Just got this from my Aunt in Tucson who is following the whole Right to Discriminate law with great interest and disgust. It was written by Rabbi Stephen Kahn, of Scottsdale’s Congregation Beth Israel.
The Honorable Janice K. Brewer
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Dear Governor Brewer:
I am the Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel, founded in 1920. I write this with a heavy heart on behalf of our 750 families (roughly 2,000 members). Today, I respectfully implore you to act with bold and courageous leadership by vetoing House Bill 2153 and Senate Bill 1062 without delay.
Simply put, these bills are beyond “controversial”. Among many things, the final version of the legislation enables a business owner to refuse services to any patron based on their own personal religious proclivities, or even worse, a very loose definition of religious freedom. I cannot help but recall the spirit of the Third Reich’s laws established in 1935 at Nuremberg which legally permitted discrimination and anti-Semitism under the same implicit legislative construct as the bills passed earlier this week. As a Jew, I cannot help but feel that if a business owner, who is “informed” by their interpretation of “scripture” that a Jewish person cannot eat at their restaurant because I do not accept Christ as “Savior” that they would indeed have the legally supported permission to deny me service in their place of business.
As an American, I will always fully support the constitutionally protected rights of every citizen; the right of free expression of their own religious beliefs and convictions whether or not I personally/theologically agree with their beliefs or practices. However, as an American, a Jew and a Rabbi, I know that religious freedom does not permit me the right to oppress or discriminate against others because I think their theology or way of life is wrong. This is the antithesis of constitutional freedoms and the foundation of our country. The potential – both implicitly and explicitly – of legalizing a person or person’s right to persecute and discriminate against others under the guise of religious freedom is both intellectually objectionable and theologically corrupt of any scriptural justification I know of, especially in a free society.
Please do no sign this legislation which – based on historic precedent for our people in 1930’s Nazi Germany – could become THE seminal moment which will lead to horrifying consequences for the People of Arizona.
Rabbi Stephen Kahn