The trajectory of social and historical events in the United States has been toward increasing levels of acceptance of people of different ethnicities, religions, and most recently, sexual orientation.
Religion and scripture are unfortunately used by people to defend practices of prejudice, oppression and exclusion. Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, claimed that slavery was established by the decree of almighty God and sanctioned in the Bible by both Testaments from Genesis to Revelation.
Religion can also promote acceptance and inclusion. A seminal moment in the civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was when four African American students were refused service for sitting in white-only seats at the Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C.
The use of nonviolent sit-ins at businesses promoting segregation was a key strategy that led to the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This landmark legislation outlawed major forms of discrimination against racial, ethnic, national, religious minorities and women. Legislation proposed by state Sen. Sharon Brown to ensure the rights of business owners to exercise their religious or philosophical beliefs when doing business legalizes discrimination, violating the spirit of the Civil Rights Act, and serves as an obstacle to this country's trajectory of acceptance.
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MICKEY BEARY, Richland