Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Lester Maddox & Religious Freedom
I made this image to help remind folks that this discussion we are having right now across the country is very similar to the 'property rights' discussion that took place after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It wasn't very popular because it forced business owners to go against certain strongly held cultural beliefs. Lester Maddox, a pro-segregationist owner of the Pickrick was the poster child of the property rights backlash movement. The general argument was, as a private property owner, the government had no say in who he allowed to patron his business. Sound familiar?
Today certain people are making the same claims, but instead of clinging to property rights, they are latching on to religious freedom. They should have the right to refuse the patronage of people who don't agree with their religious beliefs. Sounds simple right? How do you prove someone doesn't share your religious beliefs? In the case of LGBT customers it might be easier to differentiate, but what about an educated atheist? I know many that can qoute religious texts better than the people who claim to follow the particular faiths. What about a Methodist wanting to enter a coffee shop of a Seventh Day Adventist? Is the owner going to start to keep lists of customers and religious persuasions?
Do we start questioning everyone that enters a business or just the people we get 'the feeling' from? You know what I mean. That unsavory person that doesn't fit in. The late Harold Ramis might have used that tagline from Caddyshack: "some people just don't belong". That's really what this whole discussion taking place now in the United States is really about. Anyone who tells you otherwise is just fooling themselves.
Here's a real picture of Lester Maddox closing his restaurant with the list of all the types of people he would refuse to serve.