This week in Michigan a horrible precedent may be set. An anti-bullying law (SB 137) has been effectively neutered by Republicans and Conservative Christians that deviously inserted a clause at the last minute which states “This section does not prohibit a statement of a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction of a school employee, school volunteer, pupil, or a pupil and parent or guardian.” This has passed the Michigan Senate, but still needs to get passed the House. Hopefully it dies there. Don't count it though.
What does this mean? Effectively, religious individuals and groups can continue with their irrational hatred, fear and demonization of people based on their religion. Put another way, religious persecution of individuals is protected by a state government within the United States of America. This has applications outside of their wish to persecute the LGBT community. They can persecute other religions, the non-religious…whatever they feel like as long as it is a demonstrably held religious belief. This is completely unconscionable, not to mention likely unconstitutional. I do not see how the First and Fourteenth Amendments allow this law to exist so hopefully it won’t pass the next stage.
For a full dose of the crazy we can once again turn to hate-filled, Christian lunatic Linda Harvey:
“As we’ve found out time and again, so-called conservative, pro-life politicians are sometimes wrongly persuaded that homosexuality is a worthy lifestyle and cause. This amounts to promotion of these lifestyle’s to kids brought into schools in the Trojan Horse of anti-bullying programs. We already have these programs in many schools, but federal involvement adds a troubling new dimension. If these amendments pass, they do nothing to protect kids that isn’t already available at the local level. The only thing they will do is threaten local school districts with a cutoff of federal funds if the schools aren’t turned into indoctrination camps where conservative viewpoints are systematically silenced all to fulfill the fondest wishes of those who want traditional morality to disappear.
Special rights for homosexual behavior are not needed. This makes me very sad for every child in our schools who will be subjected to this deception. There is a very well-traveled path out of homosexuality that every child deserves to hear about. But no, this will become like California in every state, a bigoted mandate to force everyone to accept and approve of homosexuality. Please call our Ohio senators, Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown, tell them in that in the upcoming, big education bill, we don’t want the federal government using bullying prevention as a tool to force approval of homosexuality and gender bending on children, teachers and families.”
This is, of course, a double standard. As Amy Sullivan writes for Time “It’s also a highly selective conception of religious liberty. The same religious conservatives who applaud the religious exemption in Michigan’s anti-bullying bill would be appalled if it protected a Muslim student in Dearborn who defended bullying a Christian classmate by saying he considered her an infidel.” To say that this an awful piece of legislation is an understatement. By allowing this law to exist as it does, Americans are affording a religious group the ability to discriminate against people based on their religious beliefs. This is state-protected religious discrimination, plain and simple and it cannot be allowed to continue.
I will also quickly note, as we have before here at LH, that the ONLY reason to discriminate against LGBT people is religion. Remove a few lines in the Bible (Romans 1, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10) and it all goes away. Of course, removing a few lines in the Bible is unnecessary. Most Christians ignore other parts that book when it suits them anyway (Exodus 35:2, Leviticus 11:9-12, Leviticus 20:9, Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 20:10-17, Deuteronomy 22:20-21, among many, many others).