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Religious discrimination in America

Glenn Mollette | 3/7/2014, 6 a.m.

Arizona legislators pulled a dandy. They asked their governor to sign a bill allowing any business the freedom to discriminate based on religious beliefs. The governor vetoed the bill.

The First Amendment guaranteeing our nation the freedom of religion is not a legal loophole that allows religious people to hurt other people based on prejudice or interpretation of the Bible or any other religious book.

A lot of noise has been made recently about the Middlesboro, Kentucky pastor and church that handled poisonous snakes. National Geographic reality star of "Snake Salvation," Jamie Coots was bitten by a timber rattler almost two weeks ago and died within 90 minutes. He and his family refused medical treatment based on their interpretation of the Bible. I personally think they are crazy.

Simply because someone interprets the Bible, Koran or any other religious book a certain way does not give that person the right to hurt other people. Nor should anyone discriminate against another person because of race, nationality, money or gender preferences.

I do not understand why anyone would want to be gay. There is not a gay molecule in my frame. Because someone is gay does not give me or anyone else the right to not provide service in a restaurant or a seat on the bus. Nor should one's sexual preference prohibit him or her from working the same job anyone else does.

I do understand that the majority of religious people in America believe that a gay lifestyle is a wrong lifestyle and is forbidden by the Bible. Please keep in mind that most church people believe it is wrong for a man and woman to live together without being legally married. Most church people believe stealing, killing and lying are wrong as well.

A church or religious entity traditionally has not hired ministers that were practicing thieves, murderers or liars or living with someone not in a legal marriage relationship. Is this discrimination? I don't think so. The average employer in America is only using commonsense if they decide to terminate someone because that person is a thief or liar or maybe causing disruption in the office by sleeping around with all the staff.

Religious entities that interpret the Bible as saying that a gay lifestyle is an unacceptable lifestyle should never be forced to hire someone that is gay. There are a few churches that are hiring gay persons because they believe it is acceptable. This is America where we have freedom of religion. Keep in mind there are also thousands of churches that still would never hire a woman to serve as a minister. There are also many that would never dream of hiring a divorced minister because they believe divorce is biblically unacceptable.

Arizona badly blundered on the concept of trying to create a law that allows discrimination in any business realm based on religious belief. Could this apply to someone divorced? Could they apply this rule to someone that is a habitual liar? What about church deacons who curse, smoke, chew and date girls who do? Would this rule apply to fat Christians? Whoops! Sorry I forgot that gluttony is the Christian sin of choice.

Many of the very best people I know, I met in church. However, religious people can be some of the meanest people in the world. A religious crowd was involved in nailing Jesus to the cross. Religious people are at the root of the problems in the Middle East.

If someone refuses to do business with another person it should not be based on prejudices and perceptions. Anyone abiding by the law and living in a respectful manner who is not disruptive or harmful to society deserves the same services as anyone else.

Finally, I doubt if an African American church will ever offer me a job as their senior pastor, although I would really like that.

Glenn Mollette is the author of American Issues and nine other books. He is a graduate of Georgetown College, Southern Seminary and Lexington Seminary in Kentucky. To contact Glenn Mollette, email: GMollette@aol.com.