The proposed bill reassures every individual or groups on their freedom to exercise and abide by their beliefs.
After the passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into law, another bill is recently proposed which according to several critics may result to religious bigotry. The First Amendment Defense Act H.R. 2802 (FADA) authored by Idaho Representative Raul Labrador aims to solidify the First Amendment especially in the aspect of religion.
The proposed bill reassures every individual or groups on their freedom to exercise and abide by their beliefs. Additionally, it prevents the government from making “discriminatory actions” against these individuals, groups, or religions, even when such exercising of freedom affects some of the legal rights of others especially the LGBT community. To date, the bill has now a strong 124 supporters or sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The bill is very controversial because according to many, it is discriminatory in nature and would only make the Orwellian or authoritarian view of society and governance a reality. Contrary to its purpose of “defending” the first amendment, the results will just prove to be a contradiction.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation cited three points as to why the FADA would privilege religious bigotry and why it’s a masterpiece of “doublethink”.
First, it will negatively impact members of the LGBT people. For instance; when an individual or businesses owner discriminates a member of the third sex whether intentionally or not on the basis of his religion or belief, the government is prohibited from making “any discriminatory action” (sanction or legal inquiry) against the individual or business offender. In most right wing religious groups and churches, being a gay or member of the third sex is considered a sin. This essentially lets individuals and businesses to discriminate gay individuals.
— Anon_Pagan (@idrobinhood) July 17, 2015
The second is on the issue of same sex marriage. The bill can be used as a legal basis of individuals and businesses that commit discrimination or refuse to serve same sex couples. Perhaps, one of the most prominent and relevant case recently is the refusal of Arlene’s Flowers to sell their products to a gay couple on their wedding because of the owner’s religious belief.
Finally, the Foundation argues that the First Amendment needs no defending. Instead, it’s the lawmakers that are trying to remove the Constitution’s guarantees. Additionally, the First Amendment is not intended to codify religious favoritism through the passage of bills like the RFRA and FADA.
In conclusion, the FADA is likely to privilege religious bigotry. Instead of promoting religious awareness and respect, a lot are worried that it will just result to someone insisting his/her beliefs to others. And worst, when the government fails to intervene with the extreme and dangerous beliefs like the biblical verse that warrants the extermination of gay people.