Congratulations you get a bonus opinion post this week. I want to make it abundantly clear that I take a fairly libertarian position that a business owner, as part of his rights of doing with his property as he pleases, should be allowed to refuse service to anyone for any reason. When my Christian friends were all up in arms about the business owner that wouldn’t let people pray in his shop or the possibility that atheists might not let Christians use their business, etc., my response seems to dumfound them. “That’s their right. It is their place”. When a recent court decision upheld a business owners decision to not serve a guy’s anti-gay slogan on a cake, I had to say it was a good decision because it protected the rights of the business owner.
Don’t get me wrong. I see the hypocrisy when gay activists still want to force owners to serve them using the force and threat of violence the government brings. However I am still placing the blame on the religious folks for the stupidity of religious freedom laws as a concept in the first place. By invoking religion as your cause in a world that sees church and state being separate, you are just setting yourself up for failure and backlash. It is not that you shouldn’t have the right to refuse service because you have a religious objections to serving someone, but you should not have chosen religion as the battlefield. Trust me the Jewish, Christian and Muslim business owners on this issue are pretty much lockstep on their opinions here. The problem is the way this was done was just not smart.
Religious freedom laws assume that you are giving privileged to people based on religion. This is not universal enough and then people who have little religion or none at all are going to have a problem with your law. Your using government force to force your religious freedom on others this is always going to bring resentment and backlash. It looked like what you wanted was religious owners could refuse service but also religious people could not be refused service by people who did not want to serve them. This is not going to work.
A better strategy would have been to simply pass a Business Owners Rights Law that simply stated that any business owner could refuse service for any reason and does not have to say why. This would have meant that atheists could refuse service to Christians but at least that would have been fair and still allowed a Christian owner to refuse service to a gay couple as well. The issue then would not have been religion or civil rights in nature but a discussion of owners rights to run their business the way they see fit. That would have been harder for anyone to argue against and would have kept religion out of the discussion altogether.