Rick Santorum Brings Westboro Baptist Church into the Religious Freedom Debate

Neither religious business owners nor gay ones should provide services to people they disagree with, Santorum said.

Rick Santorum, former senator of Pennsylvania, speaks during a television interview outside the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

All analogies are not created equal. 

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum floated a new comparison on Sunday in the debate over the Religious Freedom Restoration Acts passed Indiana and Arkansas last week. 

"Tolerance is a two-way street," Santorum, a prospective 2016 presidential candidate, said on CBS's Face the Nation. "If you're a print shop and you are a gay man, should you be forced to print 'God hates fags' for the Westboro Baptist Church because they hold those signs up?"

That analogy strays from the comparison floated by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who compared the idea of forcing Christians to accept gay marriage to making Jewish deli owners serve non-Kosher foods. 

“It’s like asking someone who’s Jewish to start serving bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli,” Huckabee said. “We don’t want to do that — I mean, we’re not going to do that. Or like asking a Muslim to serve up something that is offensive to him, or to have dogs in his backyard.”

While both arguments are meant to justify RFRA laws that would, in theory, offer a legal defense to Christian business owners who would deny service to gay weddings, Santorum's parallel doesn't totally work, as a gay shop keeper refusing to print Westboro Baptist Church signs would not involve a specific religious justification, per se.  

Santorum also said that he was sorry to see Indiana bill changed. 

"I think the current language that the federal law is and now Indiana is  has been held pretty much to have a pretty limited view of what religious liberty, religious freedom, is in the workplace," he said. 

 

 

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