By Tom Ehrich

Bigots are claiming their "religious freedom" requires free rein for bigotry.

That's a clever argument. It seems to claim the moral high ground, to align itself with basic Constitutional principles, and to put bigots in the victim role.

Utter nonsense, of course. Freedom of belief has nothing to do with compelling other people to bow to that belief. If anything, freedom of belief should lead to a broad umbrella of diversity, not a parched patch of hatred.

What's next? Disobeying traffic signs because a gay-friendly city government put them up? Drawing down on a policeman because he happens to be gay? Obeying only those laws that no gay person supports or benefits from?

"Religious freedom," as used by the ever-insurgent right wing, is like earlier shouts of "America First" and "states' rights" and "Christian nation." It is a bullying slogan to justify dragging others down to their level of fear and loathing.

Faith isn't about building walls, but opening doors. Faith isn't about naming and smiting enemies, but loving all, even enemies. Faith isn't about judging others, but setting aside the instinct to judge and trusting God to be just. Faith isn't about denying services and rights to people who are different, but setting a table where all are fed.

But even if the right wing had a firm religion based on discrimination and sexual identity, that is their business, not public policy. They can shout their hatred as much as they want, but they cannot impose it on others.

The only "freedom" at stake here is their desired freedom to bully and badger fellow citizens whom they detest. That isn't religious freedom. It's a violation of the Constitution and the laws of this free land.

It is also an offense against a Savior who died for all, not just for the like-minded.