30 December 2014

Michigan States Promotes Bill on Religious Freedom

Religious Freedom
Advocates of rights to choose in Michigan state are spearheading a movement that will be probably followed by majority of the Americans in other states.

The state legislature has just passed a bill that would actually enable religious establishments to freely follow their beliefs without fear of sanction from the government. House Bill No. 5958 would establish the"Michigan religious freedom restoration act" (RFRA), which would limit the government’s ability to burden the practice of religion.

House Speaker Jase Bolger (R) (pictured above) introduced the "religious freedom" bill specifically as a "necessary companion" to counter the bold move of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) to compel everyone to serve their unreligious wants. He explicitly believes that a baker, for example, should not be forced to make a cake for a same-sex wedding if it would violate his or her religious beliefs.

The text of the RFRA bill dictates that the "government shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion" unless it is "in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest."

Though RFRA-type bills were originally instituted to protect religious individuals and their religious communities, such as Native American tribes that might use peyote in certain ceremonies, these new state level bills are actually designed to protect corporations like the bakeries Bolger mentioned. Michigan state law defines the word “person” as not only individuals, but “bodies politic and corporate,” meaning that RFRA would hypothetically protect a business-owner that felt burdened by non-discrimination protections.

Passage of RFRA would not only circumvent the public accommodation protections established by either the LGBT or LGB-only bill, but would also supersede LGBT non-discrimination protections that exist in 36 cities across Michigan — most of which include gender identity protections themselves.

RFRA passed the Judiciary Committee by a 7-4 party-line vote. Rather than serving as a companion, Bolger’s Republican-controlled House could advance RFRA by itself, enabling more rights to religious corporation and individuals and protect those that are being harassed by LGBT groups.