Friday, April 3, 2015

Religious Freedom Restoration Act- A regressive step to allow discrimination.

As expected recently passed 'religious freedom restoration act' created lot of debate and controversy in US media and political circles. Depending on which political party they support people are busy in either criticizing or fiercely defending this controversial law which allows public businesses to deny services to its customers if they feel that it conflicts with their religious beliefs or teachings. Actually most countries allow their citizens to practice religion of their choice (and I know that India and US give this right). They have it in their constitution, so it is not that in US people are discriminated because of their religion or they find it difficult to practice their beliefs. Constitution gives complete freedom to every citizen to practice their faith. I believe that anyone's religion or faith is their personal thing, they have right to choose it and practice it without disturbing others. But it is a problem when people start bringing their faith or religion in public and mixing it with politics or when law makers start making law to favor particular religion or to appease some minority community. Such appeasing behavior either by public or law makers creates huge problems and disturbs social disharmony.

This current law of Indiana is clearly designed to appease conservative community of all religions (specially Christians) who might want to use this law to express their displeasure towards certain groups or communities. It is believed that this can be specially discriminating towards gays and lesbians as certain business might refuse to serve then as their religious beliefs allow them to discriminate against these groups. This is why we specifically have anti-discriminatory laws, some people for whatever reason they try to discriminate. Most of them do these things with lot of conviction and belief because they think that they are doing right thing which is taught to them by their religion or guru or culture or some other belief. If you are in public your personal beliefs don't matter much. You have to follow public code of conduct of that society, you might think your religion is greatest thing human kind ever discovered but that doesn't mean you can abuse other religions; you might think that people or specially women should only dress in certain way because your religious holy book says so but that doesn't mean you can force everyone to follow that dictate. The point is if you are a public business then you are out there to serve customers, and those customers can come from different race, gender, nationality, religions or sexual orientation. One can use any tag to describe those individuals but they all are 'customers' and your business is to serve those 'customers'. Any business's job is not to judge their customer's personal beliefs or character, not to discriminate them based on their sexual orientation or race or gender. These type of discriminatory things used to happen just few decades back, those terrible memories must be still fresh in many people's mind. Many brave people fought very tough and long battles, some even sacrificed their lives to eliminate (or at least reduce) those ugly things from our society. I won't say that discrimination or racism doesn't exist today but at least it doesn't have protection of law, people can be questioned and punished by law if they do these things openly. But if state starts designing any law which can even remotely encourage any type of discrimination then it sets up a very dangerous precedent. This can open the flood gates where political institutions can try to bring similar legislation which can go any extend to appease majority or minority depending on their political interests. In India already these things happen on regular basis and they create lot of mess but I never expected that such thing can happen even in USA, But I think I am wrong in thinking like this, I can see religious fanaticism is on rise everywhere, even US is not a exception to this, so I think this was kind of expected. Even conservative parties are now a days are accused of not conservative enough by their core supports, so they are forced to lush the envelope more to make their constituencies happy. Extreme conservatives or liberals both create big nuisance when they try to push their agendas using political platform.

This law if it lives up to its expectations is definitely a regressive step which might legalize certain type of discrimination. Most religious institutions and their followers are not happy with growing acceptance which gays and lesbians are getting in societies across the world. Same opposition or resentment was displayed when racism or gender discrimination was questioned. There were attempts to continue those discriminatory practices under the name of culture, religion or whatever. But now we all agree (even conservatives) and know that those things were wrong. So why are some people are so eager to destroy those things which took so many efforts and sacrifice to achieve? Just for some political gain? Why to have any law which even remotely has the possibility of some people getting discriminated? How does these things identify with a very progressive and liberal image of USA? If we all agree that any type of discrimination is wrong then why not to stand together against anything which encourages it in any form? I hope better sense from both sides prevails and necessary arrangements are made so that there is no possibility of any discrimination on any grounds against anyone by use or misuse of any law like this. We as a society are already struggling to get rid of discriminatory practices, if any law is needed it is needed to stop discrimination not to encourage it in any way or form. 

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

No comments:

Post a Comment