Many of us entrenched in political and cultural fights to preserve life, marriage and family, and religious freedom join our fellow Americans as we grieve the tragic loss of life from the inconceivable horror unleashed in Orlando, Florida earlier this month by an admitted jihadist. We’ve set aside our arguments and bent our knees.
It’s anguishing to see families torn apart, lives lost, and fear for future safety set in. Our differences on hold, we pray, grieve, and offer comfort to fellow Americans made in God’s image.
But some won’t have it. They cannot see beyond the differences but instead, see an opportunity to use a horrific massacre to vilify those they see as the enemy — not the jihadist — but rather, fellow Arizonans who happen not to agree with them on certain issues.
Angela Hughey of One Community took to these pages several days ago and called the slaughter in Orlando a “hate crime.” Not once did she pen the words “terrorist,” “jihadist,” or “ISIS.” She made no reference to the killer’s own admission of carrying out the attack in the name of Allah.
No, Hughey shamelessly exploited the attack, trying her best to manipulate readers’ emotions to further her own agenda in hopes of garnering sympathy for an unrelated cause.
Hughey turned her pen on Arizona-based nonprofit groups, Alliance Defending Freedom and Center for Arizona Policy, for which I work. Because we advocate for Arizonans’ right to live out their beliefs and stay true to their convictions, we are apparently to blame for any maltreatment of the LGBT community, even mass murder.
It makes no difference that the Orlando killer would never have been affiliated with either ADF or CAP, according to his admitted allegiances. CAP has condemned terrorist attacks and violence against anyone, including those with whom we don’t always agree.
Our efforts are aimed at preserving America’s long-held right to live out one’s faith and convictions without government interference. This is an acceptable expectation in a free and diverse America.
Hughey used this platform to call for more laws based on the unfounded allegation that individuals are being denied services, employment, or housing because of their sexual orientation or identity. The facts are simple: Arizonans aren’t refusing to provide services to individuals on this bases. We know of no such lawsuits in Arizona courts.
Ironically though, there is a Phoenix business whose owners are challenging a city law prohibiting them from living according to their faith. These proposed laws have been used to deny constitutionally guaranteed freedoms to people of faith.
We’ve seen it in the many lawsuits destroying bakeries, photography stores and wedding venues whose owners live out their religious beliefs in their everyday lives. From Barronelle Stutzman in Washington State, to Kelvin Cochran in Atlanta, Georgia, business owners and individuals are faced with choosing between their faith and their livelihoods.
So, when Hughey asks Arizonans to put “hate and intolerance aside” and make Arizona “open, welcoming, and inclusive to everyone,” I sure hope she is including those of us who hold true to our faith and strive to live and work according to our beliefs. Because the enemy is not those of us who don’t always agree with our fellow American.
The jihadist wants to destroy us all, and the distraction of placing blame elsewhere lets the real enemy off the hook.
Editor’s note: Ms. Herrod is a licensed attorney and President of Center for Arizona Policy.