The Tennessee legislature just passed a law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that prohibits the state from “substantially burdening a person’s free exercise of religion.” I had no idea the State of Tennessee was placing burdens on my free exercise of religion. In fact, given the First Amendment to the US Constitution, I didn’t think the state could restrict my freedom of religion. But I am sure my legislators know best.
This certainly seems to have been the case in the great state of Texas, which passed a similarly worded bill and now has to repeal city ordinances that prohibit animal sacrifice within city limits. And the Washington D.C. fire department, adhering to a similar law effecting them, was forced to allow firefighters to grow beards if their religions demanded it despite the fact that facial hair erupts in a giant ball of fire when a bearded firefighter gets too close to open flames.
But then Tennessee isn’t Texas or D.C. We’ve also just passed a law that allows us to carry guns almost anywhere we want. For some of us guns and God go together, so I can see why the legislature went for both bills. Lots of us down here believe that God obligates us to kill the infidel and nonbeliever, so you can see where this is going to lead: “I asked him to convert before I shot him, Judge. It ain’t my fault he refused. I’m just practicing my religion.”
Of course the mainstream religions will probably be satisfied with sacrificing animals in public and having the faces of a few firefighters burned off. But there are other believers who should take advantage of this law. Sun worshippers, for example, should demand that nude dining at outdoor cafes be allowed during sunny daylight hours. And pastafarian followers of the Giant Spaghetti Monster should demand the outlawing of pasta eating as an affront to their faith. And Hindus might do the same for meat eating. They might even let their cows free in town, making it a violation of their religious freedom to have them rounded up.
But the real fun is going to come when someone realizes they can invent a new religion to take advantage of the law. Any thoughts on how we could exploit this marvelous piece of legislation?