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Discrimination's Religious Cloak

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Did you know that the United States, which was founded on the principle of religious freedom, has now become a bastion of religious persecution? It's true -- at least according to couple of cases the Supreme Court will address next week.

The oppressed group? American business of course. Seems they're being persecuted for their faith. Didn't realize a business could be a member of a church? I didn't either - haven't seen one being baptized, celebrating a bar mitzvah or making a pilgrimage to Mecca.

But never mind. According to the owners of the national crafts chain Hobby Lobby, if the company health insurance has to cover birth control as required by the Affordable Care Act, it violates corporate religious freedom. Well, it's only right. After all, corporations are citizens.

And it's not just the big companies that are suffering. So are the small businesses like Elane Photography in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The firm says having to photograph a gay commitment ceremony is against management's religious beliefs, and the New Mexico public accommodations law ought not to apply when it comes to their right to refuse service to gays.

Public accommodation laws were originally crafted in the 1960s to stop businesses from refusing to serve Blacks. You remember - those pesky lunch counters and all. The reasoning is that if a business holds itself out to serve the public, it means all the public. But not to worry. Society gets it that race discrimination is bad, and we'd never go back to that.

Don't be so sure.

At the same time his state passed a law banning discrimination against certain dog breeds, South Dakota Republican state Senator Phil Jensen told the Rapid City Journal he doesn't believe governments should interfere in the private sector's ability to discriminate against Blacks. Jensen assures us that the free market will take care of discrimination. Right. The same way corporations ended slavery, gave women the right to vote, and are now petitioning to legalize same-sex marriage.

The Supremes will decide on Monday whether to take Elane Photography's case, and hear arguments from Hobby Lobby on Tuesday. Let's hope they see these shameful suits for what they are: cloaking discrimination in a mantle of religion.

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