In our opinion: In search of shared freedom

An investigative report released Wednesday by Deseret News faith writer Kelsey Dallas identifies and analyzes 139 state bills across the country pertaining to the place of faith in the public square that have surfaced so far in 2018. The number of bills that have surfaced this year isn’t as important as the fact that states are engaging in the arduous process of carving out spaces for multiple groups to live according to their conscience.

The investigative report comes on the heels of last week’s Supreme Court decision affirming that Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips and his beliefs should be treated with respect.

Some have disparaged the court’s decision — or, as they see it, its nondecision — because it left sweeping judgments and rule-making for another day. That’s a good thing, as it allows the laboratories of democracy to forge their own compromises more tailored to their circumstances than a federal mandate could be.

The ruling shows approaching rights and civil liberties with tolerance and compassion is the higher way, but it came at an unfortunate time when a growing number of people equate religious liberty with being anti-gay.

That’s a false equation.

As Wednesday’s report indicates, protecting the liberty of all citizens extends far beyond the LGBT community and the religious community. And the two are not mutually exclusive. Only eight of the 139 bills identified deal with service refusals similar to the Masterpiece Cakeshop situation. And 37 bills focus on protecting LGBT rights. The remaining 94 bills cover topics ranging from faith’s role in public speech to adoption services and the intersection of religion and health care.

The sad truth, however, is partisanship has taken its toll on the idea of shared freedom, with mostly Republicans signing on to legislation protecting religious belief while mainly Democrats have championed protections for LGBT rights.

Civil, constitutionally …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Top stories


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