L.D. 1428, titled “An Act to Protect Religious Freedom,” is a bill to be considered in the coming months that would allow individuals and organizations to sue the government if they believe their sincerely held religious beliefs have been infringed.

In essence, the bill is a license for people to enjoy special privileges based upon their chosen religion. It would allow them to circumvent laws the rest us must obey. As Ali Vander Zanden of EqualityMaine said, “It’s a harmful solution to a nonexistent problem.”

L.D. 1428 goes beyond the protections of the First Amendment. To put it into real terms, a Christian landlord could evict a tenant simply for being gay. A Muslim business owner could refuse services to a customer for being Catholic. A Mormon city hall clerk adhering to original church doctrine could refuse to marry a mixed race couple.

Our great nation and our great state both embrace the principle of religious freedom. Neither set out to embrace special religious rights. L.D. 1428, sponsored by Sen. David Burns, R-Whiting, is not only an unnecessary bill, it’s a downright assault on the freedoms and liberties guaranteed to us by the U.S. and Maine constitutions.

As citizens of one of the least religious states in the union, Atheists of Maine stands firmly against any attempt to undermine the separation of church and state that is so essential to our great democracy.

Michael Hawkins Hallowell