Good point made by Ellen Goodman in The Boston Globe a couple of days ago, in a column about "conscience clauses" for pharmacists:
How much further do we want to expand the reach of the individual conscience? Does the person at the checkout counter have a right to refuse to sell condoms? Does the bus driver have a right to refuse to let off customers in front of a Planned Parenthood clinic?
We could play that game all night. Does a vegetarian have the right to get a job at McDonald's and refuse to sell anything other than salads? Should Hardee's not have the right to fire you if you refuse to sell some people the Monster Thickburger because they're too fat?
OK, maybe it's inappropriate to compare secular matters of "conscience" to ones we normally put under the rubric of religion. All right, try this instead: What happens if, in a small town, you go to buy some big-ticket piece of consumer electronics and the dealer says "Sorry, no 42-inch plasma high-definition TV for you" because he attends your church and he knows you haven't tithed?
How far could we go with this? If there's a fire and you're living with a partner out of wedlock, or you're gay, can the "values conservative" fire chief let your house burn down? As a "matter of conscience"?
(Link via Feministing.)