With the rise of the radical right here in the once moderate and sane State of Ohio, we have seen too many examples of extremism. Unions. Women’s health. Concealed carry and the introduction of an ersatz stand-your-ground-but-call-it-something-else bill. The Legislature seems to see Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas and Kansas as models of an Ohio Conservative Utopia.
With all the real issues facing Ohio, the House has a bill hanging around to defend religion. After all, Christians are persecuted by socialist, secular, hippie Liberals like myself.
HB 376 is called The Ohio Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Orwell would be proud as to how the English language can be twisted to state an opposite of intent. Perhaps The Ohio Religious Persecution and Inquisition Act could be more appropriate.
While this bill not not overtly legalize LBGT discrimination to the point of updating and bringing back Jim Crow, but it has potential.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Derickson (R-53) Oxford and Rep. Patmon (D-10) Cleveland.
The bill has forty-five co-sponsors. Three are Democrats.
At the moment it is languishing in the House Judiciary Committee. Let’s hope it stays there. With this legislature anything is possible.
So, what is HB 376? The Ohio Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Let’s take a look at this.
Here in Ohio we recently have had a couple lawsuits to remove portraits of Jesus from public schools. This got the Ohio version of the Christian Taliban in a hissy fit resulting in their panties being extremely twisted. So this bill’s germination was kind of the Jesus Portrait Protection act. Because, any decision against the majority religion in the state is obviously persecution. What else could it be? People don’t think of Ohio as being in the Bible Belt. Well, we have Denominations here that make the Baptists look like Unitarians.
So, to stop all this blatant Christian persecution and trampling of religious freedom (seen as the freedom to trample everyone else’s rights in the name of GOD) this far reaching and very possibly unconstitutional bill was crafted. Because…FREEDOM!
Here we go.
HB 376 allows an individual in Ohio standing to sue if they feel their religious freedom has been restricted, burdened or denied by Government, business or person. This seems rather broad in its reach, to me.
So, what could we expect?
Are your religious beliefs burdened or denied by say, having to serve LBGT persons in your bakery? What about interracial couples or their children? What if your religious belief is such that you believe God has granted you the responsibility to beat your wife or children or stone prostitutes to death. Can you halt teaching of the Torah or Quran in Comparative Lit classes at a college because it offends your religious belief? Could you could claim being pulled over on Sunday enroute to church for speeding is a burden on your exercise of religious freedom. And so on. And so on.
The statute is so broad these examples are not necessarily out of the question.
If a business said Happy Holidays, is that a burden on your religious freedom? Does school curriculum need to be rewritten to not deny your religious right to reject science? Are you exempt from prosecution if denial of medical attention is part of your belief system, even if it results in preventable death?
The big problem is this bill allows an aggrieved person to sue over anything that is, to them, a breach of religious freedom. It does not even have to be a large or substantial imposition on religious belief. There is also provisions for damages.
However, this may be an oversight, but this is for any religion. I wonder how fast a repeal or amendments would happen if it were used by Hindus, Buddhists, Jews or, Muslims.
AS it stands, this bill opens a Pandora’s box (are Greek myths actionable) which would clog the courts with suits by aggrieved Christians over not always getting their way.
So, if this were to ever pass, Ohio could slide in the back door, so to speak, and establish a system of discrimination making Jim Crow look like amateur night. Maybe for once the Ohio House could show a bit of restraint and allow this bill to die in committee.
I know. That’s asking for, dare I say it, a miracle.
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