Letter to the Editor: When the right to freedom of religion stops


We now have the astonishing situation where a public official refuses to perform her official duties because her religious beliefs disagree with the law. Perhaps even more astonishing, she has the public support of two Republican candidates for president, the Rev. Mike Huckabee and Sen. Ted Cruz.

We all know that a Kentucky court clerk, who is responsible for issuing marriage licenses, refuses to issue one to a same-sex couple. While the Supreme Court has legalized such marriages, the clerk refuses to perform her official duties because her faith opposes such marriages.

Imagine the result if the clerk’s example were allowed to stand. A devoted atheist arguably could refuse a marriage license because the applicant couple would be married in a church. As Jefferson put it, freedom of religion includes the right to have none. And consider a like result should the officials be Muslim, Buddhist, Wiccan, Catholic, Mormon, Scientologist, Rastafarian, or what have you, who decide to impose their religious beliefs on those they are obliged to serve. Should the clerk’s position be upheld, Christians must recognize that they do not have a monopoly on these so-called rights.

The Supreme Court also has held that views similar to the Kentucky clerk’s apply to businesses. The law holds that those who provide health insurance to employees must cover contraceptives. Hobby Lobby, a corporation, refused to do so, asserting that its religious beliefs oppose it. The court held:

1. For these purposes, the corporation is a person, a Catholic person at that, and
2. The corporation was free to impose its religious beliefs on its employees, the law notwithstanding.

Perhaps it is not so astonishing that the Kentucky clerk acted as she did!

It is clear, under the Constitution, that one has a right to practice his or her religion. However, that right stops when it is asserted to include imposing one’s religion on others, particularly when doing so makes a mockery of the law.

Bob Lowerre, Woodstock