Religious freedom at whose expense?

Published June 2, 2015

by Ada Fisher, Republican National Committeewoman, published in Salisbury Post, June 2, 2015.

Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina vetoed the legislation passed to grant religious freedom to state employees or those acting on its behalf who were asked to do things in conflict with their religion or religious conscience.  Though it is true that there is a move to suppress Christian doctrines which don’t conform to many secular values, letting individuals interpret such mandates at their own discretion and run rough shod over those who in compliance with existing laws chose to act in other ways likewise goes against freedom of their religion.

I remember when Howard Johnson’s refused to serve blacks or my parsonage home was flooded with a litany of distinguished black visitors who could not gain quarters at any sleeping facility in the area of Durham, or when black clientele were forced to the balcony of movie theaters.  To this day I don’t patronize many of these facilities. Those who work for the government or benefit from the government’s largesse should not be given the authority to pick and choose whom they will serve when those seeking services are operating within the confines of the law.  This is a major problem not unlike the times imposed by segregation.

As a physician, I remember painfully the anesthesiologist called to help with a female patient who needed a C-section.  The nurse anesthetist told her that because the patient was an unwed mother of two other children, she would put her to sleep only if she agreed to have her tubes tied, as she had enough children. Though I might agree with her sentiment on having more children than one can care for,  it is not the place of professional health providers to dictate how many babies someone may have in unwed circumstances or otherwise. Women should not have their personal decisions with their doctors second-guessed on whether to use birth control or take RU-40 (the morning-after pill which has too many side effects to be given over the counter) by pharmacists or legislators with religious objections to their personal choices and behavior.  This is just wrong.  The doctor-patient relationship operating within the bounds of the law should be sacrosanct to personal health.

Under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibitions on “the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech . . .” are clear.  By the same token when ministers follow the scriptural dictates of their religion advocating prohibiting same sex marriage or acts deemed sinful to them, government should have no right under the First Amendment to say what different religions can say or do under the law, such as refuse to perform marriage ceremonies as long as they aren’t using or handling federal funds.  The same should go for private enterprises that do not take federal funds.   If they can withstand the pressure to their bottom line, so be it;  remember Chic-fil-A has opposed gay unions and isn’t open on Sundays.  It is now a top fast-food draw, surpassing McDonalds.

In a democratic society of liberty and freedom, people should be free to worship and serve their God as they like as long as it doesn’t  impinge on others doing the same.

Dr. Ada M. Fisher is the NC Republican National Committeewoman. Her book “Common Sense Conservative Prescriptions: Solutions Good for What Ails Us” is available through Email:

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