Okay, here is what I have decided to do: I will convert my home in Houston-area suburbia into a temple to Zeus. In the Houston area, developers are unburdened by zoning rules, so there should be no problem along those lines. Still, I can anticipate that some of my stodgier neighbors and the nosy types of the HOA will have some complaints. Proper worship of Zeus will require regular sacrifices of live animals. This will necessitate quite a bit of livestock in my yard, with a lot of mooing and bleating day and night. Manure removal could be a problem. Probably, though, the most complaints will be about the large volume of greasy smoke that will result from burning the sacrifices. I might even get some EPA types down my neck saying that I am violating air quality standards. Damned bureaucrats. Anyway, I have a ready answer for any such carpers and busybodies: I am exercising my religious freedom. I have a sacred right, protected by the First Amendment, to the free exercise of religion. Offering sacrifices to Zeus would be an expression of sincerely held religious beliefs, and that should trump any local ordinances, state laws, or federal regulations. Period.
Sound farfetched? Not really when you consider that a number of states, under the guise of “religious freedom laws” are doing things even more offensive. The city of Charlotte, North Carolina passed an ordinance outlawing discrimination against a number of groups, including LGBT people. However, the governor of North Carolina Pat McCrory signed into law one such “religious freedom” bill that voided the Charlotte ordinance and disallowed local governments from establishing such anti-discrimination requirements:
The State of Mississippi is considering what has been called the worst of such laws:
This bill would permit and protect from punishment business and religious groups to deny services to those whom they disapprove of on religious grounds. It also would protect state officials who hold that marriage is only between one man and one woman from issuing marriage licenses to any other sort of couple. (Supreme Court be damned!)
Georgia’s governor, Nathan “Big” Deal, in about the only sensible thing he has done in two terms of office, vetoed such legislation passed by the Georgia State Legislature, prompting hysterical denunciations from the bill’s supporters:
Honestly, if it is OK to invoke religious freedom to justify discrimination against whole groups of citizens, then it just does not seem fair for me not to be allowed to turn my house into an abattoir in honor of Zeus. Clearly, for the legislators of Georgia, North Carolina, and Mississippi, protecting the “religious freedom” of some is more important than protecting other citizens from gross discrimination. Really, if practicing hate is to be a protected religious freedom, then how can anybody object to a little smoke from my Zeus temple?