Should the government be deciding by what criteria people may associate with one another? From Laurcnce M. Vance at lewrockwell.com:
Should companies be able to discriminate against potential customers, and employers against possible employees, on the basis of religion?
The most recent Libertarian Party candidate for president and a Muslim woman both think not.
At the Libertarian Party presidential forum held in New York on March 29, 2015, and televised by Fox Business Network the following month, Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson maintained that although people should be allowed to discriminate for a variety of reasons, religious discrimination was something that should not be allowed. According to Johnson, being able to discriminate on the basis of religion is a “black hole”—whatever that is supposed to mean. Johnson not only insisted that bakers should be forced by the government to bake wedding cakes for homosexual couples, but also that Jewish bakers should be forced by the government to bake wedding cakes for Nazis.
More recently, there is the saga of Shahin Indorewala. She is the Muslim woman in Virginia who is suing a company that she claims refused to hire her after she requested two five-minute breaks to pray during her work shift.
At her second job interview with Fast Trak Management, Indorewala said that she was a Muslim and needed to pray five times a day. She asked whether take two five-minute breaks during the day in exchange for taking a shorter lunch break. She insits that her job interview was then immediately terminated. In her lawsuit filed in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, Indorewala claims that “the company CEO then mocked her religious headscarf and refused to hire her.” She was “hurt” and “embarrassed.” The CEO of the company, Ramses Gavilondo, said in an interview that he didn’t hire her because she “wanted to preach her religion.” He said the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigated and found no wrongdoing. “We ask people to keep religion to themselves,” Gavilondo said. One of her lawyers, who is with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that “the case represents a clear-cut example of religious discrimination and employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for sincerely held religious beliefs unless doing so would pose an unreasonable burden on the employer.”
The lawyer is right and the law is right. The case does represent a clear-cut example of religious discrimination. And employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for sincerely held religious beliefs unless doing so would pose an unreasonable burden on them.
But the lawyer and the law are so wrong. There is nothing inherently wrong with discriminating against someone on the basis of religion. Employers are required to do a lot of things that they shouldn’t be required to do. The government should neither try to prevent religious discrimination nor punish acts of religious discrimination.
Religious discrimination happens all the time and no one thinks anything of it.
A practicing Catholic will generally only want to marry someone of like faith. A devout Muslim will generally only want to marry someone of like faith. A pious Jew will generally only want to marry someone of like faith. A committed evangelical will generally only want to marry someone of like faith. They all discriminate on the basis on religion.
If they opt to avoid the public schools, Catholics will generally prefer Catholic schools, Muslims will generally prefer Muslim schools, Jews will generally prefer Jewish schools, and evangelicals will generally prefer evangelical schools. They all discriminate on the basis on religion.
Even when it comes to employment, religious discrimination not only happens all the time, it is accepted and expected. Baptist churches don’t hire Catholic priests. Muslim mosques don’t hire Methodist ministers. Catholic churches don’t hire Jewish rabbis. Episcopal churches don’t hire Baptist preachers. Presbyterian churches don’t hire Muslim imams. Jewish synagogues don’t hire Mormon elders. Liberal Protestant churches don’t hire conservative evangelicals. Unitarian Universalist churches don’t hire fundamentalist Christians. They all discriminate on the basis on religion.
So, the issue is not really religious discrimination. The issue is whether religious discrimination should be a concern of government if it is not rational, logical, or reasonable.
Three quick points.
First of all, who decides if the religious discrimination is rational or logical or reasonable? Why, the government, of course! And we all know how wise, intelligent, and judicious the government is.
Second, since religious discrimination—like all forms of discrimination—is not aggression, force, coercion, violence, or threat, then, as far as the law is concerned, the government should neither proscribe it nor seek to prevent it.
And third, to prohibit religious discrimination in employment is to infringe upon the free exercise of religion. Not being allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion is what should be frowned upon.
So, should Shahin Indorewala be allowed to take two five-minute breaks to pray during her work shift as she requested? In a free society, that is a matter entirely between her and her employer. Whether such a request is irrational, illogical, or unreasonable is entirely beside the point.