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Religious Americans Had Better Prepare For Nonviolent Resistance

By  Ben Shapiro

Well, here we go.

With the Supreme Court verging on the brink of a full-scale leftist takeover, and with the gay marriage caucus now utilizing the law as a baton to club wrong-thinking religious people into acceptance of homosexuality, it is up to the states to resist.

Today, we found out that Georgia won’t.

Governor Nathan Deal, a Democrat-turned-Republican, vetoed a bill from the state legislature designed to protect religious Americans from having to participate in or incentivize homosexual activity. Deal, who felt pressure from corporations ranging from the NFL to Apple to Disney to veto the bill, did his politically correct duty, and pronounced the bill unfit: “Our people work side by side without regard to the color of our skin, or the religion we adhere to. We are working to make life better for our families and our communities. That is the character of Georgia. I intend to do my part to keep it that way. For that reason, I will veto HB 757.” He added that he would not sign any bill that “allows discrimination in our state in order to protect people of faith.”

The bill isn’t particularly well-drawn. It allows what it calls “faith-based organizations” to deny services to people who violate “sincerely held religious beliefs” or to fire people who act against those beliefs. The bill also forced the government to show a “compelling governmental interest” before cracking down on exercise of religion.

My problem is that the First Amendment already covers this stuff.

In America, you shouldn’t need a bill to tell you that you are allowed to hire and fire whomever you want; that right shouldn’t even be contingent on a sincerely held religious belief. Atheists should have the same rights as religious people. I don’t have to agree with how a business owner operates her business to believe that she has the right to operate her business how she chooses. The essence of freedom is tolerance for activities you find personally distasteful, but that do not implicate a violation of a duty. And no one has a duty to hire or fire others based on your say-so, because nobody has a right to anybody else’s labor. The counter-suggestion, that businesses owe a duty to hire someone in spite of X – and here, X can be anything ranging from race to sexual orientation to religion to skill set – is a basic violation of liberty. It is the same as the leftist suggestion that doctors owe a duty to treat patients without compensation, or that businesses have a duty to sell goods at a given price. I have no right to be hired by you for any reason, and you have no duty to employ me. You may not like how people exercise their liberty. But that doesn’t give you the right to cram down upon them a duty they don’t have.

Here’s the beauty of this perspective: it takes power out of the hands of a government that would be empowered to define and create new duties out of wholecloth, and hands it to the market. Think the grocery across the street is racist in its hiring? I’ll join you in your boycott. Don’t like the hiring practices at your local religious bakery? Simple! Go across the street, and try to drive them out of business. If Disney or anybody else feels that Georgia is simply too terrible a place (even though Hollywood companies like Disney routinely discriminate against religious conservatives), they can make Georgia companies feel it in the pocketbook. And religious people are free to do the same in retaliation.

Instead, the government wants to take power away from individuals and hand it to the same people who just decided that thousands of years of traditional marriage mean nothing. This will not end well, just as it didn’t end well when the government decided to determine who businesses should hire and fire based on race during the Jim Crow era. A government with the power to end discrimination is a government with the power to discriminate. The same goverment that repealed Jim Crow implemented it in the first place.

This has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with freedom. But religion is where the rubber will meet the road. Religious people aren’t going to operate businesses if they are forced to violate their religion to do so. They will engage in civil disobedience, and if the government persists, in more than that; religious people don’t give up their religion just because Justice Kennedy thinks they ought to do so. So, we can either make a basic deal in favor of the freedom guaranteed by the Constitution, or we can prepare for serious conflict. The way the left is pushing, the latter seems more and more inevitable.

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