A person, a member of the Church of Scientology, owns a business in the State of Arizona. Given the powers granted through reaching , oh, let’s say level VI, maybe VII, of Operating Thetan, this business owner can spot a Suppressive Person a mile away. Knowing just how terrible this SP can be and what damage he or she can do to one’s business, the OT denies him service at his store or restaurant. Sound a little absurd? Well it is, or, at least it should, but it stands the chance of becoming a reality if the legislators in the State of Arizona have their way.
Let’s be serious here. What this is about is an attempt to discriminate against the gay community. Conservative religious groups, operating under the assumption that their religious beliefs have come under attack, are trying to legislate bigotry. The bill’s biggest proponent is the Center for Arizona Policy, a group best known for its opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. Smart cookies that they are, they realize that the gay and lesbian population is not considered a protected class under the Civil Rights Acts, which covers people of race, religion, national origin and gender. So what do they do? They go after the one group of Americans that are still vulnerable to such outlandish laws as this one.
As ridiculous as my Thetan versus Suppressive Person example may sound, it really isn’t outside the realm of possibility. The bill in question, SB 1062, expands what already exists in Arizona’s Religious Freedom Amendment, which states, in part: government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability. All well and good, except when you realize that just about anybody can make the claim of being burdened – proving that it’s based on one’s religious beliefs is, and should be, an even tougher burden.
Where does it stop and, even more puzzling, how does one even go about this form of discrimination? Is the State of Arizona going to require identification cards, declaring one’s sexual orientation? Maybe these zealots are so in tune with their beliefs, and their God, for that matter, that they can detect those who burden them, just by looking at them. Maybe these God-fearing business owners should post a sign in the window – “No Queers Allowed” – so that there isn’t any doubt about who can come in and who can’t. Of course, an obviously pregnant woman without a wedding ring should be reason enough to slam the door in her face. Just look at her, she’s a sinner, for sure. It gets stupider and stupider, until all reason and rationale goes right out the window.
The bill passed the with a vote of 33-27 and Governor Jan Brewer has said that she won’t review it until Monday, at the earliest. She vetoed a similar bill just last year, but her most recent comments about this new piece of legislation have me a little concerned. Apparently, despite outrage from the business community, she holds to the theory that any business owner should be able to deny anyone anything, and that religious beliefs are reason enough to do so. I hope that her own beliefs, especially the one that tells her that everyone’s God is loving, will trump the machinations of another special interest group, hell-bent on stomping on the rights of other Americans. To do otherwise is to declare that Arizona is ready to turn the clock back to a time when it was perfectly alright to deny people a seat on a bus or at a counter or to cast a ballot. I hope she does the right thing here because I’m sick and tired of hearing from people who forgot what this Country is supposed to be about. Their rights and their beliefs are no bigger or better than any of ours are.