The Washington Post, in an editorial this week, made a jarring statement in their endorsement of the Equality Act that we need to consider.
“Some senators argue that the Equality Act lacks sufficient religious-liberty protections. But engaging in public commerce comes with a price: Business owners cannot pay their employees less than the minimum wage. A cake shop owner must follow health and safety regulations even if he does not believe they are necessary. A landlord should not be able to refuse to rent an apartment to a gay couple. The government should respect private worship, but it also has a high interest in ensuring activities occurring in the public square are fair and equitable.”
They responded to U.S. Senator Mitt Romney’s objection to the Equality Act. Romney believes that strong religious liberty protections are essential in legislation that deals with this issue.
What The Washington Post’s editorial board wrote is positively chilling but hardly surprising. In their point of view and the point of view of many on the left, faith is something that belongs in private.
“Go ahead and believe what you want just do it in private, but once you are in public then there is a price.”
Granted, they talked about commerce, but looking at the United Kingdom and Canada, it is not hard to picture this point of view expanding beyond commerce.
In fact, with the current trajectory of the left, it’s unlikely this threat won’t spread into the private realm as well because it already has.
My faith is personal, but it is not private. The freedom of religion, not the freedom of worship, is enshrined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
What I wrote in 2019 about the freedom of religion is still true today, and I’ll repeat it.
“Freedom of religion encompasses much more than private belief and corporate worship. It guarantees the exercise of our faith throughout our public and private lives: what we say, what we do, and what we will not do in keeping with the tenets of one’s particular faith.
“It means that we can share our beliefs without fear of government retribution. It says the government can’t coerce us to participate in activities that violate our conscience. It means our pulpits are free from government censorship.
“Limiting the First Amendment to the ‘freedom to worship’ would relegate our faith to our personal lives and our place of worship instead of letting it permeate throughout every aspect of our lives.”
Relegating our faith to our private lives is not religious freedom. It’s certainly not what our founders had in mind. It’s why the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was overwhelmingly passed in response to the Supreme Court’s 1990 decision in Employment Division v. Smith, which was unfortunately authored by the late Justice Antonin Scalia that eviscerated the free exercise clause.
The freedom of religion is not just about private belief but also public action. There has to be a compelling government interest before it is hindered.
The Washington Post believes government can take action on a whim without concern for religious liberty in the public realm. That is a dangerous and statist point of view.
Significantly burdening religious liberty without considering if there is a compelling government interest is not “fair and equitable.”