The May-June issue of LOCAL Community News ran an unsigned “Talk Local” editorial titled “Religious Test?” After reading the short commentary I felt a differing viewpoint necessary. The editorial states because the “Constitution guarantees the right of free exercise of religion” this somehow repudiates Chick-fil-A’s banishment at the San Antonio International Airport by City Council (twice) due to its past (and ongoing) anti-LGBTQ endorsements and for being closed on Sundays.
The editorial goes on to say, “Let customers decide whether the eatery thrives. Opening a business on a public property should not be subject to a government religious test.” A quick Google search shows there are over 20 Chick-fil-A’s in the San Antonio metro area. They seem to be doing just fine. Why don’t we have a Hooters at the airport? Why not a gentleman’s strip club in Hemisfair? A dog-racing track inside the Alamodome? Perhaps a biker bar on Alamo Plaza would be a welcome venue? No?
Could it be because the city has a right and an obligation to pick and choose carefully what venues it endorses on city property? We elect our council members to do exactly that. First they voted 6 to 4 on March 21 (with one abstaining vote) to deny Chick-fil-A, for the reasons stated above, the right to operate on city property.
Then on April 11 they denied then-mayoral candidate Greg Brockhouse’s request to re-vote on the issue, 6 to 5. Brockhouse was the District 6 councilman at the time.
You may 100 percent disagree or 100 percent agree with this decision, but this is the way the law is set up to operate concerning city owned property.
As we all know it was an election season. There are many hot-button issues that get more than their fair share of press coverage. Somehow a fast-food chicken restaurant has become a test for religious freedom. How? Why? Do people go there to pray, find salvation, atone for their sins? Supposedly this is what churches, synagogues and mosques are for. Somehow it’s acceptable now to pass a law in Texas forbidding any contractor from boycotting Israel, for whatever reason, but perfectly permissible to grant anyone who says their “religious freedom” has been provoked the right to not rent you an apartment, bake you a cake or simply deny you medical treatment.
Where does it end? A Muslim can deny a Jew service in his restaurant? A Catholic can dislodge a sheik from his hotel because he doesn’t like his turban? And now somehow the LGBTQ community of taxpaying American citizens and their supporters are to suddenly be silenced in order to appease another segment of society’s comfort zone surrounding their individual “religious freedom” discernments?
As tired and shopworn as the cliché states, the merits of its straightforward urgency have never been more essential than today – “Can’t we all just get along people?”