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The prospect of religious exemptions in the marketplace | Hunter of Justice

The prospect of religious exemptions in the marketplace

by on May 22, 2009  •  In Religion

Bill Araiza (Brooklyn Law) has begun an interesting conversation at PrawfsBlawg about the impact of allowing commercial enterprises, or the people who work there, to refuse to provide services or equal treatment to someone because of an objection based on conscience or religion.  He hypothesizes:

…[I]t hit me in a personal way yesterday when, to relieve the tedium of grading, I went to talk to my TIAA-Cref representative (a bad-news-for-bad-news trade if there ever was one).  We had not met before, as it was my first meeting with a rep based in New York.  Early on in the discussion he asked me for whom I was doing retirement saving — i.e., who was going to rely on my money.  I did my normal split-second assessment and decided to come out and refer to my partner as my husband.  It worked out fine: the rep was perfectly appropriate and we had a good meeting.

But what if he had objected?  What if he had said, "I'm sorry but I can't in good conscience give you financial planning advice designed to take full advantage of your legal and lifestyle status, both of which I disapprove.  If I were to do so I would be acting to promote a relationship I consider immoral and would be a party to the perversion of the concept of marriage."  Could he do that?  Should he be allowed?

Bill's post drew this comment from a reader:

,,,This brings to mind a drivers' ed. instructor I once had. He spent our drive together proselytizing to me. A friend had the same experience. Our parents called the head of the driving school and explained that it was inappropriate for the instructor, who was grading us, to hold us (Orthodox Jewish children) captive to his attempts at religious indoctrination. The owner of the company immediately agreed and spoke with the instructor. The instructor informed him that he had a religious duty to proselytize and wouldn't stop. The owner fired him. All in all, I'm fairly convinced that justice was served here all around. The instructor got to live by his principles, and he also faced appropriate market sanction for them; and the next batch of 16 year olds didn't suffer the same treatment.

One can imagine an almost endless set of scenarios in which, if the law established a religious exemption for ordinary businesses, no "appropriate market sanction" would be possible. Enacting an exemption this broad would set a terrible precedent.

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One Response to The prospect of religious exemptions in the marketplace

  1. eve isk June 29, 2009 at 11:32 PM

    One can imagine an almost endless set of scenarios in which, if the law established a religious exemption for ordinary businesses, no “appropriate market sanction” would be possible. Enacting an exemption this broad would set a terrible precedent.

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