I wish I were making this up. Long-time readers know that I am an economic libertarian. I was planning on voting for Libertarian party candidate Gary Johnson. No longer. Johnson has a long history of left-wing activism on various social issues (he is virulently pro abortion and pro drug use and pro gay marriage). I was willing to forgive all that because the other choices are Hillary and Trump. No longer.
UPDATE FROM JOHNSON CAMPAIGN: THE CANDIDATE RESPONDED TO HIS COMMENTS, AND YOU CAN READ HIS RESPONSE HERE.
Please read this.
—-ON RELIGIOUS LIBERTY—-
Do you think New Mexico was right to fine the photographer for not photographing the gay wedding?
(Johnson)”Look. Here’s the issue. You’ve narrowly defined this. But if we allow for discrimination — if we pass a law that allows for discrimination on the basis of religion — literally, we’re gonna open up a can of worms when it come stop discrimination of all forms, starting with Muslims … who knows. You’re narrowly looking at a situation where if you broaden that, I just tell you — on the basis of religious freedom, being able to discriminate — something that is currently not allowed — discrimination will exist in places we never dreamed of.”
Can the current federal RFRA be applied to protect things like the wedding photographer and the Little Sisters of the Poor?
(Johnson)”The problem is I don’t think you can cut out a little chunk there. I think what you’re going to end up doing is open up a plethora of discrimination that you never believed could exist. And it’ll start with Muslims.”
In a year when conservatives are being turned off by Donald Trump, do you worry that you’re turning off conservatives who might come to the Libertarian Party?
(Johnson)”It’s the right message, and I’m sideways with the Libertarian Party on this. My crystal ball is that you are going to get discriminated against by somebody because it’s against their religion. Somehow you have offended their religion because you’ve walked in and you’re denied service. You.”
You think it’s the federal government’s job to prevent—
In all cases?
(Johnson)”Yes, yes, in all cases. Yes. And you’re using an example that seems to go outside the bounds of common sense. But man, now you’re back to public policy. And it’s kind of like the death penalty. Do I favor the death penalty. Theoretically I do, but when you realize that there’s a 4 percent error rate, you end up putting guilty people to death. I think this is analogous to hate crime. Convict me on the act of throwing a rock through somebody’s window. But if you’re going to convict me on my motivation for doing that, now you’re back to religious freedom. I mean under the guise of religious freedom, anybody can do anything. Back to Mormonism. Why shouldn’t somebody be able to shoot somebody else because their freedom of religion says that God has spoken to them and that they can shoot somebody dead.”
That doesn’t seem like the distinction that a libertarian typically makes. Shooting is an initiation of force, versus deciding what ceremonies to participate in.
(Johnson)”Well, they bring out this issue, which I realize it has happened. But the objective here is to say that discrimination is not allowed for by business …”
(Johnson)”I just see religious freedom, as a category, of just being a black hole.”
Folks, that is easily the most offensive thing any presidential candidate has ever said about Mormons. He really does seem to think that Mormons want a religious excuse to shoot people dead.
Religious liberty has been an easily understood and noncontroversial precept of the Republic since its founding. The first amendment made it that clear. Many well understood and accepted court cases have carved out exceptions for various religious practices. The Amish, for example, are exempt for the draft and don’t pay Social Security taxes. The Supreme Court has protected the religion of Santeria in Florida against laws intended to end that religious practice.
With the recent explosion of culture war cases intended to impinge on religious liberty, the Church has made is position clear:
“The religious community must unite to be sure we are not coerced or deterred into silence by . . . intimidation or threatening rhetoric”
(The above is from Elder Oaks here).
“Religious freedom is indeed under attack,” Elder Christofferson told an audience in the Marriott Center at Brigham Young University. “I am convinced that those who question the value or even the legitimacy of religious freedom do not understand that it is woven into the very soul of America. Religious participation in public life is not only part of American history and a constitutionally protected freedom, it’s also good for our nation. All laws and government policies are based on values — religious or otherwise.”
(The above is from Elder Christofferson’s talk just a few days ago.)
Gary Johnson has absolutely no understanding of religious liberty, and in fact he has a very shallow understanding of libertarianism. The vast majority of libertarians believe in “freedom of association,” which is implied by the Bill of Rights and means you and your business can associate with whomever you want. In my opinion, there is always a balancing act between freedom of association and religious liberty. For example, an anti-discrimination law that prevented discrimination on religious grounds because of public accommodation of scarce resources might make sense. So, if you were the owner of the only flower shop for 300 miles around and you didn’t want to sell your flowers for a gay wedding it may made sense for the government to compel you. But if your flower shop was one of 10 flower shops in a five-block radius, of course it makes no sense for the government to force you. Gary Johnson would compel you at gunpoint to sell to whoever he thinks is appropriate. (And by the way, Hillary and Trump probably would too).
At this point, I and many other Mormons are simply left without alternatives in this election. Hillary and Trump are too horrible to vote for, and Gary Johnson has just disqualified himself. It seems to me there are only four logical options: vote AGAINST the most reprehensible candidate (in my opinion, that is Hillary). Vote for another third party. (The Constitution party is at least in favor of religious liberty). Write in another candidate such as Ron Paul, the best presidential candidate in recent history. Or don’t vote for president at all.