Dear next president,
The freedom of religion is one of America’s founding cornerstones. The country has fervently defended this right throughout the generations, but in the modern era of the media, the weight of its name is diminishing. One specific issue that should be addressed concerns the the right of business owners to express their freedom of religion. It is my position that businesses that deal with creative expression (bakeries, wedding planners, art-by-request, etc) should be allowed to withhold services to individuals based on the grounds that the owner’s religious beliefs are in conflict with the customer's sexual-orientation.
I must address that “in this day and age,” as many of my peers might phrase it, I hold a minority and often seemingly ridiculous opinion. I take note that I do not believe that actively discriminating against all non-straight individuals is an at all desirable approach, and I hope that this letter does not reflect that stance. This letter is written not as an attack against sexual minorities, but in support of the rights of business owners to express their religious beliefs.
I made an important distinction earlier that this kind of change should only apply to “businesses that deal with creative expression.” This is sparked by recent cases involving bakeries and wedding planning services that involve the subject of sexuality in a different way than, say, a restaurant or supermarket. (npr.org) Giving a customer their change and moving on with your day is one thing, but these individuals were forced by law to actively work in creating goods that involve the celebration of something they believe to be morally wrong. As Rev. Sandra Nikkel put it in an interview, “Taking away this law that gives me religious freedom is like forcing me to agree, accept, and embrace their lifestyles and their values.” (mlive.com) The business owners were simply expressing their religious right of exercise. A couple that was denied service by a bakery in Colorado said in an interview, "Being denied service by Masterpiece Cake-shop was offensive and dehumanizing especially in the midst of arranging what should be a joyful family celebration,” said Mullins. “No one should fear being turned away from a public business because of who they are." (aclu-co.org) While this seems like a great argument, its also an extremely similar argument that could be used by the business owner. They could say something along the lines of, "Being forced to provide service for this couple was sacrilegious and dehumanizing. Nobody should be forced to sacrifice their religion in order to serve the people in moral question." In the end, I understand that either side will feel cheated by the gavel, but while the customer in question can simply seek service elsewhere, the owner will be forced to either hide their religion under a rug or face extreme penalties. The businesses were not government entities, they were not non-profit entities, they were not anything unusual that would make them especially susceptible to this sort of thing. They only happened to choose the wrong state to settle down in. (blogs.findlaw.com)
A survey conducted by the “Pew Research Center” (pewresearch.org) in 2014 found that 47% of Americans agree with the above, while 49% disagree, placing the remaining 4% as not knowing one way or the other. This obviously a split issue, despite what the common media might present. The current pool of state laws also reflects this dissonance. I think a final, federal stance should be made as these cases involve the freedoms that America was built on. I believe that my proposed solution is an appropriate compromise that preserves constitutional rights without starting any riots. Should businesses owners would go as so far to choose to forgo profit and positive public opinion in the act of freely exercising their religion, then I say let them.