Dennis Prager has a column at the Worldnetdaily about the recent court decision in Colorado that businesses cannot discriminate against gay people and he offers a staggeringly disingenuous answer to the question I’ve been asking: If it’s okay for a business to discriminate against gay people on religious grounds, why isn’t it okay for them to discriminate against black people in religious grounds?
Those who support this decision argue that religious principles do not apply here: What if, for example, someone’s religious principles prohibited interracial marriages? Should that individual be allowed to deny services to an interracial wedding?
Of course not.
Here’s why that objection is irrelevant:
1. No religion practiced in America – indeed, no world religion – has ever banned interracial marriage. That some American Christians opposed interracial marriage is of no consequence. No one assumes that every position held by any member of a religion means that the religion holds that position.
*headdesk* Interracial marriage was banned in every state in this country at one point and always on religious grounds. Whether Prager thinks those religious grounds were legitimate or not or whether the Bible really supported that position is irrelevant; it was the overwhelming view of Christians in this country for at least a century and a half that interracial marriage was forbidden and that the law should enforce that religious view. Christian ideology has shifted, as it often does, but that does not make the reality of those past positions magically disappear.
If opposition to same-sex marriage is not a legitimately held religious conviction, there is no such thing as a legitimately held religious position. Unlike opposition to interracial marriage, opposition to same-sex marriage has been the position of every religion in recorded history – as well as of every country and every American state until the 21st century.
Who, exactly, gets to decide what is and is not a “legitimately held religious conviction”? The government cannot make such a determination without violating the Free Exercise clause. Is he really going to claim that the millions of Christians who believed that God forbid interracial marriage from the founding of this country until the mid-20th century, when that belief finally began to wane, did not have “legitimately held religious convictions”? By what possible standard other than his disagreement with them? This is sophistry.
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