In the name of tolerance and equality, the First Amendment freedoms of all institutions ought to be respected after the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision. Everyone, regardless of their faith, should be allowed to believe that marriage is the union between one man and one woman. A new proposed bill, the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) seeks to do just that.
This bill though, needs a broad focus. Some scholars argue that limiting FADA’s scope to simply religious nonprofits will be the only way to ensure its passage. This is a weak and partisan approach to defending truth. FADA must protect not only religious nonprofits, but also secular nonprofits, and secular businesses. Ryan T. Anderson and Robert P. George makes a case for this approach, using the pro-life movement as an example:
It [The Pro-Life Movement] protected pro-life conscience across the board, not just for non-profits, because opening a business (even as an ob/gyn doctor) shouldn’t require leaving your principles behind.
Thanks to its efforts, people of deep religious or secular conviction concerning the moral worth of unborn children can serve as doctors, nurses and medical workers without being forced to perform abortions.
Likewise, we should ensure protections for marriage counselors, psychologists and other professionals with deep convictions about marriage, and FADA does just that.
. . .
FADA, like other civil rights laws, makes it clear where there is never a compelling reason to discriminate against people or groups for living out the conviction that marriage is the union of husband and wife.
Furthermore, it is absolutely necessary that FADA passes in this form, for freedom of religion is a basic human right. Anderson explains:
[I]t is critical to bear in mind that religious freedom is a basic human right.
We can and should point to the many good works that religious non-profits perform, but in truth, this is a secondary (albeit important!) reason for protecting the conscience rights of the individuals and institutions that run them.
. . .
[R]eligious freedom is not just for groups we “admire” and not just for groups that help “the poor and oppressed.”
Yes, religious liberty often produces good fruits, but we should defend it not on that basis alone. First and foremost, we need to defend it as a natural right. There is no “right” to marriage. But there is a right to defend marriage as your personal and religious convictions define it. No one, not even the government, has the right to force someone to act against their religious beliefs.
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