“It’s sad and ironic that a nation founded by those fleeing religious persecution is now passing laws to discriminate against others based on religion,” says Philadelphia City Council candidate Sherrie Cohen.
All right, let’s see:
(1) Who was allowed to vote in 17th-century Massachusetts Bay?
(2) What happened to Quakers who proselytized in Massachusetts?
(3) What religious persecution were people in Georgia fleeing from?
(4) What prominent Puritan composed a general appeal for “religious liberty” in the abstract?
(5) Did tax money fund any churches in colonial and early republican America?
(6) What religious persecution were the Anglicans of Virginia fleeing from?
Answers: (1) church members only; (2) they were banished, tortured, and/or executed; (3) none; (4) none; (5) yes; (6) none.
(1) What religion does the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) require people to belong to?
(2) Under the RFRA, how much tax money goes to support churches?
(3) Under the RFRA, what precise form of government persecution has been introduced?
The RFRA simply gives property owners the remote chance of (a) being able to decide for themselves whether they want to engage in commercial activity with particular people. The alternative to (a) is (b): forcing people to behave against their will at the point of a gun.
Hmm, forcing people to do things against their will and against their consciences. I’ll bet I could find some colonial precedent for that — drawn from bullet points in this very blog post.
(Note: as you can see from my podcast episode on the subject, my own view of this law is nuanced; the law is convoluted, vague, and imprecise, and the whole matter should instead be decided on the basis of property rights.)