Kentucky just can’t seem to untangle itself from religion. From being home to the Creation Museum to housing a legislature that has apparently never heard of the Establishment Clause, Kentucky is slowly, but surely, making me feel slightly better about living in Alabama.
The most recent incident of religious boneheadedness concerns the extension of discounts to insurance policyholders who were churchgoers. Offering a discount based on religion is in violation of the Fair Housing Act, a federal statute that “protects” buyers and renters by maintaining their right to discriminate.
I hope I don’t lose anyone here, but hear me out. While I am not at all a Libertarian, the following part may make some of my Libertarian friends moist in their nether regions.
While it is generally a good thing to keep religion out of things like buying a home, there are certain places where the marketplace could course-correct and eliminate the need for Federal intervention. If I were to own an insurance company, of course I would gladly take the money of anyone that walked through my door, regardless of their religious beliefs. As an atheist, it would absolutely make my day to meet a fellow non-believer, and if I wanted to tip them a discount, I should be able to. After all, I would be doing no harm except to my bottom line. Hell, if I was in a progressive enough area, I might be so bold as to offer a discount on auto insurance to customers who show me their Darwin fish emblem. But none of these things are legal thanks to the Fair Housing Act.
What makes this a particularly sticky situation is that our current system is not sufficiently competitive to allow for consumers to have access to alternatives to such religious buffoonery, as was the case in Kentucky. There are many laws (particularly state and local laws) which prevent some properties from being insured by out-of-state insurance policies. This could be super sucky for someone living in Kentucky who may have no other choice but to purchase homeowner’s insurance from a fundy.
However, it would be nice if some brave soul opened the Atheist Insurance Agency and his or her loyal customers from all 50 states could enjoy discounts, great service, and truly be in “good hands”.