This past weekend was Easter, the most important religious observance for Christians, and as one myself it got me to thinking about the current state of religious liberty in the United States and the incredible damage done to liberty by religious (predominantly evangelical Christian) and social conservatives.
“But, wait!” you cry, “Religious liberty is under attack and social conservatives are fighting to protect it!” True, as far as it goes, which is only as far as trying to grasp on to what’s left of what should have been their primary focus decades ago: protecting everyone’s liberty instead of trying to use political and police power to enforce a particular personal and religious moral code.
A recent effort of social conservatives to try and straw grasp is Georgia House Bill 757, which Georgia Governor Nathan Deal (a Republican) has announced he will veto after pressure exerted by interests like the NFL and the entertainment industry who have threatened to pull their significant investments in Georgia over legalized “discrimination”. Bills like 757 should be no brainers, and should be loved by anyone who respects individual liberty, but the problem is we’ve let them be cast in terms of hate, thanks to social conservatives’ denial of individual liberties over decades.
I think there’s an easy way to turn the arguments against religious freedom protection bills on their heads and get the people who are opposing them to support them: these aren’t religious liberty protection bills, they are actually LGBT, et al. protection bills!
You see, there is one key question that needs to be put to those who think “equality” can be achieved by forcing a baker to bake a cake, a photographer to take pictures, or whatever other example you care to concoct against their personal religious beliefs that is never asked. It’s this:
Why would you want to purchase goods or services from someone who doesn’t value you as a customer?
We live in a distributed mass media society. Distributed mass media means that dissatisfied customers can express their dissatisfaction to family, friends, and the entire world connected by the Internet at will. Anyone, anywhere can either view or post near-instantaneous feedback on goods or services they have either purchased or are planning to buy. New economy services like eBay, Uber, Lyft, and AirBnB put great weight on reviews of both providers and customers. You can find user reviews of just about everything, and use your own brain to figure out whether you want to give a particular business or vendor your money.
Take it to its logical conclusion: I read from reviews that a particular business doesn’t like doing business with <fill in whatever protected class you want>. If <aforementioned protected class> is a concern of mine, or I’m a member thereof, and the personal cost to me and my convictions is too great to do business with them anyway, I’ll then take my business elsewhere.
Why would I want to buy from someone who hates me or a concern of mine, when they’re being forced to provide goods or services for no other reason than the current political culture’s wielding of police powers? How could I have faith that I’m getting the highest quality good or service from them?
A business that identifies itself as not wanting to cater to same-sex couples for goods and services is a benefit to same-sex couples. They can then take their business to someone who embraces selling to same-sex couples, rather than unwittingly supporting someone opposed to their lifestyle.
And guess what? If enough people don’t like the fact that a particular business doesn’t cater to same-sex couples, that business won’t be in business very long. That’s how free markets are supposed to work.
Georgia’s response to Disney, et al. should have been, “This bill makes it easier for you to do business in our state because you will now be able to identify the people you don’t want to do business with because of their beliefs!”
Getting people’s prejudices out into the open allows for real or perceived wrongs to be handled economically by free market dynamics and gets the contents of people’s hearts and minds out of the purview of government, where they don’t belong in the first place.
Imagine: a simultaneous victory for both “social justice warriors” and people who want to assert their religious freedom. Gosh, that’s actually government being neutral between competing societal concerns that it shouldn’t be involved with in the first place.
Hmmmm, what’s the word for that?
Oh yeah: liberty.