An article in the St. Augustine Record written by David Bauerlein caught my attention. He reported that a bill before the Jacksonville (Florida) City Council “would exempt any ‘religious corporation, association or society’ from being subject to the anti-discrimination law regarding employment of LGBT people.”
He also reported that the local Catholic Bishop wrote to the Mayor and City Council “that any expansion of the city’s anti-discrimination law to cover sexual orientation must have ‘strong conscience exemptions’ for churches, religious organizations and private businesses.”
The Bishop said that although the Church “is opposed to ‘unjust discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,’” any change in the law must ensure that people providing employment, housing and public accommodations can still make decisions guided by their “sincerely and deeply held religious beliefs.”
By the way, in this context, what exactly is “just” discrimination?
Is there any other recognized civil right – either constitutional or statutory – which provides for a “conscience exemption,” either weak or strong?
Can – or should – a public accommodation or landlord or employer be permitted to refuse to serve or rent to or hire a woman or an African-American because of that person’s gender or race or nationality based solely upon a “conscience exemption,” genuine or contrived?