Freedom of religion means that you have the right to practice whatever religion you choose (if you choose) and that the U. S. government will not impose any particular religion upon you. It does not mean that you have the right to discriminate against others you may disagree with, for religious reasons or otherwise. It does not mean that you have the right to impose your religious beliefs upon others; in fact, it specifically says that there will be no law establishing a particular religion. There is no need for any kind of “restoration of religious freedom” act in any state. Everything we need as a nation is right there in the first amendment.
Proponents of these laws will argue that forcing them to bake cakes for same-sex weddings or similar kinds of circumstances infringes upon their religious and moral beliefs and that their religious freedom needs to be protected. I call bullshit. If I come into your store and ask for a wedding cake for my gay wedding that does not impinge upon your religious freedom. You are still free to go to church on Sunday and Bible study on Wednesday and my business hasn’t harmed your free exercise of your religion in any way. Some would say that their religion considers homosexuality a sin and that baking that cake for me is in some way supporting that sinful lifestyle. I call bullshit again. I was raised in a Catholic household and I have countless Christian friends and all of them will tell you that according to their beliefs we are all sinners, that there are no human beings who are perfect and do not sin. So if you can’t serve me a cake for what you consider to be my sin then you can’t bake cookies for the adulterer or bread for the thief. You can’t make scones for the man who does not honor his father and mother or candies for the woman who takes God’s name in vain.
No matter how you spin it these acts like the one in Indiana are clearly a gateway to discrimination and nothing else. Even if that were not the intent of the authors of the bills you can bet that it will be the result and it won’t stop with discrimination against the LGBT community. I can imagine Muslims being refused service next, and then pagans, and on down the line. I can imagine store windows with signs listing what kinds of unbelievers are unwelcome. Now I don’t necessarily want to do business with a store owner that hates me that much anyway and have always done my best to put my dollars where my beliefs are. That is why I am happy to see so many companies talking about boycotting Indiana and other places that pass such legislation. Governor Pence can pretend all he wants that the bill is not about discrimination but about religious freedom, but look again at the first amendment. That provides all the protection that has ever been needed. The new law needs to be rescinded.