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February 26th, 2014
09:11 PM ET

Religious freedom or discrimination?

Crossfire hosts Van Jones & S.E. Cupp debate the controversial Arizona 'religious freedom' bill with Neera Tanden and Peter Sprigg.

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Filed under: Debates • Gay rights • Neera Tanden • Peter Sprigg • Religion • S.E. Cupp • Van Jones
soundoff (28 Responses)

    Affirmative action is racism.

    February 28, 2014 at 5:46 pm | Reply
  2. Mike

    Religion is about controlling people to live under belief system. When forced on others that disagree with any belief system then it is discrimination.

    February 28, 2014 at 2:18 pm | Reply
    • nathanhurley1

      The question is....what is religion? It means different things to different people. You can't "condemn" all religion over what a few random people do. I am a Christian, but I claim to know, and follow Jesus Christ I don't think same sex marriage is "right" or "natural" (you can look at body parts to see that), but I don't condemn anyone either. I have 2 gay uncles, and i love them.

      The thing most Christians don't realize is that non believers are not meant to live by our "code" or Jesus' teachings.

      March 4, 2014 at 7:30 pm | Reply
      • kurt

        Another way to put it is that many Christians don't realize that to non-believers, the concerns about Sharia Law and Christian Law invading our legal system are about equal.

        Many Christians are scared that Muslim religious teachings and morals may gain sway in the US. But they can't connect that to others being afraid of Christian teachings and morals having control of our laws.

        If you don't believe in a religion, you don't want that religions beliefs controlling the laws under which you live.

        March 5, 2014 at 10:40 am |
  3. Chuck

    The vast majority of people practice their religions peaceably. They go to Church, say their prayers, and try to be good, honest people. This is the majority of people in the United States. The other fanatical religious people want to legislate how people should live, who has what rights, and use phrases such as "abominations" to decribe those that do not fit their sick little twited image of what a person should be, how they should act, speak, behave, and do with their own bodies as consenting adults. The majority have a very hard time listening to this vicious condemnation, from the fanatics, used to belittle and describe those they bemoan. All of America is sick of Religious radicalism.

    February 28, 2014 at 2:10 pm | Reply
  4. DaveM

    Religious freedom? What religion promotes discrimination? Certainly not a Christian one. The last time I checked Jesus' teachings in the New Testament, they were about acceptance, forgiveness and loving you neighbor. These people must be the small "c" christians. Small "c" christians hold up their Christianity like a club, but don't actually believe in the principles. When religion touches politics, it is instantly tainted...

    February 28, 2014 at 8:46 am | Reply
    • georgex9

      But there are many politicians who use strict religious ideas in order to gain votes.

      February 28, 2014 at 4:53 pm | Reply
  5. Penny

    He is sleeping with Monsanto and a dozen other companies that want to poison Americans....

    February 27, 2014 at 6:52 pm | Reply
    • Penny

      Americans are about the only ones that haven't banned GMO an Monsanto from their countries.. Wake up AMERICA

      February 27, 2014 at 6:54 pm | Reply
    • Penny

      Where does NUT and the other idiot eat? When they get liver disease and cancer the may wise up a little. Highly doubtful but...

      February 27, 2014 at 6:57 pm | Reply
  6. Dobey

    Does religious freedom apply to all religions or just their brand of right wing Christian conservatives? Many right wing Christian conservatives oppose a mosque being built in their neighborhood which may be a near a church as in the case in Tennessee.

    February 27, 2014 at 12:54 pm | Reply
    • Smitty

      Instead of bashing others, why don't you buy some lots in your neighborhood and donate them to the Muslims, Catholics, Mormons etc . Don't you people get tired of making lameo excuses day after day for Obammy THE BIGGEST LIAR OF THE YEAR !!!! Oh that's right just blame the repubs or whoever else is handy (Bush, Fox news etc)

      February 27, 2014 at 1:19 pm | Reply
      • Dobey

        Who said anything about Obama? I wasn't bashing anyone. I was making an observation that , "religious freedom" excuse is convenient when it comes to extreme right wing Christians. But if another faith wants to practice their faith then religious freedom doesn't apply because they are not of the your kind. The case I am reference is an actual case where the Muslims purchased the lot next to a church but the right wing conservatives in the area were against them building their worship building. There is double standard when one asserts their religious freedom rights are violated.

        February 27, 2014 at 3:38 pm |
      • Smitty

        B.S. You were taking a cheap shot at conservatives, who actually moved this country forward. (no im not one them) Im sick of anti repub, anti conserve crap. I don't care if your Jewish Muslim Gay what ever. But I don't have to support it to prove im not a racist. Again if you feel that strong then build them a church

        February 27, 2014 at 5:16 pm |
      • kurt

        Actually, the definition of conservative is a group that wants to keep things as they are.

        By definition conservatives don't move the country forward... they keep it stable. Progressives move it forward. Regressives move it backwards.

        And on the other point, religious freedom means that you have the right to worship in the manner of your choosing. That doesn't mean you have the right to run a business in an illegal manner. I cannot be part of a religion that accepts prostitution and claim it gives me the right to run a brothel. You cannot be part of a religion that supports discrimination and violate the civil rights act.

        Believe whatever you want. Worship however you want. But if you can't run a business within the bounds of the laws of our country, then run your business somewhere else or choose not to run the business.

        February 27, 2014 at 10:39 pm |
  7. jeremy

    I don't think the intent of this bill was to legalize outright discrimination against people who are homosexual. The intent was to give some protection to business owners who decline to render services in support of a gay wedding, homosexual activity, or celebration of homosexuality. Instead of suing the business, how about just finding another vendor that will provide what you want. Then there would not be a need for these types of laws.

    February 27, 2014 at 12:06 pm | Reply
    • kurt

      So I guess if a diner wants to hang a sign saying "blacks not served here", then African Americans should just find another place to eat?

      We've fought this battle. We have laws that say that if you are a publicly operating business (as opposed to a private club) you MUST refrain from discriminating based on the protected classes we have in this country. Gender. Age. Race. Religion. And yes, even sexual orientation. All are now on the protected class list.

      Saying "We don't serve Gays" is banned by the same law that prohibits you from saying "We don't serve blacks". And you can't use the excuse of religion to break that law.

      February 27, 2014 at 5:19 pm | Reply
      • Smitty

        Correct me if Im wrong, But cant retailers post a sign we reserve the right to reserve the right to serve who we want ??? I don't agree with it but I believe you can refuse service to anybody ????

        February 27, 2014 at 7:13 pm |
      • kurt

        No you can't, not if it's a protected class.

        You can base a hiring decision on anything... other then a protected class. You can reserve the right to serve who you want... as long as it's not based on a protected class.

        You cannot refuse to hire or serve someone simply because of their race, gender, age, religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation, pregnancy, familial status, national origin, veteran status, disability, or citizenship.

        You can say "no shirt, no shoes, no service"... because clothing is not a protected status. You cannot say "Only citizens served here" or "Military veterans will not be served".

        See the difference? We don't live in pre-civil rights America. Discrimination in the public business sector based on protected classes is NOT legal. I can't believe anyone thinks it should be okay for people to refuse to serve people because of their skin color or religion or sexual orientation. This battle has already been fought. The side of good WON. Quit trying to take us back to the time segregation was okay.

        February 27, 2014 at 10:29 pm |
      • jeremy

        If a business hung a "we don't serve gays" sign, that would be discrimination. If a homosexual person went to a diner and ordered a sandwich and the server said "we don't serve gays because of our religion", that would be discrimination. But, Kurt, can't you understand the difference when a homosexual person goes to a wedding planner and says "I want you to plan my same-sex wedding" and the owner respectfully declines because they feel they would be supporting something they believe to be immoral? It's not because of the people involved, it's the actions.

        February 28, 2014 at 6:36 am |
      • kurt

        There is no difference.

        If a wedding planner believes that interracial marriage is immoral, they should not be allowed to deny service. If a wedding planner believes muslims are immoral, they should not be allowed to deny service. If a wedding planner believes that elderly people are immoral, they cannot deny service.

        These are protected classes. You cannot use them when determining who you serve... PERIOD

        February 28, 2014 at 1:22 pm |
  8. kurt

    These are the current protected classes under US law (as defined by statute and by court interpretation of statute):

    destructive behavior, and I'm not going to join you. You aren't satisfied with that. You want me to pick you up at your drug dealer's place in my taxi, stuff your beaten woman in my trunk, and drive you to the liquor store so you can rob it. I say no, it would be morally wrong of me to support you.

    So here we are. Do I have the right to deny you my support of your choices, or am I punished for not helping you?

    February 26, 2014 at 8:07 pm | Reply


    It is illegal under the civlil rights act of 1964 (Title VII) and it's ammendments for a business that is a "place of public accomodation" to discriminate based on any protected class.

    Those protected classes are currently:

    -National Origin
    -familial status
    -veteran status
    -genetic information
    -sexual orientation

    Those classes are protected both for hiring and for businesses in the public domain providing their product or service to others.

    Using religion as an excuse to discriminate against one of those classes is simply not acceptable.

    Let's say I create a religion that has a core belief that Christians are going to hell and are sinners. You have to realize that many religions do believe that about members of other religions.

    Using this proposed law, I would be able to deny service to christians (currently protected by the religion class above).

    Christians believe unwed sexual activity is wrong. This law would allow them to deny service to pregnant women who are not married (currently protected by pregnancy and familial status classes above)

    Let's say I create a religion that believes everyone over the age of 65 should kill themselves. This law would allow me to not serve the elderly (currently protected under age class above).

    It's a BAD LAW. We cannot have people using religion as an excuse to break the law... because anyone can create a world view and call it a religion. Look at the pastafarians... are they going to be allowed to practice piracy because their religion believes it is a good thing?

    February 27, 2014 at 10:28 am | Reply
    • ST

      The law that was vetoed would not have encouraged or prevented some of the alleged acts of discrimination. An individual set on discriminating can do so without requirement to disclose the reason. So, if a business owner choses not to serve a person, they can do so without disclosure of their reason. Using the photographer example, I could meet the couple, review my services and politely tell them I am unavailable. The reason why I am unavailable is immaterial and not required for disclosure. Their is already and existing law on the books in Arizona for religious freedom. The amendment broadened the definition of "person" and required a test for use of "religious freedom" as a defense in an legal action. While the amendment did not pass, the original law still exists. The assumption made is that there would be rampant discrimination against one group of people, when there was nothing to prove that to be the case. In respect to those who hold religious beliefs that conflict with our own beliefs and values, there has to be a workable middle ground that allows for objection without infringement. If not, we should seek that for the greater benefit of our ever changing society.

      February 27, 2014 at 7:33 pm | Reply
      • kurt

        We've had cases like this when race discrimination was first made illegal. It IS possible to sue and win even if a reason was not given.

        For example... if a restraint is serving whites and a black person is denied service (but it's not stated that the reason is because he is black), he can still sue and win by proving others who were similar aside from skin color were not denied service.

        In the case of a photographer... if the homosexual couple can prove that the photographer later scheduled a similar job on the same date with a non-gay couple... they will likely successfully sue.

        People seem to forget the established law dealing with racial discrimination because it hasn't been news for some time. But it's there and it's directly applicable because the same federal statutes apply (civil rights act of 1964)

        February 27, 2014 at 10:34 pm |
  9. andrea renee hall

    CUP – you have to remember, it wasn't a Democrat who came up with this kind of bill. We know where our President stands on this kind of waste in Washington. That the GOP would rather waste time then create jobs. This is so obvious to the American People in every state. What is so insulting to most Religious people see a few extremists are hiding behind their own hate and fear as usual, but now are using the pulpit to take away the freedoms of others who are in the position to provide service to community. This is sad..

    February 27, 2014 at 9:09 am | Reply
  10. Minnie Mouse

    Total 100% discrimination. Do you see any other states writing up a bill like that? No, because it would never pass and it's wrong. We are all human beings and deserve equal treatment, regardless to who are, what race we are and what our sexuality is.

    February 27, 2014 at 6:43 am | Reply
  11. badgirl2

    Discrimination in the guise of "religious freedom". Religion is based on a "tribal" mentality meaning someone does not like something someone else this case living a gay lifestyle. Now they can't come out and say "I" don't approve of the lifestyle because then they will be called (correctly) as intolerant. So the solution is to say "god" doesn't approve of the gay lifestyle. This way they can justify their bigotry by using religion.

    We've seen this throughout history. Most recently in the 1960's the same concept was used to try to stop the end of segregation and sadly it will continue to rear it's ugly head until we as a nation call them out each and every time a group of people try to discriminate against a group of people because THEY don't approve of what that group is doing.

    February 27, 2014 at 12:33 am | Reply
    • Smitty

      Then your admitting the Dems/Liberals and repubs are tribal, same principal ????? I really don't care about race, color or creed, but I don't have to do business with people I don't like. (regardless of rel, race etc}

      February 27, 2014 at 7:17 pm | Reply

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