In Carson City Nevada the Conservatives are pushing a bill, SB 192, entitled, “The Nevada Preservation of Religious Freedom Act.” This act states:
“Exercise of Religion’ means the ability to act or to refuse to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.”
“A government entity shall not substantially burden the exercise of religion of a person regardless of whether the burden is the result of a rule of general applicability.”
“A government entity may substantially burden the exercise of religion only if the government entity demonstrates that the burden as applied to persons: Furthers a compelling government interest, and is the least restrictive means of furthering that government interest.”
The bill is clear. All a person has to do in this act is claim that his actions are motivated by religion as he understands it. It does not have to be motivated by “A larger system of religious belief.”
In the case of Peyote, Native Americans could use this bill to argue they have the right to smoke the stuff. Also, in the case of marijuana, all a person would have to do is argue that his smoking the stuff has religious motivation. He does not have to point to “a larger system of religious belief.” The same could be used in the case of any hallucinatory drugs.
In the ‘60s, conservative southern states used bills such as SB 192 to justify business interests to not serve people of African American Heritage at their establishments. Their system of religious beliefs justified government non-intervention.
We see the same type of thing in relation to SB 192. If an employer wanted to prevent its employees from having children, nothing in this law would prevent them from requiring employees to use contraception, use morning after pills or have abortions. If their employees had no children, they would have less reason to use sick days, to care for sick children, there would be no need for FMLA leave to have children in the first place, and so on. Employers do have a reason to do this. This bill is for protecting the rights of established people, not the masses.
The main purpose of this bill is to preserve conservative business interests, in particular as it relates to the abortion and birth control issues. The question is, does it? The bill must compel a government interest. What is the government interest?
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men.
They key question in the great abortion debate is the definition of life.
The same must be said of life. The name is given from a certain external appearance, namely, self-movement, yet not precisely to signify this, but rather a substance to which self-movement and the application of itself to any kind of operation, belong naturally. To live, accordingly, is nothing else than to exist in this or that nature. Summa Theologica Part 1Question 18, article 2
The Philosopher, Aristotle, in De Anima ii, 13), distinguishes four kinds of life, namely, nourishment, sensation, local movement and understanding. Arisotle says (Ethic. ix, 9) that to live is to sense or to understand, in other words, to have a nature capable of sensation or understanding. Summa Theologica Part 1Question 18, article 2
The more perfect is their sense, the more perfect is their self-movement power. Such animals as move themselves in respect to an end they themselves propose are superior to these. This is only done by reason & intellect; whose province it is to know the proportion between the end & the means to that end, & duly coordinate them. Summa Theologica Part 1Question 18, article 3
Life means two things in the great birth control, abortion debate. First, it means life at its most basic, self-movement, life in the womb. It also means life in the sense Aristotle argues for human life, life lived in its fullest, to sense, to understand, to live in the grander sense of the word “living, to smell the roses, to savor a nice meal, to see the world, to hear the vibrant sounds of the world around us.”
The government interest is promoting life, and this is where liberals separate from conservatives. The government could, and would, argue it is promoting life for the mother, through what liberals would argue is the push for reasonable access to birth control. In this sense, SB 192 does not accomplish what it sets out to do. In the name of promoting business interests, which is the only real goal of this bill, it allows for rampant drug use and opens the Pandora’s box of who knows what ills.
Again, the purpose of government is: To form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.
What we need is a bill that addresses exactly what we mean by life, in conformity with the founding documents of our nation, including the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to our Constitution. We need to form a more perfect union/communion.
We need to address for the first time in my nearly 60 year lifetime, that both conservatives and liberals are Americans. We are a nation, a people born together, by common heritage, if not race, color, creed, national origin, et cetera.
We need to foster bills that promote life, not allow for the established groups to deprive others of life under the cloak of religious conviction. We need to insure domestic tranquility, and that means listening to the real needs and concerns of the other side, for the first time in over 60 years.
We need to promote the general welfare, not the welfare of the established people, which is what SB 192 is all about. We need to secure the blessings of liberty for all Americans, not just the established business owners. The proponents of SB 192 need to go back to the drawing board and start over; this bill is not the right bill.