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Christians still fail to understand religious freedom

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 29/10/2015 Dale Hansen

The conservative media is always looking for a reason to be outraged. Unfortunately, the origin of the outrage is often a lack of information. For example, Megyn Kelly of Fox News took to the air earlier this week to discuss a court case that she feels proves President Obama and liberals are waging a war on Christianity.

"A jury has awarded a big pay out to a pair of Muslim truck drivers who were fired after refusing to deliver alcoholic beverages; citing their religious convictions. The Obama administration actually represented the two Muslims in this case, but has sometimes taken a very different position in the case of Christians".

The conversation that follows between Kelly and Judge Andrew Napolitano would have you believe that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was going out of their way to help establish religious freedom for Muslims while ignoring or actively fighting against these same freedoms for those of Christian faith.

A quick look at the cases at the EEOC exposes just how uninformed Kelly is since their press releases show the EEOC has been involved in a number of cases defending Christians.

On 7-17-15 the EEOC won $22,000 for a Seventh-Day Adventist who was refused a job because his religious belief did not allow him to work on the Sabbath.

On 8-27-15 the EEOC won a $586,860 award for an Evangelical Christian who refused to use a bio-metric time clock due to his religious beliefs.

On 8-21-15 the EEOC sued the National Federation of the Blind for terminating a Hebrew Pentecostal employee who refused to work on the Sabbath.

On 8-20-14 the EEOC sued for a Jehovah's Witness who was fired because his religious beliefs required him to attend church on Thursday and Sunday evenings.

On 12-23-13 the EEOC won a $40,000 settlement for a Pentecostal employee who was fired for refusing to wear pants since it was against her religious beliefs.

On 11-4-13 the EEOC won a $70,000 settlement for a Jehovah's Witness who was fired shortly after requesting a schedule change to attend an annual religious service.

On 1-23-13 the EEOC won a $25,000 settlement for a Pentecostal employee who was refused a job because her religious beliefs call for her to wear a dress instead of the pants required by the company dress code.

Demonizing the president and liberals is par for the course when it comes to conservative media, but the idea that the EEOC has some anti-Christian agenda is insulting and ignorant.

Of course, rather than cite any of these cases and rationally discuss what the law does and does not allow for when it comes to religious freedom, zealots like Kelly errantly compare the religious freedom of these Muslim drivers to the Colorado cake baker who was found in violation of the law for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding.

While it may look like these cases are similar, the reality is they are quite different in one important aspect - discrimination. The job of the cake baker is to bake cakes. When he refuses to bake a cake for a gay couple he is not doing so because his religious beliefs say he can't bake a cake - he would likely have no issues baking this exact same cake for a heterosexual wedding. He is doing so because his religious beliefs suggest there is something wrong with this couple. In the end, he is not refusing to bake a cake, he is refusing service to someone based on who they are. That is discrimination.

The job of the Muslim truck driver is to drive a truck. Neither operator refused to drive a truck that day. What they refused to do was transport alcohol, since doing so was against their religious beliefs. If conservatives want to compare this decision to the Colorado cake baker the apt comparison would be that the cake baker has the right to refuse to include words on a cake that are against his beliefs. The baker could also refuse to provide a cake on Sunday or use alcohol in a cake based on his religious freedom. They are free to object to the specifics of the service if it falls outside of their religious convictions. They are not allowed to discriminate against a person for who they are.

Clearly this is a topic that the general public needs more information on as religious freedom is one of the most important rights granted by the U.S. Constitution. Unfortunately the conservative media continues to leave their viewers less informed by constantly misrepresenting the legal definition of this right.

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