The protection of religious liberties has become a tool of convenience that is being used as a smoke screen for the passage of bills that legalize discrimination and exclusion. Religious liberties extend far beyond our ability to worship freely and make moral decisions in our daily life. Religious liberties also encompasses the ability to contribute to the common good of all Americans irrespective of their persuasion. HB2 neither contributes to nor is reflective of this common goal.
HB2 is not about the use of bathrooms. It’s about the abuse of power and deception. It’s about a group of elected representatives using their power to enact laws that are discriminatory, retaliatory and favor granting. It’s about a group of elected representatives who enact laws that send a “we’re in charge” message to cities, towns, boards and individuals who dare to dance to a different tune. We only have to look in our backyard for a clear example of how this game is displayed. When a Nash County Commissioner, apparently hell-bent on splitting the school system along county lines, could not get his way he ran to a local State House Representative to do him the favor of sponsoring a bill to split the school system. Having failed to get the bill introduced on the first try this representative will no doubt try again. Like HB2, the reason given for the split is not the reason. This is the kind of favor granting and mean spiritedness that is coming from people who would have me believe that they are working for the common good yet they freely defy the basic principles that form the foundation of religion.
What does eliminating discrimination cases from being heard in state courts have to do with using a bathroom? What does preventing cities from requiring contractors who work for them to pay a living wage to their employees have to do with religious liberties? One would be hard pressed to find religious semblance of any kind embodied in these laws. HB2 is not unlike so many other bills that have come out of the N.C. House in Raleigh that discriminate, exclude and elude humaneness. The denial of health care to the uninsured, restricting voter rights, reducing unemployment benefits in economically depressed times, diverting public education funding to private schools and giving tax breaks that favor the rich are but a few of the laws that contribute to a lack of moral persuasion. It is hypocrisy personified to present a holier than thou persona when it comes to protecting religious liberties on one hand while on the other hand supporting legislation that gives the appearance of being inspired by the Devil, tears down the human spirit and erodes the quality of life.
For years I have wondered why the south is often referred to as “the Bible Belt” when the Devil works overtime and racism and bigotry flows like a mighty river. I am in no way a biblical scholar but I do know that there are basic religious principles that each of us should adhere to in our daily life if we profess to be religious. Unfortunately, these basic principles are being trampled on by those who have pledged to work for the common good. So, pardon me if I take the hysteria about protecting religious liberties with a grain of salt. From my perspective, actions speak louder than words.
HB2 is no more about the use of bathrooms than splitting the school system along county lines is about funding. It’s about the abuse of power and deception. DaShanne Stokes hit the nail on the head when he said, “When we hide discrimination under the guise of religious freedom, we make a mockery of human rights.”
Gardenia B. Hobbs