To the editor:
I was disappointed to read of Lance Kinzer’s, R-Olathe, Preservation of Religious Freedom Act in the Journal-World on March 29. Rep. Barbara Ballard and others are correct to worry that this bill is antagonistic to Lawrence’s anti-discrimination ordinance; it opens the door to discriminate against others (e.g., those of the LGBT community) with impunity if this discrimination comes from conviction associated with one’s religious identity. This bill comes on the heels of similar measures (e.g., Michigan) that protect a child who bullies peers who are presumed to be gay, if the perpetrator is doing so out of religious conviction.
My disappointment turned into disgust when I flipped the page in the very same issue to read about Eva Edmands’ experiences with persecution in 1938 Vienna; it seems the 8-year-old Eva was bullied by her peers because of her faith. The Viennese children adopted adult norms and laws as their own. It was open season on Jews in a way that was protected because this hostility arose out of “deep moral conviction.”
Therein lies the danger. Ordinances of a community become norms of the community, and norms by definition normalize behavior and attitudes. People eventually come to adopt these attitudes as their own and perform these behaviors without conscious consideration.
State and city laws should normalize the acceptance of all of its residents. It is our duty to protect the vulnerable and speak out against rights violations. Thank you, Ms. Edmands, for taking this lesson to our local school children. Now, please take it to our state Capitol.