Friday, April 10, 2015

Some Questions about Rights

1) If it's okay for Angie's List and other businesses to boycott Indiana because they believe Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) is wrong, why is it not okay for small businesses to boycott gay weddings because they believe, rightly or wrongly, that gay marriage is wrong? What is the significant difference?

2) Is there not a significant difference between the act of refusing service to people who enter a shop which is open to the public and the act of refusing to engage in business at an event which celebrates what the businessperson believes to be an immoral activity? Suppose, for example, that a group of Satanists walked into a catering business owned by Christians and asked them to cater a Satanic mass. Would, or should, the caterer be obligated to service this event? Suppose the mass involved explicit sexual behavior or animal sacrifice. Would any photographer who was solicited by the hosts of the event be required to provide photographic services at the affair even if she felt that this was something she didn't wish to be a part of?

Maybe there's something here that I'm missing, but it seems to me that if religious freedom has any meaning at all it should mean that a businessperson should not be required by the state to participate in, or attend, events to which the people running the business have sincere moral objections. This is a different situation, of course, than one in which people walk into an establishment to make a purchase. In that circumstance, the customer is not representing him or herself as anything other than a human being, and the businessperson is not being asked to participate in any activity other than a normal business transaction. In such a case the customer is, and should be, legally entitled to service, but if the laws of the state demand that businesspersons must actually attend, and thus participate in, events that are explicit expressions of behavior deemed immoral by the businessperson, those laws are unjust and need to be changed.