Amy has been doing a terrific job of letting the world know how regressive our state is becoming with regard to the use of religious beliefs to deny health care, adoption, and other services based on the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Michigan. What’s not often mentioned is the humiliation that is endured by those who are faced with this discrimination when they are told they aren’t good enough to receive the service they are looking for. This humiliation compounds what are often life and death situations.
The Satanic Temple of Detroit has a solution to this problem that would allow those being discriminated against to avoid this assault on their dignity: force businesses and organizations to post their discrimination policies publicly. They have a petition asking for this language to be added to the RFRA legislation:
In a preemptive response MI’s proposed “religious discrimination” bill, The Satanic Temple of Detroit demands an amendment to the Michigan Religious Freedom and Restoration Act legally requiring businesses to openly display their discrimination policies up-front.
In response to Michigan’s proposed Religious Freedom Restoration Act Bill — legislation widely criticized for legalizing discriminatory practices in the name of “religious freedom” — The Satanic Temple (TST) of Detroit has started a petition to urge the state Senate to consider adding an amendment that would legally require businesses who accommodate the public to post any discrimination policy in effect in a conspicuous location visible to patrons and employees. The group is also offering store front signs that openly state the discrimination policies of the business or service for those who would like to voluntarily participate. Jex Blackmore of TST’s Executive Ministry and Detroit Chapter Director explains, “Not only would such signs help save time and embarrassment for those who might otherwise go into a place of business and find themselves unwelcome, but they would also prove helpful to those of us who disagree with discriminatory policies in general. We will wish to take our own business elsewhere, whether the policies directly exclude us or not.”
Last month, when it was revealed that a pediatrician at Eastlake Pediatrics in Roseville, MI refused to treat an infant so as to uphold the religious right to discriminate against the infant’s lesbian mothers, The Satanic Temple was appalled both by the flagrant bigotry as well as the waste of time and effort the episode imposed upon the mothers. According to the mothers, they had picked out their pediatrician months in advance of finally being informed of the pediatrician’s prejudice. “It would be better for everybody involved if businesses and services were completely transparent regarding their positions on discrimination,” Blackmore explains, “We have signs available online for print-up that both allow for businesses to specify who they discriminate against, or, if they have a non-discrimination policy in effect. Patrons do not deserve to endure the distress, humiliation and inconvenience associated with being refused service by a public business in their communities. Instead, business owners should assume the responsibility of communicating their biases publicly.”
Responding to concerns that such signs would serve to foster a Jim Crow era environment, The Satanic Temple’s co-founder and national spokesperson, Lucien Greaves, states, “I’ll be happy if people generally recognize that parallel. The shame of this encroaching regression of Civil Rights belongs with the bigoted simple minds who practice discrimination in a notion of religious liberty, not on those of us who ask it to be recognized for what it is.”
They’ve even made it easy for bigots by providing a downloadable sign for easy posting:
This is a fabulous idea. If you are using your “sincerely held religious beliefs” to discriminate against people in your community and are willing to turn them away, you should be equally willing to say so publicly and avoid the shame and embarrassment your bigotry creates in the lives of those you are discriminating against. It also has the side benefit of letting the rest of us know who NOT to give our business to.
I feel pretty certain that Michigan Republicans will not approve this, unfortunately. Hypocrites that they are, they prefer to be able to hide their bigotry and intolerance in the shadows and behind their Bibles, Torahs, or Korans.