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Freedom of religion

March 30, 2012 - Nikki Younk
It’s a Constitutional right. It’s also the hot political topic of the moment. It's "freedom of religion."

On the national level, there’s the debate over whether Catholic employers should have to provide birth control coverage to employees, even though the Catholic Church is against contraception.

There are similar debates raging on in the individual states. For example, in Kansas, the proposed Preservation of Religious Freedom Act seeks to limit local municipalities from adding categories — specifically sexual orientation and gender identity — to anti-discrimination laws. The logic behind it is that sexual orientation shouldn’t be a protected category, because it could force employers to hire, or landlords to lease to, people who are living a lifestyle that is against their religious beliefs.

Now, I do support religious freedom — to a point. No one should be discriminated against due to his or her religious beliefs. However, it becomes a sticky situation when one person’s religious beliefs start intruding on other people’s religious, or lack of religious, beliefs. This would be the case if employers deny birth control coverage to their employees, or if employers refuse to hire people of certain sexual orientations.

Another thought — what “religions” and “religious beliefs” would be covered under these laws? What if I’m part of a religious group that doesn’t believe in modern medicine? If I’m also an employer, do I have the right to deny all medical coverage to my employees based on my religious beliefs? What if my religion allows polygamy? Do I have the right to violate marriage laws based on my religious beliefs? It could be a slippery slope, indeed.

Unfortunately, I don’t know if there’s a solution out there that’s fair to everyone.



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