I read recently that The Satanic Temple is petitioning for an amendment to the proposed Religious Freedom Restoration Act bill in Michigan that would require businesses to publicly post their discrimination policies. Won’t your campaign for “discrimination transparency” serve to make open discrimination more acceptable?
The Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)
bill, ostensibly designed to “limit laws that substantially burden a person's free exercise of religion”, is often feared to merely give affrighted superstitious bumpkins free license to contravene basic Federal Civil Rights – allowing for open discrimination – in the name of religious freedom. Lest one mistakenly speculate that the bill’s sponsoring lawmakers imagined anything of a less disgusting, socially beneficial nature, the bill’s proponent, Jase Bolger, is quite clear that discrimination is indeed paramount here. Introducing the bill as a necessary adjunct to a bill meant to protect LGBT rights, Bolger conveyed that RFRA would help preserve the virtue of pious bakers who might suffer irreparable spiritual harm should they be made to produce a cake for some godforsaken homos.
A ridiculous concern for Bible-based bakers somehow resonated with the limited imaginations of low-powered minds, and soon, sen. Rick Jones was imagining scenarios in which – only by the blessed power of RFRA – these Christ-ly culinarians could avoid having to bake a cake for members of The Satanic Temple.
Rousing our Detroit chapter into action, Jex Blackmore of our executive ministry, dutifully started a petition for an amendment to the proposed RFRA bill calling for “discrimination transparency.” According to the petition “Patrons do not deserve to endure the distress, humiliation and inconvenience associated with being refused service by a public business in their communities,” and thus the burden should be placed upon businesses that would exercise the right to discriminate to conspicuously post their biases. In a press release, I replied to the concern that such open displays of discrimination would foster a Jim Crow era environment stating, “I’ll be happy if people generally recognize that parallel. The shame of this encroaching regression of Civil Rights belongs with the bigoted simple minds who practice discrimination in a notion of religious liberty, not on those of us who ask it to be recognized for what it is.”
In short, we fear transparency far less than we fear an environment in which discriminatory practices are concealed, forgotten, and complacently ignored by the unaffected. The shame of such idiocy, mindlessly brought to issue by regressive, gullible and unqualified politicians should stare us in the face openly. We want to know which businesses discriminate, and who they discriminate against, so that we can take our business elsewhere.
If you feel the same, please sign and share the petition.
Jex Blackmore has written an in-depth essay regarding the issue on the Daily Kos.
Lucien Greaves is the pen name/pseudonym for Doug Mesner, spokesman for The Satanic Temple.