A Good Use of Religious Freedom Laws

When you heard the phrase “religious freedom laws” your mind probably jumps to thoughts of business owners discriminating against patrons based on their sexual orientation. That has been the primary motivation of the politicians who passed these laws and the angle being covered by the press. But these laws can also be used for good. Let’s take the state’s war against the homeless as an example. One woman has cited a religious freedom law in response to the state trying to stop her from feeding the homeless:

Joan Cheever of San Antonio has been serving meals to the city’s homeless for 10 years. But last week, police officers handed her a ticket with a potential fine of $2,000. Despite having a food permit for the food truck she cooks out of, which she calls the Chow Train, she was cited for transporting and serving it from a different vehicle.

But that hasn’t stopped her from continuing to hand out three-course meals to the homeless. On Friday, she went back to Maverick Park with 50 supporters to hand out food, and this time she wasn’t ticketed. Cheever has argued that she has a right to feed the homeless under Texas’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act because she considers it exercising her religious beliefs.

Christianity teaches compassion for the poor and afflicted so it’s not extent to claim feeding the homeless is a protected act under religious freedom laws. Now the question becomes whether the state will find and act that goes against its interest a lawful act of religious freedom.