The religion of exclusion
The broadly written Religious Freedom Restoration Act would allow, for example, an [emergency medical technician] to refuse emergency treatment to a gay person or a pharmacist to refuse to refill HIV medication, because God decreed gays and lesbians should be put to death.....the act is so broad it would let a Catholic high school refuse to hire a Muslim janitor, and a DMV clerk deny a new driver’s license to someone who is divorced.
As I've said before, the most striking thing about laws like this is that the Christian Right's core value, the essence of religious freedom in their view, the hill they've chosen to die on, is the right to exclude -- to refuse service to certain categories of people, to reject them, to stigmatize them, to cast them out. This is how fundamentalist Christianity, the noisiest and most visible form of Christianity in the United States, is choosing to define and present itself. This is the face they themselves are putting on their own religion. It's not atheists like me defining Christianity as a religion whose core is bigotry. It's Christians who are doing that.
Imagine if, instead, the Christian Right had taken up the case of Arnold Abbott, the 90-year-old man arrested in Florida last month for the crime of giving food to homeless people. Imagine if they were busily and noisily passing "religious freedom acts" all over the country defending the right of people to help the poor if their conscience compels it. What a different image that would project! But they aren't doing that (in fact, a judge, not religious politicians, later stayed the law under which Abbott was arrested). Instead, they're fighting like hell for the right of Christians to refuse to help people.
Is it any wonder that Americans in growing numbers are turning away from religion, especially younger people, when this is the face religion shows them?
Notice that it's not just discrimination against gays that's being defended -- it's discrimination against anyone who fails to conform to the entire Christian taboo system. Even if you're not gay, are you divorced, or non-Christian, or using birth control, or having a relationship with someone without being married, or a member of a Christian sect which some other Christian sect strongly disapproves of? If so (or if you're any of a dozen other things), the Christian Right thinks passing laws defending someone else's right to have nothing to do with you is the most important religious-freedom issue in the country right now.
Fundamentalists are already a shrinking minority in the US. It's only their great influence within the Republican party that gives them as much power as they have. The day will come when the tables turn against them. On that day, remember these laws.