I suppose I should be delighted that Kansas Republicans are so concerned about protecting workers' rights.
For a lot of Republicans, the idea workers should have any rights at all is ridiculous. Heck, a Christian Coalition pamphlet a couple of decades back said employees should treat their employers the way the Bible commands slaves to obey their masters. Yet in Kansas the Republican-dominated House has decided that not even the power of employers is more important than the right of employees to ostracize gays.
that passed the Kansas House (it died in the Senate) would have given business owners the right to turn away customers if serving them violated the owners "sincerely held religious beliefs" about gay marriage. If a business doesn't discriminate, its employees ' including government employees ' can discriminate based on their own sincere belief. The employer should try to find another employee but only "if it can be done without undue hardship to the employer."
Gov. Sam Brownback claims he supports the bill because he believes in treating people with "respect and dignity." The bill's text describes it as an act supporting "religious freedom." But like abortion-related conscience clauses
, its view of freedom seems suspiciously one-sided. Ditto its view of respect and dignity.
For example, suppose I'm an employee in Wichita. My Christian boss thinks gays are the scum of the Earth and God will smite his store if he accepts their tainted money. My Christian faith says making an outcast or pariah of anyone is wrong, so I should treat gays like anyone else. Yet somehow my sincerely held religious beliefs aren't protected anywhere in the bill.
And what if my sincerely held religious beliefs make me object to customers who aren't homosexuals. The Bible condemns usury in multiple places, for instance. If I believe usury is sinful and usurers deserve ostracism as much as gays, why can't I refuse to serve a customer who's in the payday-loan industry? Or the CEO of a bank that charges a 20 percent interest rate on its credit cards?
Jesus also has a lot to say about how we should clothe the naked and feed the hungry. If my sincerely held religious belief is that selfish rich people are therefore sinful and vile, why can't I turn them away without getting fired? What if I'm a pacifist and I despise defense contractors who refuse to beat swords into plowshares? If religious freedom is really the issue, why give only one category of "sincerely held religious belief" ' opposition to homosexuality ' a get-out-of-being-fired-free card?
Over the years, I've heard religious conservatives argue that gays deserve special contempt because they're openly living in sin, flaunting their right to defy God. But even if we use that standard (I certainly don't), that wouldn't make gays unique. Stockbrokers who defraud clients, bankers who cheat
customers or investors, CIA agents who abuse or kill prisoners ' they're all committing some serious sins too. So why is it the only sinners the Kansas bill wants to target are gays?
Call me crazy, but I don't think a love of freedom is what really inspires Brownback and the Kansas House of Representatives.