5 Ways to Use Religious Freedom Laws for Good Rather Than Evil

The rash of “religious freedom” laws popping up around the country may have been designed as an underhanded excuse to permit discrimination against homosexuals, but they’re generally unspecific enough to allow for a variety of interpretations. With that in mind, if progressives can’t beat ‘em, why not join ‘em?

Joan Cheever is currently showing her home state of Texas another clever way that religious freedom laws can be utilized. Despite local ordinances that forbid her from feeding local homeless people, she’s continued to be charitable in this way anyway. When San Antonio police fined her $2,000, she argued that the police were trying to infringe on her right to feed needy people, which her religious faith compels her to do.

It’s an amazing argument and one that Texas might be forced to agree with given existing laws. Let’s use Cheever’s brilliant idea (which we’ll call #1) as an inspiration and combat four other progressive issues with the help of these religious freedom laws.

2. Assisting Undocumented Immigrants 

Normally, helping a non-citizen sneak across the United States border, providing him with housing or hiring him for a job could potentially get you charged with a felony. However, the religious freedom law just might give you a solid option to ignore existing immigration laws and help undocumented individuals looking for a better life. Look no further than Leviticus 19:33-34 for biblical support: “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.” Surely, having compassion for immigrants is the Christian thing to do.

3. Smoking Marijuana

The “legalize it” movement might want to switch its mantra to “worship it” in order to access recreational pot. By making smoking marijuana a ritual within your chosen religion, the state should have trouble objecting to this relatively harmless practice.

Sound too farfetched? Shockingly, it’s already a go in Indiana. The secretary of state quickly approved a petition from the First Church of Cannabis Inc. to grow hemp on its premises. Though marijuana is not legal even medically in the state, Indiana might have to take the issue to court if it wants to stop church-goers from smoking pot thanks to the religious freedom laws.

4. Preventing Overfishing

Since the Bible famously calls shellfish an abomination, that sounds like a decent justification for vegans and animal lovers to start blocking piers and freeing lobsters from traps. If God doesn’t want people eating these creatures, could you really blame a pious person from trying to prevent this from occurring?

Even people who like to eat fish can get in on this fight. Especially while overfishing threatens the oceans’ populations, it’d probably be best to keep them off of our dinner plates for the time being. By backing off and giving fish a chance to regrow their numbers, we’ll be helping to guarantee that seafood remains a dietary staple for the world for years to come.

5. Take a Stand Against Climate Change

Is belief in manmade climate change really a religion? Actually, as the New Republic points out, members of the Republican Party have tried to make that comparison. Since attacking the actual science is a losing game, several famous conservatives have labeled climate change an issue of “faith.” Even if environmentalists don’t normally consider their activism a form of religion, those in “religious freedom” states might want to accept the label. If a state’s lax pollution policies were to, say, infringe on an environmentalist’s religious beliefs, there could be a legal battle there that results in at least some concessions.

Admittedly, it’s a little absurd to use “religious freedom” as an excuse to ignore existing laws. Still, even if the goal is to get these laws off the books altogether, showing that two can play this game is a good tactic to make homophobes back off.  Until that time comes, what’s the harm in using the law’s loopholes to push some progressive agendas of our own?

Photo credit: Thinkstock




Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 years ago

I find these uses of our religion laws offensive. We have these laws for a reason. That reason is to keep the government out of our churches! Not to abuse them for political reasons.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran3 years ago


Timothy W.
Timothy W3 years ago

If it quacks like a Duck and walks like a Duck, it must be a Duck.

Pam is correct though, She did not directly name anyone. She was offering me words of encouragement the way I see it. She was referring to people who fulfill the descriptions she gave. If someone on this site calls me queer or something similar I accept it for what it is, and then I own it. I never chose to be a homosexual and those people will call me hateful names. I accept it. They chose to be bigots, and yet they won't accept the name and own it. I don't get it.

pam w.
pam w3 years ago

Eugenio, note that I was speaking directly to Timothy. I didn't name names (he knows of whom I speak) and I didn't address anyone else. An idiot is an idiot; a hypocrite is a hypocrite, etc.

donna m.
donna m3 years ago


Eugenio Rodriguez

PLEASE, refrain from calling each other names . . . Whether you are from the right or the left in political terms.

You're more effective in your arguments if you use reasons and facts rather than insults.

Please. Otherwise other people --like me-- will stop participating.

pam w.
pam w3 years ago

Timothy....thank YOU for being so patient with so many of the IDIOTS, BIGOTS and SELF-SATISFIED HYPOCRITES here!

I hope that, if even ONE of them begins to see the world a bit differently based on something you've said or I've said. It would make it worthwhile.