The PJ Tatler

Is San Antonio About to Apply a Religious Test to Local Office Candidates?

In August the San Antonio city council will consider a new ordinance dealing with gay rights. According to the San Antonio Express-News, the proposed ordinance will include:

A requirement that businesses seeking contracts with the city comply with the policy.

The council’s ability to weigh the “words and deeds” of candidates for city boards and commissions to determine bias against protected classes.

The possibility of up to a $500 fine for businesses that decline to provide products or services based on customers’ sexual orientation or gender identity.

All three of those contain land mines for religious leaders, institutions and even laity in the city’s churches. The fine in the third opens businesses up to prosecution for exercising their owners’ right of religious conscience. Lawsuits have already been launched and won against Christian-owned businesses in other states that declined to take work on gay wedding and civil union ceremonies. The second is drawing the most fire, though, as in the context of gay rights it suggests that any candidate for any position across the top echelons of San Antonio’s government could face rejection if they have ever made any public statement opposing gay marriage or anything else regarding gay rights. An otherwise capable business leader could therefore be rejected to serve on a city commission because she publicly held the same position that Barack Obama publicly held regarding same-sex marriage as recently as 2012. That’s a religious test, a ban on which was specifically written into Article Six of the US Constitution.

What we have here are competing rights — the rights of Christians to practice their faith as they have for two thousand years, versus the rights of gays to marry as they have been arguing should be their right for only a little over a decade.

When do the forces of enforced secularism sue the city founded as a mission and named after a saint to change its name?