Religious Freedom Bill
USA Today has posted an article titled “Michigan House passes religious freedom bill”: http://usat.ly/1q4C6U2. The bill of interest offered some intriguing insight into the more general insecurities that our contemporary society holds toward religion.Michigan House has essentially fast tracked a bill to the senate that is said to allow for religious freedom where government is involved. The ultimate gist of the bill is intended to provide protection to individuals “asserting a sincerely held religious belief…”. This idea seems to bundle religious assertions and place them under the rule of secular body, allowing the government to control religious matters. Opponents of the bill bring up numerous examples of how this bill could be used as protection toward religious assertions that are unfair, such as “social workers who are opposed to war on religious ground could refuse to serve military members…”. Proponents largely deny these scenarios as invalid individual concerns, which are not matters that the bill is intended to address. The same House then went on to pass a separate package of bills that seemed to contradict this argument though, which “would allow adoption agencies to refuse services to people if that violated their sincerely held religious beliefs”. Furthermore, the bill was criticized as running over the same ground already covered by the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act. Any Democratic amendment that pushed this point had failed, and with full Republican support, the bill now moves on to the state Senate.
The only somewhat justified and sensible examples on one side, against the lackluster and contradictory defenses on the other, made this article quite tricky to process without further information. As such my opinions on the matter felt quite naïve. I think that, as it was worded in the article, the bill is made with good intentions. While the civil rights act does still exist and does argue the free exercise of religion as a basic principle, the bill would serve as a more specific armour when taking religious action against government. This would effectively increase tolerance towards religious communities, which is a good thing. But passing a bill that does seem to cross paths with already set legislation, namely the civil rights act, can introduce calamity and contradiction in the eyes of the law. Shouldn’t there be a push towards an amendment to the civil rights act instead of passing a new bill which would only serve to complicate matters already complex? Though, again, my ignorance towards the legal system (especially of the U.S.) makes my suggestion spineless. I would definitely agree with the proponents of the bill with regards to the frivolity and thus invalidity of the repeated specific scenarios of the bill providing protection to unfair and obviously unjust acts offered by opponents.