomat who is now director of the Religious Freedom Project at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University.



"If you want democracy to work, you have to move first toward religious freedom. That would mean freedom for all religious groups," Farr said. "Right now, democracy at the moment (in the region) would be no more liberating than despotism."

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Ranch
Here, UT

Hobby Lobby is not a religion. Business owners are not religions. The business owner has no right to force employees to adhere to their values and the employees DO pay premiums on the insurance policies - they should have a say in what coverage they get.

Business owners have no business judging the "morals" of their customers. They're there to provide a product or service to their customers, regardless of who their customers are.

The Pledge of Allegiance was changed to include "under god"; it can just as easily be changed to remove the phrase.

Schools are not religions. Public meetings are not religions. They both have diverse populations and catering to a specific set of religious observances should be prohibited.

Religious people should be allowed to wear whatever they desire, just like the rest of the population.

spring street
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

Os ere is my question is the public accommodation laws wrong or are they only wrong when it comes to the LGBT community? If they are only wrong when it comes to the LGBT community, why?
three is a very clear and dsad history behind why we have public accommodation laws but to many seem ready to throw all those hard lessons out the door because of their negative personal feelings about the LGBT community.

jfarker
Temecula, CA

Dear Ranch and Spring Street and other interested readers,

If you think this is only about the LGBT community, or about organized religion, allow me to expand your vision a little bit. Every individual on earth, whether they are a business owner or not, has the natural right of conscience. Government can neither grant nor deny natural rights. Congress may just as well try to repeal the law of gravity. The words would be wasted, their effect null, the legislation void on its face. It is not about 'judging' customers, it is about free will. No government entity has the moral or legal authority to force me to believe or disbelieve, approve or disapprove, support or withhold support for something that I cannot, in good conscience, support, approve or believe. This is a basic truth, a natural law which cannot be vetoed any more than the law of gravity. If you can't understand this, I simply don't know how to continue the conversation. Read up on Natural Law and the Bill of rights, then we'll talk.

EternalPerspective
Eldersburg, MD

Ranch

On the surface your arguments are sound and they will appeal to many people who live in these times. However, reading between the lines, one can plainly see that they only uphold part of the constitution that favors those who seek to make such policies against non-profit and for-profit organizations that are directly or indirectly backed by religious underpinnings.

Fortunately, our founding fathers also sought to include a clause to protect the rights and freedoms of religious interests, organizations, and people of faith from being trampled on by those who sought to take away such liberties. The constitution was created as a binding promise that liberties would be guaranteed under the law.

Have all groups ever had the freedoms of the constitution entirely enforced on their behalf with its implementation over the centuries of American history? No, unfortunately they haven't and slavery was one of the biggest violators.

However, does the end justify the means in that we should artificially cater to groups who have been unfairly treated by tipping the scales in the other direction that those historically persecuted now receive a disproportionate amount of freedom, while it is taken away from other groups?

azbarlow
Gilbert, AZ

Someone doesn't shed his religious freedom and expression rights when he starts a business. An employer can fashion his business to match his personal beliefs/values, hire people who reflect those values, and determine what salaries/benefits he wants to offer employees. If his actions relative to his employees or customers are inappropriate - the market will take care of that. If you don't agree with the policies of business A; you vote with your feet and walk down the sidewalk to business B. That is quintessentially American; government coercion is not.

Schools and public meetings may not be religions, but the individuals who attend, participate and work in these entities often are religious. Religious manifestations (prayers, symbols, attire) of an individual don't violate any constitutional principle. Driving religion from the public square doesn't make a government "neutral," it simply creates an environment that unjustly favors secularism. Ranch, you are a secular fundamentalist and are no more rational than the religious fundamentalists you regularly berate.

There is no constitutional right to have someone bake you a wedding cake or take your photos. But there is a constitutional right to freedom of religion/expression; it's called the First Amendment.

Eliyahu
Pleasant Grove, UT

In deciding whether to advocate for the right of someone to extend his religious beliefs and practices into the workplace or into public schools and public property, we need to consider whether we would feel the same way if it were a religion or religious practices that we dislike or despise; not just those beliefs that match our own. Would you support a Muslim teacher teaching her prayers to the classroom where your child attends, and then telling the children to join in? How about a nurse working in a hospital, who didn't belief in blood transfusions and refused to assist in them? What about a member of the Christian Identity movement who believes non-whites are inferior and wants to exclude them from his business? It's easy to support those who believe as you do. The real test of whether you feel a constitutional basis for practices, though, is when it applies to beliefs you can't condone. If you can only support what you like, it's bias, not Constitution.

New to Utah
PAYSON, UT

Obama has governed to the far left. He has campaigned nonstop for gay and lesbian rights and same sex marriage. His attorney general has used partisanship rather than negotiation to set his agenda. Religious rights of small businesses have been under attact. If it were the opposite a conservative doing the same thing it would be so terrible impeachment proceeding would have already started.

dizzy dame
Mesa, Az

To: Ranch I have a suggestion for you....If you don't like the way a business is run -- what they require of their employees....shop somewhere else.....I feel like a business has a right to run their business however they wish --- set the rules and standards for their employees....If any of this is offensive or annoying to you --- then shop somewhere else. That is the great thing about "freedom".

procuradorfiscal
Tooele, UT

Re: "The business owner has no right to force employees to adhere to their values . . . ."

But, at least in liberal bizarro world, employees apparently DO have the right to force business owners to adhere to their values.

Hmmmmmm.

RFLASH
Salt Lake City, UT

We are not what you say we are! God most certainly does not share your ideas about who I am as a gay person! It is absurd that I should have to defend the fact that I am a child of God, and I am part of a family. I shouldn't have to get Mormon approval to marry! As a matter of fact, it shouldn't be any of their business! I am a child of God and I am a fellow human being. It is disgusting that people use God as an excuse to heap their dark ugly thoughts onto others! Don't tell me that discrimination comes from God! Yeah, someone can say " I don't believe " and then proceed to do something that demeans another human being . Anyone who has experienced it knows that it is wrong!!!!! A child would know it! It is so disgusting! There will come a day when God allows us to come forth and defend ourselves! It is wrong. It is horrible! It has effected my whole life! We are not going back! Ever! So, you can treat us like trash to our faces and do whatever you want!

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