January 28

Religious freedom bill puts burden on state


Should government be allowed to force people into doing things against their religious principles?

Consider New Mexico photographer Elaine Huguenin’s situation. In 2006, she declined to photograph a lesbian commitment ceremony, citing her Biblical beliefs. The couple sued. It seems they felt compelled to push their viewpoint upon Huguenin, despite her deeply held convictions. Huguenin has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear her challenge to the law.

Was the photographer’s inaction discrimination? Perhaps, but perhaps not. What of the photographer’s rights? Doesn’t she have the right to religious freedom, to follow her religion and its teachings?

As the saying goes, one person’s rights end where another’s begins.

One option was that the couple employ a different photographer, taking their money and business elsewhere. Huguenin’s religious rights still would be protected, and the couple still records their event. This would have been the least restrictive solution.

Despite First Amendment confirmation of religious freedom, individuals must secure their religious rights in the courtroom. The burden of proof, however, should be upon the prosecutor, not the defendant. In other words, a state’s action should not burden exercise of religion upon an individual without a compelling interest.

Let’s put a little different spin on it. What if a pro-life photographer refused a contract to record a partial-birth abortion? Should the photographer be mandated into the contract? I think most people would say no. Well, the principle is identical in Huguenin’s situation.

The purpose of L.D. 1428 is to place the burden of proof upon the state, to prove its action is essential to a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest. It will help anyone to freely exercise their religion, whatever that religion may be.

I urge others to contact their senator and representative to show their support.

Greg PaquetSmithfield
Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Further Discussion

Here at KJonline.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)