Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Common Ground and Shared Freedom

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the necessity of finding common ground in order to share the freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. As each group in our society seeks special protection, there becomes less freedom for other groups.

            The US Supreme Court recently ruled 7-2 in favor of Jack Philips and that the State of Colorado did not respect Philips’ right to exercise his religion. Colorado had allowed other bakeries to refuse service to causes that they could not support, but they did not give Philips the same freedom to object. The Court says that governments must treat religious beliefs with tolerance and respect as well as without religious hostility.

            The case of the Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. V. Colorado Civil Rights Commission was about whether a baker could be forced to use his talents to make a cake to celebrate same-sex marriage when it is against his beliefs. The ruling did not address the “question of whether religious objectors to same-sex marriage should be exempted from LGBT nondiscrimination laws and allowed to refuse service to gay or lesbian customers.” 

            The above ruling is considered to be “narrow” because it did not address the broader issue. However, it is bringing other results. One such result is an editorial written about an investigative report by Kelsey Dallas, faith writer for Deseret News. Released last week, the report “identifies and analyzes 139 state bills across the country pertaining to the place of faith in the public square.”

            The editorial claims that the number of state bills is not as important as the fact “states are engaging in the arduous process of carving out spaces for multiple groups to live according to their conscience.”

As Wednesday’s report indicates, protecting the liberty of all citizens extends far beyond the LGBT community and the religious community. And the two are not mutually exclusive. Only eight of the 139 bills identified deal with service refusals similar to the Masterpiece Cakeshop situation. And 37 bills focus on protecting LGBT rights. The remaining 94 bills cover topics ranging from faith’s role in public speech to adoption services and the intersection of religion and health care.
The sad truth, however, is partisanship has taken its toll on the idea of shared freedom, with mostly Republicans signing on to legislation protecting religious belief while mainly Democrats have championed protections for LGBT rights.

            It seems that everything in our nation is politicized and pits one segments of our society against another. No one appreciates being called a racist, bigot, fanatic, or a snowflake. We are all human beings and children of the same Father in Heaven. We should be showing forth love and civility to each other. If we cannot get to “love” yet, we should at least treat each other with respect and tolerance.

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