The reaction to the Arizona legislature's passage of SB 1062, this week is growing louder with even the Junior U.S. Senator weighing in against it from becoming law. The proposed measure (which is on Governor Jan Brewer's desk) purports to expand religious freedom to an extreme extent where a "sincerely held" religious belief could immunize "any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, religious assembly or institution or other business organization" from legal action from violating local LGBT ordinances in Phoenix, Tucson or Flagstaff or any other state-based civil rights legislation.
The measure is so broad that a local Arizona television news station summarizes its impact thusly:
Senate Bill 1062 re-defines and expands the state's definition of "exercise of religion" and "state action" to protect businesses, corporations and people from lawsuits after denying services based on a sincere religious belief.
According to the bill, "A person whose religious exercise is burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or a defense in a judicial proceeding, regardless of whether the government is a party to the proceeding."
The bill also establishes a set of needed guidelines for when this potential defense could be used in court:Who would have thought that a Republican-dominated legislature would be the first legislative body in the United States to support Sharia law? If SB 1062 becomes law, the legislature has thus endorsed the idea that religious belief should trump law. That includes religious belief by Muslims, Scientologists or Christian Scientists. Under this law, Muslim taxi drivers would be able to refuse to carry unmarried female passengers traveling alone, or a person could claim they were able to run a red light because their religion told them they could not be late for church.
- The person's action or refusal to act is motivated by a religious belief
- The person's religious belief is sincerely held
- The state action substantially burdens the exercise of the person's religious beliefs
The main argument against Brewer signing the bill is that the 2015 Super Bowl is currently scheduled for the Phoenix metro area but you know there will be intense pressure to move it if the bill becomes law, including another move to boycott Arizona. Again.
Hat/tip to Joe.My.God