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What is religious freedom, and when does it become discrimination?

Finlay Kuester, Staff Writer

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Trump signs the executive order in the White House Rose Garden.

Recently, Trump signed another executive order that reportedly would fulfill his promise to expand “religious freedom” and, among other things, allow business owners to refuse service to LGBT individuals and participate in the political process on the grounds of their religious beliefs. In advance of the order, the American Civil Liberties Union announced their intention to file a lawsuit against the order to protect the liberties of LGBT citizens. However, upon careful review of the text of the order, the ACLU has since announced they will not be pursuing a lawsuit.

 

Why the change? According to Executive Director Anthony D. Romero, the order doesn’t even actually allow religious business owners any new power in the political process. It seems as though the order was signed by Trump in order to appear to keep good on his promises to his supporters without actually risking any political conflict. In an administration that has proven trigger-happy with attacking the media, the ACLU has announced that the order “has proven to be a textbook case of ‘fake news.’”

 

The issue of “religious freedom” legislation has been ongoing, and it was most famously brought to light by the likes of Kim Davis declining marriage licenses to gay couples and a few cases of Christian bakeries refusing to bake wedding cakes for gay clients. The fundamental question, it seems, is where’s the line between respecting religious beliefs and respecting equal rights? If we allow businesses to turn away gay customers, is that treating religious beliefs fairly or disrespecting the gay community? Is it both, and if so, which is more important?

 

The past few years have shown a steady rise in societal acceptance of gay marriage and the LGBT community, so perhaps this issue will simply fade away as attitudes change. But until then, the debate continues; is refusing service to someone for their sexual orientation respectful or discriminatory?

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The student news site of Oakton High School
What is religious freedom, and when does it become discrimination?