Hate is not a family value. Neither is family a hate value. But a new generation of modern bullies would have every Utahn believe that devout people of faith — dedicated to their families and the common good of society — are bigots. During the 2015 legislative session, Utah’s leaders have a great opportunity to throw cold water on these bullies by passing a state Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
Unlike their childhood predecessors, these modern bullies are no longer contained to the schoolyard. Nor have they matured to eventually learn the wrongs of their childish ways. Instead of being tempered by life, making them more tolerant and understanding of others and more self-assured about themselves, their hatred grows toward anyone who believes differently than they do.
Their victims are people of faith, family and freedom.
Unlike past responses to racism — wherein hearts and minds were rightly changed to elevate God’s children as equals — today’s bullies seek the legal, economic and cultural subordination of anyone who dares to disagree with them. The new bullies are to pluralism what slave owners were to freedom.
Deceptive buzzwords such as equality, tolerance and fairness announce their duplicitous intentions. And if this bullying is allowed to go on much further, everyone will become equally, tolerantly and fairly enslaved by a singularly narrow view of the world.
These could be the last days of true freedom if we allow ourselves to be bullied in this manner. It is time for all people of good will, all people who understand true freedom, all people who believe in “live and let live,” all people who seek the common good of society, to stand up and be counted.
Utah needs new “anti-bullying” legislation that protects our religious freedom and individual conscience. We need it to protect us from the unavoidable and impending conflicts between belief and unbelief, the common good and sexual politics, morality and immorality, and ultimately, pluralism and intolerance. Utah needs the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
A state RFRA in Utah (like the precedent-setting federal model used to defend Hobby Lobby) would maintain pluralism, rightly balance legal conflicts between modern bullies and their victims, and protect the common good. Before any assault on a person’s freedom of conscience or religious freedom could be entertained in a Utah court, a state RFRA would require judges to consider a “compelling state interest” to justify a bully’s assault and the “least restrictive means” to execute it.
In other words, if individual conscience and religious freedom are going to be attacked, under RFRA, the state better have a good reason to justify any attack — and then only do so to the degree it must to protect conscience and belief. RFRA is “anti-bullying” legislation because it forces modern bullies to behave in polite society. It civilizes virulent divisiveness.
Anyone who believes in truth understands it exists in a marketplace of ideas. Western civilization has had thousands of years to work through and establish universal truths about human dignity and what it means to be a human being. Modern bullies throw aside the wisdom of millennia as they trample freedom of conscience and people of faith in pursuit of selfish sexual politics.
Modern bullies go too far in their attempts to limit free speech, freedom of association and the right to make a living — as well as brand as bigots all people with whom they disagree about sexual politics. Utah is ground zero in this litigious and contentious culture war. We are not immune from these attacks on our individual conscience and religious freedom. The 2015 Legislature needs to pass a state RFRA.
Paul Mero lives in Sandy, Utah, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.