As usual, I had at least two different topics I was trying to choose between to write about today, but sometimes something else pops up on my radar and I am compelled to comment on it or else lose the momentum of the story entirely.
When I wrote recently that we all needed to fight for religious freedom, I think that some thought that I, an atheist, must be joking. I wasn’t and a case currently before the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals becomes exactly what I was referring to in that post.
A couple, Christian, that produces videos for weddings, the State of Minnesota has declared, must also produce the same for same sex couples. Of course, they’re fighting this as a violation of their religious freedom, which is actually correct, but it goes far beyond that in my opinion.
No one should be compelled to appear to advocate for anything that goes against their basic beliefs, no matter what those beliefs are. Read the entire story linked above and then think about the ramifications of the court upholding the idea that the state may actually compel speech from those where that speech may not only violate their freedom to exercise their religion as guaranteed in the Constitution, but to violate their conscience as well.
No matter what each of us may think about these plaintiffs in this case, the bottom line question is, can the state compel speech from people whose religious beliefs or conscience would otherwise forbid them? If anyone out there is saying yes to this, then consider all the consequences.
Currently, polling suggests that as many as 40% of millennials disagree with our right to free speech. That has to be a concern for everyone. If it’s not, it should be. This is the next generation of legislators, judges, and justices that would forever change what we view today as a basic freedom.
If this case makes it all the way to the Supreme Court, that that court affirms that indeed the state may compel speech, the 1st Amendment is gone. I’m not saying this is a slippery slope – what I’m saying is that we would be in free fall – without a parachute.
This really is a case about speech. If I can’t criticize religious views here, or others cannot promote theirs, we’ve collectively lost the right to free speech, guaranteed, or at least we have always thought so, in our Constitution.
And it wont stop there. When I say that the 1st Amendment could become null and void, it’s all speech. Yes, even the press. Do we really want the government, at any level, telling us what we may or may not discuss? If I took a poll right now (non-scientific), I think the majority would say no.
If the government may tell believers of any faith what they may or may not say or do, then they can also tell everyone else the same.
I don;t want that in my future. We need to fight for religious freedom because there’s a possible outcome that would not only affect believers, but all of us.