Democrats need to play hardball on religious intolerance

20 Jan 2014 01:28 pm
Posted by: Donna

SB1062, which would allow individuals and businesses to discriminate as long as it’s for “religious” reasons passed its first Senate committee, Government and Environment, on a party line 4-2 vote last Thursday. Clearly, this is an attempt to get around recent anti-discrimination ordinances passed in Phoenix and other municipalities and the Obamacare contraception mandate in insurance plans. I am once again amazed at how people who claim to fear Sharia Law in the United States keep opening the door to it but, obviously, the Republicans who support this bill only intend for it to be used by Christian conservatives like themselves.

Right wing theocrats are people who have a huge sense of entitlement and expectation that they will be coddled, along with a quick willingness to scream how they’re being persecuted and denied their freedom if everyone doesn’t comply with their wishes. To be honest, their expectations aren’t completely groundless, since they often do get concessions made to them. For example, the Obama administration granted churches and religious organizations an exemption to the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act right off the bat. This is something they would never have done for, say, Jehovah’s Witness employers who didn’t want to cover blood transfusions. But the anti-contraception religious interests had to be accommodated because, for some reason, their desire to punish women for non-procreative sex is deemed legitimate. Rather than being satisfied with that preemptive compromise, conservatives merely pushed for more exemptions (Hobby Lobby, et al.)

Similarly, the desire of religious conservatives to deny LGBT people rights has been given far more latitude than it should be. But conservative activists are very aware that the American public is growing increasingly accepting of divergent orientations and experiences, so they are engaged in a last-gasp effort to take advantage of lingering ambivalence about those subjects to ram through laws that give private entities control over people’s lives. If successful, they could then use “religious freedom” to roll back decades of hard-fought civil rights.

Observers say the Senate bill, or an identical one introduced in the House, has a good chance of becoming law and I expect it will get a full vote from the Republican caucus, at least some of whom face tough primaries. One of the co-sponsors of the bill is none other than Bob Worsley, that nice “moderate” from Mesa who defeated Russell Pearce last year and who (naturally) faces a primary challenge. Republicans will definitely embrace this but Democrats should be equally vigorous in opposition, and campaign on it! Dems have been reluctant to take on the religious control freaks directly, probably out of fear of seeming insensitive to religion, but there’s no need, since the public is on our side on this. Americans tend to be religious, but not desirous of other people’s beliefs being pushed on them, especially those of noxious busybodies like Cathi Herrod.


  1. Comment by WS on January 22, 2014 4:20 pm

    Arizona’s most corrupt state senator, Steve Yarbrough (R-Chandler), who uses his position to write charter school bills to steer state funding to his Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization to benefit himself financially. It’s like writing checks to yourself.

    Unbelievably, this allegedly does not violate Arizona’s ethics rules for legislators!

    Yarborough benefits from tax credits he helped design. He is the executive director of the state’s second-largest tuition tax-credit organization, Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization, or ACSTO.

    An examination of the most recent tax return for ACSTO shows Yarbrough receives a salary of $96,000 per year. ACSTO also paid for his car. It paid $426,000 to a company called HY processing, which Yarbrough serves as part owner. The organization also paid $127,000 in leasehold improvements and $50,000 rent to the landlord. Yarbrough owns the building.

  2. Comment by Erica Keppler on January 26, 2014 10:22 am

    These bills are unconstitutional under Article 20, Section 1 of the Arizona State Constitution, which states, “Perfect toleration of religious sentiment shall be secured to every inhabitant of this state, and no inhabitant of this state shall ever be molested in person or property on account of his or her mode of religious worship, or lack of the same.”

    The operative phrase here is, “shall be secured”. The word “shall” creates a mandate on government to act. It is unconstitutional to pass a law forbidding government from acting in incidents of religious intolerance. The first definition of “molest” in Webster’s Dictionary reads, “To bother or annoy.” For one person to experience another person imposing the second party’s religious opinions on the first, the person so imposed has been molested. This section of our State Constitution requires government to intercede to defend citizens from the religious impositions of other citizens.

    “Lack of the same,” implies a governmental responsibility to actively defend freedom from religion. The only times where a government would need to intercede to defend a citizen from molestation due to a lack of religious worship will be when the molester is doing so out of religious motivation.

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