Standing for Justice

The West Virginia House of Representatives has passed a “Religious Freedom” bill. You can read an article about this on the Think Progress website.

The bill still has to clear the senate and the governor, but one of our local UU ministers has already written a letter to the editor addressing the issue. Rev. Rose Edington, Minister Emerita of the UU Congregation of Charleston wrote the letter below. You can also read it on the Charleston Gazette-Mail Website.

Religious Freedom act restores discrimination

Rev. Rose Edington and partner, Rev. Mel Hoover

Editor:

I have been an ordained minister since 1975. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act has nothing to do with religious freedom and everything to do with discrimination.

In our democracy, religious freedom is the freedom to worship (or not) according to your choice and your conscience. This means that the state cannot dictate how to conduct any denomination’s or religion’s worship service, nor what may be said during worship services, nor how you choose to worship, whether it be in a grand cathedral, your humble home or any place of worship in between.

No “restoration” to freely worship is needed because nothing has been taken away. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has not changed.

For those who need to discriminate to practice their religion, they may freely do that within their places of worship. Businesses, which are open to the public, are not free to discriminate. Business owners could choose to practice their religion based on their answer to the question: “Who is my neighbor?” as found in the story of The Good Samaritan, and the teaching from Hebrews 13:2 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for some have thereby entertained angels unaware.”

Personally, as a member of a multiracial family, I am all too aware that the statements being made today by people who use religion to discriminate against others because of their sexual orientation are the same kind of statements used by people to discriminate against others based on the color, or perceived color, of their skin a generation ago. It was wrong then. It is wrong now.

The Rev. Dr. Rose Edington (Unitarian Universalist)
Charleston

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