Photographer faces law suit

Started Aug 23, 2013 | Discussions thread
Peter A. Stavrakoglou
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Re: Christ commanded to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's.
In reply to santamonica812, Sep 8, 2013

santamonica812 wrote:

What law in the USA forces someone to violate their own religious principles? Is this what it has come to, forcing Christians to violate their beliefs? You can choose to work for whomever you wish but asking a photographer to take part in a celebration of something that against his/her principles is wrong.

There are, literally, hundred and hundreds of such laws. From the 13th and 14th amendments and the Civil Rights Act, to the ADA (American with Disabilities Act), to countless state anti-discrimination laws.

Anti-discrimination laws should not be used to target a person's religious beliefs. The Constitution provides protection against laws against "impeding the free exercise of religion" and that right, like so many of other Constitutional rights, are slowly but surely being violated until we have been conditioned to the point that we no longer have those rights at all.

Note that all of these laws do allow religious organizations to continue to discriminate. So, for example, until very recently, the Mormon church refused to allow blacks to be religious leaders within the church. The Catholic church does not allow women to be religious leaders. These are all fine. Religions can be as prejudiced as they want. (The Mormon's have now changed this position, although they were not legally required to; the Catholic church has--lawfully!!--decided to continue with this religiously-permissible discrimination.)

But, as many people have already pointed out, what we allow organized religions to do is NOT the same as what we allow people (religious or not) to do in their day-to-day lives. If you want to work as a church photographer, doing only church weddings, then you are free to refuse to photograph inter-racial marriages, gay marriages, etc. (Of course, you probably cannot go out and photograph non-church weddings under this hypo.)

This is not a matter of just simply choosing a client, it is a matter of a person's deeply held religious belief and the law compelling them to violate it.

Should not "tolerance" be practiced by gay people too? If they have no tolerance for a Christian photographer's belief then perhaps they should be as tolerant as they wish others to be and just move on and find a photographer who is willing to take them on as a client. I do not equate standing up for my beliefs with discrimination.

I actually have some sympathy for your position...it's a good general rule that people should be allowed to choose their clients. And this is especially true for people who make the decision to work for themselves--one of the big advantages seems like it should be that we can pick and choose the work we do.

But, as a society, we have decided as a group (ie, through passing anti-discrimination laws) that the advantages of giving photographers (bakers, et al) this freedom is outweighed by the rights of gays (women, minorities, religious groups, etc) to be free from discrimination.

Again, I don't equate this with discrimination.  A person simply refuses to take part in a celebration that violates his/her religious principles.

You may disagree with this societal judgment. I STRONGLY support your right to not only disagree, but your right to loudly and repeatedly object, and for you right to encourage us to change/revoke these anti-discrimination laws. Similarly, I am sure you encourage me and others to--just as loudly and repeatedly--to argue for a position that is opposite yours. I take this position knowing that I will lose a bit of my freedom to pick my clients. But all those people in those many disadvantaged groups will gain the extra freedom of being safe from discrimination in their day-to-day non-religious lives, and--on balance--that seems a fair trade-off to me.

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