NOTE: This article was originally written May 15th, 2014

Lately ‘freedom of religion’ has become nothing more than ‘freedom to hate’

I don’t write opinion pieces very often. They’re usually not worth the headaches. But this trend in “religious freedom” bills around the country is really disturbing to me.

I’m a gay man, I’m a Lutheran and I believe in God. I‘m gay because God made me this way; it’s NOT a choice. I even wear a necklace with a cross on it.

There, I said it. The U.S. constitution allows me to worship as I please; that’s called freedom of religion. It also allows me to “express” that belief by telling you; that’s freedom of speech. Just the same, you’re allowed to disagree with me and express that disagreement. That, too, is freedom of speech.

What the Constitution doesn’t allow me to do is to force this belief on you. I am not allowed to “make” you do anything, or force any action against you because we don’t agree. But it seems that a lot of very far-right wing Christians, who are also business owners, believe they are allowed to do so using discrimination.

This is where the line is already clearly drawn, but nobody seems to be paying attention to it. You are not a church. You are not a religion. You’re a business.

And when you have a business you can’t just choose who to serve or not serve.

Though you may say “I don’t want to do business with you because you are gay”, would this not fall under sexual (gender)discrimination anyway? You are discriminating because you have two males, or two females, not one male and one female clearly choosing genders to your liking.

This is clearly moving us back to pre-1964, when the Civil Rights Act was passed to end race-based discrimination. The government allowing such discrimination under the false banner of “freedom of religion” also breaks the separation of church and state.

Are we becoming a country where we create laws to suppress the freedoms we stand for because it’s convenient to use your church to express your hate? It’s clearly not what Jesus would do. I think he’s a little more worried about the suffering, the sick and the poor. At least that’s what religion taught me. Am I worshipping incorrectly too?

I think I’ll start disliking people, and use my church to validate my hatred toward people who like bacon. It’s in the Bible, you know!

What about women who aren’t virgins? Or anyone who’s divorced? Atheists, agnostics…don’t come to my store, either! You’re all a bunch of heathens!

Now don’t I sound ridiculous? Of course I do.

If we continue to allow such things to happen, and create laws that make discrimination the norm, we are no better than the Middle Eastern, African and Asian countries we criticize for doing the same things.

Even worse, some countries in these regions kill people for going against “state religion.” As of May 1, the country of Brunei adopted Sharia law, which punishes homosexuality with death by stoning.

When do we become that? When do we go so far backwards and start lynching again? When do we become terrorists in the name of a religion? When do we become the country we criticize?