That other Republicans signed on to Sen. David Burns’ so-called “religious freedom” bill – reported on April 15 – as well as his withdrawal of the proposed legislation – reported on April 16 – was disturbing on two counts.

First, it was depressing to learn that leaders of the Maine Senate, a body formerly admired nationally for its independence and moderation, would actually even consider jumping on other states’ highly questionable legislative bandwagons.

Such legislation is completely redundant, as freedom from discrimination on the basis of religion is already afforded every American under our Constitution.

Second, it was even more disheartening to read Sen. Burns’ reason for withdrawing the bill. He claimed that “opponents … and some in the media have poisoned the well of public discussion.”

Indeed, the only poison present is in the barely masked reason for introducing the bill. When religious absolutes are considered justification for acts by one set of individuals against another, where is the line that separates what might seem to some a minor act of discrimination from acts on the scale of murder or enslavement?

If anyone thinks that this question is just fear-mongering, they haven’t been paying attention to contemporary activity around the world in the name of religion. And they have forgotten what they once learned about the orgies of torture and killing launched in defense of religions over the past millennia.

This bill would have been a very scary first step on a path that could take us to some ugly places – places that I hope our fine state of Maine will never go.

Clifford S. Russell