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Those conservatives who seem to be bent on misusing freedom of religion are wrong, but they also tend to be the riffraff, the fringe, the mouth breathers, knuckle daggers, Bible-thumping mouth-foamers of the radical right who are too cray-cray to merit serious consideration.
These are the extremists who have hijacked the GOP. The GOP needs to hijack their party back, they need to expel these crazy extremists, or the party will fracture and die out, like the Whigs which preceded them.
That does not seem to stop them from trying to get attention or their evil and hateful way.
Conservatives as the right side of the political spectrum, regardless of parties, has always been pro-discrimination, pro-unequal treatment,pro-injustice, pro-subordination of others. We have had to pass civil rights laws, and had ill treatment adjudicated BECAUSE conservatives won't treat people fairly and equally without the coercion of law. Rather we see conservatives having used terrible violence to coerce conformity to their discrimination.
Conservatives also believe in an 'immaculate conception' notion of business creation, by which I mean the belief that any business can be created without the contribution of others, notably government provided services like infrastructure (roads, utilities, educated workforce, customers, fire and police services, etc.). Nope, it's just the business owner and divine fertilization, in the minds of conservatives.
This is factually false. But it is also the core premise underlying the current attempt by conservatives to claim a right of businesses to discriminate, and to assert a religious right to treat people differently by refusing service to some (aka public accommodation).
I cannot come up with a better definition of public accommodation than that offered by wikipedia:
Within U.S. law, public accommodations are generally defined as entities, both public and private, that are used by the public. Examples include retail stores, rental establishments and service establishments, as well as educational institutions, recreational facilities and service centers. Private clubs and religious institutions were exempt. However, in 1984, the United States Supreme Court declared the previously all-male Junior Chamber International, a chamber of Commerce organization for persons between the ages of eighteen and thirty-six, to be a public accommodation, which compelled the admission of women into the ranks.One of the premises of a right of the public to service is that the public provides the context and framework, the infrastructure, in which business operates, and which are essential to business to exist. But more than that, it is a foundational premise of equality that people be able to expect equal treatment in the public sphere, that separate is not equal, that disparate or inferior is not fair or equal, and that refusal of service causes harm.
Courtesy of Findlaw for a partial list of court cases relating to civil rights decisions relating to the conservative laws being overturned that mandated or gave legal cover to discriminate, INCLUDING ON THE BASIS OF SINCERELY HELD RELIGIOUS BELIEFS:
Shelley v Kramer, 1948, overturned the right to exclude property sales on the basis of race, used to keep neighborhoods segregated;
Brown v Board of Education 1954 and 55(I and II) ended segregated education, invalidating separate but equal (hint: it was never equal, but consistently inferior);
Bailey v Patterson, 1962, overturned segregation of transportation facilities (public or private, inter and intrastate);
Loving v Virginia, 1967, overturned prohibitions of inter-racial marriage, in which the Bible and sincerely held religious beliefs about the separation of the races figured prominently;
Jones v Mayer, 1968, another decision that prohibits in property sales and property rentals, (regardless of sincerely held religious belief, or any other pretext or justification);
Griggs v Duke Power Co., 1971, (yes - THAT Duke Power that funds/ owns conservative candidates) overturned discriminatory education and IQ testing for employment (again, based in part on a sincerely held religious-based belief in racial differences);
Oncale v Sundowner Offshore Serv., Inc. 1987 banned same-sex sexual harassment violated the provision of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (the court did not make an exception for sincerely held religious beliefs motivating harassment or bullying);
Add to this list any of the Bob Jones University court decisions that religion or religious beliefs (sincere or otherwise) was not an excuse or legal pretext for discrimination; also
Heart of Atlanta Motel Inc. v. United States, 379 U.S. 241 (1964), that the U.S. Congress could use the Constitution's Commerce Clause to force private businesses to abide by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
This has not been an encyclopedic listing of cases, rather it is a sampling only. Religion is not a legitimate or legal basis for discrimination. In some locations, like the state of Oregon, these protections extend to gender and sexual orientation, and this has been the trend in civil rights.
The right to accommodation, the right regardless of race to service by businesses was settled in the last century -- and not the END of the last century either. In the latter 19th and first half of the 20th century, sincerely held religious beliefs that the races should be separate, (because 'the Bible') was a large part of the justification used by conservative bigots to find ways to subordinate and restrict and oppress black Americans, and to exercise prejudice against other groups, notably Jews and Catholics, and atheists. Now that is extending to those Jews and Christians and other groups who do not conform to their interpretation of religious belief.
That is not decent or spiritual, that is not freedom, that is not "all men (and women) are created equal". That is not our constitution, that is contrary to the essence of community and contrary to the concept of majority rule (with protections for minorities).
We saw in the last election Mitts-on-our-Money Romney's big GOP convention stressed empty chairs and "I created that" notions of businesses being solely the creation of their founders. The premise totally and completely ignored the essential community support and services - and customers - that were essential to the creation and growth of those businesses. There was a denial that any other factors, from services to labor, contributed to the creation of business.
We're seeing the bitter end of bigotry being stripped of legal cover in discrimination against members for the LGBT community. ENDA is inevitable, the only question becomes when not if. It may or may not happen as the SCOTUS is currently constituted, given it is the most conservative court in our history, but it is unlikely that the SCOTUS will remain that conservative or that religion will trump civil rights in the public sphere.