The passage of Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SEA 101) in Indiana has sparked controversy. It is a law to protect businesses of their Constitutional right to religion and conscience. Last night I was on twitter. I responded positively to the WSJ’s tweet on the subject. Shortly thereafter I was challenged. Some of my tweets were, “To say NO to those who wants to FORCE you to violate your religion and belief is not discrimination.” This individual responded to me by comparing Christian business owners to extremist Muslims who feel they have a right to kill. Clearly, this person does not understand what rights are. This is a good opportunity for scholars to educate the public.
The Bill of Rights, found in the U.S. Constitution, did not just drop out of nowhere in the minds of the Framers or the States. The theory of rights, for the colonist, came from John Locke’s Book, Two Treatises of Government. In fact, the Declaration of Independence quotes Locke verbatim in several passages. However, to understand a right and how to us a right is fundamental to our society. A right is based on three components Locke established: Life, liberty, and property. Therefore, this is a birthright for all human beings. Government did not give them, nor can government take them away. This concept was only apprehended within the framework of Christian dome. Never before in history had people thought of themselves in this way.
But rights is something each of us have. I have a right to live, for example. But another person does not have a right to take my life. I have a right to property, but another does not have a right to steal from me. Hence, laws are enacted to protect rights. Moreover, people have a right to the religion of their choice and to freely exercise their conscience. If another tries to force them to violate their religion and conscience, is to violate their rights to accommodate another’s. This is discrimination. I have a right to freely speak my mind, but if another shouts me down, or hits me over the head, then they have violated my right. In effect, no one has the “right” to violate another’s right. Simply put, my rights cannot infringe on your rights and your rights cannot infringe on my rights. Liberty is the key word and concept here. Otherwise it would be a form of Fascism.
© By James Booker
March 30, 2015