Tuesday, March 26, 2019

#TXLEGE: The wrong questions on Occupational Licenses and Religious Liberty

They said to Him, “Caesar’s.

And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.
Matthew 22:21

We made a similar point about a similar topic over the weekend, but it looks like the topic is here to stay.

From Yesterday:
Opening what promises to be one of the most contentious fights of the 2019 legislative session, a Senate committee on Monday approved a bill to give state-licensed professionals — including doctors, lawyers, pharmacists and barbers — broad protection for actions taken according to their religious beliefs.

Opponents said the bill, and more than a dozen similar measures that have not yet been acted upon, would give religious people, particularly conservative Christians, the power to discriminate against gay, lesbian and transgender people as well as anyone they don’t want to do business with or serve.

But supporters of Senate Bill 17 — including its Republican author, Sen. Charles Perry — said the protections are needed to ensure that licensing agencies do not discriminate against religious professionals by forcing them to do something that violates their beliefs.
That's fine.  Government licensing boards certainly should not abuse individual conscience rights.  In that sense, SB 17 is worthwhile.

But, let's get real: Is anybody surprised?!?

Occupational licensing, by government, is inherently political.  Period.  End of story.  For a political process to reflect political trends is completely predictable.

Even if you delineate some protections this session, as long as this licensing monstrosity remains in place, those protections are temporary at best.

In the spirit of permanent relief, the Institute for Justice offers something intriguing:

TL,DR version: Take these decisions out of the realm of politics, return them to the free market.

Bottom Line: Maybe it's time to start asking if we've been rendering too much to Caesar in the first place....

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