Why, when so many other news sources accurately described Senate Bill 180, did the Herald-Leader manage to bungle its coverage of this bill so badly?
SB 180 will, in certain very limited circumstances, stop anti-religious bullying. In its March 1 editorial, readers were told that the bill was designed to “overturn local ordinances” that ostensibly protect gays from discrimination, and portrayed it as applicable to any and all situations in which a Christian business is serving customers.
You would really have had to work up a sweat for a mischaracterization that bad.
SB 180, approved by the Senate last week, targets the protection of religious business owners carefully and limits these protections solely to services that involve the service provider personally in the event for which the service is provided. This would cover only a very small number of cases.
This bill has nothing to do with a waiter serving a meal at a restaurant, or a cashier at Wal-Mart, or a Realtor selling a house, as news coverage implied. All it does is stop the increasingly aggressive bullying of people of faith who would be forced to provide a service that would directly involve them in an activity that violates their religious convictions.
The bill’s limited coverage is outlined very carefully and very clearly. It doesn’t require any specialized legal knowledge to interpret. Even people with journalism degrees could figure it out.
It is disappointing to see a once-great media institution acting as a mouthpiece for groups which, while they claim to be opposed to discrimination, are instead promoting anti-religious hatred and encouraging the bullying of people who are minding their own business and simply trying to do the right thing according to their religious beliefs.
SB 180 would provide a small safe space for religious people whose livelihoods are increasingly being threatened by those who preach tolerance, but who seem to have very little idea about how to practice it themselves.
We realize that the Herald-Leader has a long tradition of grinding ideological axes, particularly when it comes to social issues. But even ideological axe-grinding doesn’t excuse it from being complete in its factual assertions.
Martin Cothran is the senior policy analyst of the Family Foundation.
At issue: March 1 Herald-Leader editorial, “Liberty for all, in religion and in commerce”