Are any protest groups thinking of organizing outside of this ridiculous spectacle? There should be some sort of civil disobedience, with police crackdowns and arrests. Maybe then the lazy-ass media in this country will finally take notice of what's happening.
Sorry, but if you're going to go there, I'd say that the Bible has pretty stiff competition with the Illead and Odyssey. Hell, Plato's Republic mirrors many Christian teachings and was written 500 years before the New Testament. You should check out the Myth of Ur chapter, it's quite informative.
I agree that this would be a Pyrrhic victory, but we shouldn't forget that the "under God" language was deliberately placed into the Pledge to exclude people. I believe that the "under God" language was inserted as an attempt to out "godless commies," who in theory wouldn't be able to recite that part of the Pledge (if anyone knows the legislative history any better, feel free to correct me). Even as the communist "threat" has abated, it can still be used to call unwanted attention to people who do not believe in God. In that way, the language is very much having its intended effect.
That's a good point, though I guess I interpret the deletion of the "prospective employee" language as the deletion of surplusage, since prospective employees are defined as "employees" for purposes of the bill, and so I feel like deletion of that language would really have no effect. From various experiences, though, I understand that it is very difficult for a person who applies for a job, as opposed to someone who has a job, to establish discrimination in hiring. So, I don't believe that whatever the bill actually purports to do would prevent employers from actually discriminating against such religious objectors, provided that they could base their refusal to hire on some other reason.
What would solve a lot of the issues that many on this board have brought up is if professional licenses were granted on pain of non-discrimination. That way, it would seem pretty likely that discrimination would violate an essential function of most businessses dealing with emergency health care issues, since employees who did discriminate would lose their licenses and the employer would not be able to conduct business. Unfortunately, some states seem to be moving against that ideal (including my home state of WI, sadly). I don't feel that the bill we've been discussing has that much independent force - it will neither prohibit discrimination that employers currently fail to curb, nor really promote discrimination. It really doesn't change the status quo that much in my opinion, and that's the reason it doesn't piss me off as much as some people here. To eliminate the threat that we all recognize - the threat of fundies dictating our lifestyles to us - we will either have to stop the current movements in the states or require the federal government to regulate licensing.
First of all, as I read the bill, an employer would be required to make accommodations to the extent that a person's religious viewpoint conflicted with on-the-job duties. The bill does not say that an employer has to accommodate a person's beliefs even if they do not conflict with job duties, so I don't see where you're getting the idea that an employer would have to accommodate discriminatory epithets or proselytization over the lunch break, since I doubt such actions would be job-related and, in any event, since productivity is an actual element within the statute, I feel like an employer who fired an employee who was actively antagonistic to other employees would have a pretty strong case. But, feel free to explain your straw men if you wish.
To the extent that there are actual job-related duties that conflict with the religious beliefs of the hateful/ignorant crowd, the employer has a couple of options. The first and best option would be for the employer to probe potential employees about their beliefs up front. That way, the potential employee, if hired, will be removed from a position in which s/he can espouse discriminatory beliefs. The employer may also make a good faith effort to resolve the conflict, then fire the person. The employer may determine that the duty is an essential function, and fire the person. Or, the employer can find someone else to do the job and make the bigot do something else.
None of these cases involve screwing the customer, though, provided that the duties are known by employer and employee during the hire process. I mean, pharmacists generally know that they may be called upon to fill an order for birth control medication, this isn't some wildly fluid profession we're talking about here. Therefore, an employer can ask potential employees whether or not they would be comfortable doing that. If they say yes, and then the boss later finds out that the employee engaged in discrimination, that employee can be fired for being a liar. Nothing in this bill prevents an employer from firing an insubordinate employee. Even in cases where job duties are more fluid and an employee objects to a duty on the spot, the employer is still only required to make a good faith effort at resolving the conflict, and then may fire the employee if it doesn't work out. What this statute really requires is for employers to thoroughly discuss job duties with potential employees, so that they aren't screwed by a lot of pissed off customers when one of the employees goes crazy Christian on them. So long as the hiring managers are somewhat intelligent, I don't see where the problem lies.
The employer would protect the customer by removing the objectionable duty from the employee's tasks and giving it to another employee that didn't object. Employees aren't empowered by this bill to do "anything they want to"; they are allowed to perform other tasks than those that they object to without retaliatory termination. Regardless of whether or not religious objectors should be protected in this way, the customers will not be harmed.
I think you're missing my point, which is that the statute does not speak to the situation in which an employee 1) tells an employer that s/he will perform a specified duty, and 2) then decides not to perform that duty allegedly due to a religious objection, without first alerting the employer to said objection. Therefore, an employer can still fire the employees for their insubordination. You are trying to turn the bill's silence into a prohibition on the part of employers to fire insubordinate employees. Whatever is not prohibited is permitted, as you so aptly note.
Contrary to your assertion that this bill gives employees free reign to discriminate, I would argue that it actually protects customers while allowing people with religious objections to remain employed to the extent that they remain employable. To get protection under this bill, an employee would have to come to the employer and tell the employer that one of the employee's duties might require the employee to discriminate on religious grounds. To prevent such discrimination, the employer will then presumably give the objectionable duty to someone else. The end result of this process is that fewer customers will be discriminated against, which I think we would all agree is a good thing. Since these employees would be removed from positions in which they could exercise their discriminatory beliefs, I fail to see how the bill would encourage discrimination.
I'm not sure of the economic impact of this bill, though it's possible that you're right on that score. In places where there are many religious objectors, someone who owns a pharmacy might have a problem staffing the store with people who didn't object to selling birth control. However, that presumably would be true with or without this bill - while some potential employees would conform their conduct to the employers' wishes, I imagine that true believers would object regardless of whether or not they would be fired for it (God's law is higher than man's). So, I don't know how much this bill would compound an already existing problem. I assume that such questions would come up during the job hire process, and that employers would generally choose people that didn't object to such medications, assuming all other qualifications were equal.
, I would argue that the bill protects potentially bigoted/hateful individuals' ability to retain positions
If you can tell me where in the language of this bill it states that an employee can suddenly refuse to perform a duty that they have agreed to peform, and then either during or after the fact claim that this was due to religion and suffer no adverse employment consequences as a result, please let me know. Don't you think a much more logical reading of this bill is that the employee has to declare any possible objections to a certain job duty before the employee is called upon to perform that duty? I really think you're conflating two issues: the right to object to the performance of certain job functions generally and to have the employer accomodate these wishes, and the sudden refusal to perform job functions that one has previously agreed to. This bill doesn't protect cases that fall in the latter category, in my opinion. Whackos that didn't follow through on their assigned duties without first requesting an accommodation could rightly be punished for not bringing their objections to their employers' attention in a timely manner. At least, I don't read the bill as prohibiting that.
I don't entirely understand your question about the penalties for pharmacists. The bill is aimed at employment practices, and so non-management employees are not really subject to it. If you're asking whether someone can't perform an essential function of the job because of religious reasons, then of course that person can still be legally fired or otherwise disciplined. I don't know what would happen on their pharmacist license status; that may differ from state to state.
As far as housing is concerned, I'm sad to say that you are at least partially mistaken. The federal Fair Housing Act, which bars discrimination in housing, only applies to complexes that have more than 5 rooms to rent (I believe). States such as Massachusetts additionally have found that religious rights under the state constitution permit landlords to discriminate on the basis of religion (though they would still have to comply with the FHA if they met the statutory requirements).
I really don't see what all the uproar is about here, and this is coming from an atheist who is very uncomfortable with the current level of separation between church and state in this country. If we're going to criticize this bill, we need to figure out first how it will work in practice.
In my mind, what will likely happen is that employers will tell potential employees what their job duties will be, including any duties that the employer perceives is of a sensitive nature to people of some faiths. The employer will ask up front, either at the hiring stage or immediately thereafter, if the employee is uncomfortable with performing some of these duties. If so, and the employer does not feel that the duty is an essential function (or doesn't want to hash it out in court), somebody else will be called upon to do that duty. If the employee doesn't speak up, later refuses to perform a duty, and is punished as a result, the company may have a defense that the employee's assertion of religious objection was not sincere (particularly if they had performed similar duties in the past). Some of the posters here seem to be equating an employee's refusal to perform a certain function with the employer's total refusal to perform that function (i.e., a police officer's request to protect an abortion clinic - the police department can assign somebody else to do it and the clinic will still be protected). The only thing that the bill really does is make employers have a greater gatekeeper role over their employees and possibly require the hiring of additional employees to perform work the religious dissenters object to. I don't read the bill as authorizing employees to refuse to perform their duties with impunity, then after the fact claim that it was because of their religion.
As the diary also noted, the text of this bill is fairly open ended and many of the supposed horribles that would arise from this bill could be addressed by the courts through interpretation of the essential functions test. While none of us know exactly how that clause would be interpreted by a given court, there are strong arguments that most if not all of the listed ACLU cases involve essential functions, and punishment was therefore justified.
This bill makes it harder for an employer to fire individuals who object to certain job duties, but it doesn't necessarily reduce the services that the employer performs. In fact, perhaps someone harmed by the employer's failure to provide an essential service because of such an objector could sue the employer for a lack of diligence in discovering the source of contention (and maybe an employer SHOULD be held liable for its failure to find out if its employees are religious whackos). The bill does not speak to when an employee must notify the employer that a job duty is objectionable, and so I would argue that terminating an employee for his/her sudden objection to a reasonably foreseeable job duty, and/or one which the employee had performed in the past (such as inducing emergency labor), may still be possible after its passage.