Anti-Indiana Insanity

The debate over Indiana’s RFRA law amounts to little more than a headache-inducing cacophony of meaningless noise.  As soon as the law was passed, the liberal media exploded with speculation over how this law would lead to widespread discrimination against homosexuals…even though there is no evidence to support that assertion.

Consider this:

  • There is no substantive difference between Indiana’s RFRA law and the federal RFRA law, which was signed by Bill Clinton back in 1993.
  • In the 22 years that the federal RFRA law has been on the books, there has not been a single example of that law being used to discriminate against homosexuals.  Ever.
  • 19 other states have existing RFRA laws.  None of them have been used to discriminate against homosexuals.

Because of all of the rumors and speculation surrounding the law, it’s getting to be difficult to understand just which end is up.

Why is the law necessary?

In reality, we shouldn’t need anything like the RFRA in America – we have the First Amendment, after all, which is supposed to prevent the government from trampling all over Americans’ religious rights.  But as government got bigger and bigger, it increasingly began to interfere in religious matters, which is why RFRA laws were created.  There is nothing in these laws that legally allows discrimination; all they do is provide definition around what the government can and cannot do when they come up against a citizen’s religious beliefs.

With the recent spate of cases involving state governments forcing Christian business owners to provide services for gay weddings, RFRA laws have become relevant again.

All the law does is provide criteria for the courts to use in discrimination cases – so that if someone is sued for discriminating against anyone, the courts have a legal framework to refer to.

Why all the shouting?

The debate has reached insane proportions, with a pizzeria in Indiana being forced to close its doors – perhaps even permanently – due to threats over an out-of-context quote.  When asked, the owner of the pizzeria stated that they wouldn’t provide pizzas (if they were ever asked) for a gay wedding.  They never actually refused to provide service to anyone – all that happened was that a reporter asked for an opinion.  This was blown into the pizzeria refusing to serve homosexuals, and now the family that owns the pizzeria is afraid to go out in public due to the threats of violence unleashed on them by the forces of “tolerance.”

Truth be told, if this Indiana pizzeria were systematically refusing service to all homosexuals, they would be on the wrong side of the law, with or without the RFRA.  Throughout this debate, no one has been talking about giving anyone the right to discriminate against homosexuals.  The only thing at issue is whether the government can force people to violate their own religious beliefs by facilitating gay weddings.

Where is this headed?

We’ve already seen, in several states, law suits brought against Christian small business owners who refused to provide services for same-sex weddings have resulted in the courts forcing business owners to either provide services in violation of their religious beliefs, or face fines that would put them out of business.  So far, it’s happened to a family-owned bakery in Oregon, a photographer in Colorado, a family-owned farm in New York (that served as a wedding/reception venue), and a few others.  In these cases, the businesses were sued for violating the state’s anti-discrimination laws, and the courts basically said “provide services, or go out of business.”  In response to these rulings, the businesses that were sued no longer provide any services for any weddings, lest the government continue to force them to violate their religious beliefs.

Indiana’s proposed “fix” would pretty much render the law meaningless, and while it still has to pass through Indiana’s legislature to be “on the books,” with the amount of national attention focused on Indiana, that could go either way.

But one thing is clear: the focus of the ‘gay agenda’ is not on equal rights.  Gay marriage was a starting point, not the endgame.  Now that gay marriage is legal in several states, the focus has turned to forcing Christian business owners and churches to facilitate those weddings.  The generally-accepted assumption seems to be that if you disagree with homosexuality in any way, you hate all homosexuals, and any amount of shunning, threatening, and shaming is permissible.  Frankly, it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that the businesses that have been sued thus far were targeted by activists, rather than just some random gay couples looking for services for their weddings.

And these days, you don’t even have to disagree with the agenda to be a target!

With the NCAA basketball championship game scheduled to be held in Indianapolis in just a few days, a CNN reporter asked the coach from Duke University for his opinion on the Indiana law.  He chose not to respond, stating that he was there to talk about the Duke basketball team and the Final Four, not about social issues – which is completely reasonable for a basketball coach…and to hear the responses to his silence, you would think that he had called for the lynching of all homosexuals, rather than refusing to offer an opinion.

This is where it’s headed: it’s not enough to try and stay un-involved.  The people pushing the agenda won’t let you.  This fight isn’t about equal rights – this fight is about forcing people to accept and endorse homosexuality.

For anyone still confused about just what the RFRA laws actually do, this should help:

RFRA-Infographic

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2 replies

  1. I think the pizza folks proved they weren’t smart enough to operate a business. The very idea of serving pizza at a wedding, ANY wedding! Since Glenn Beck and The Blaze raised $100k+ on their behalf, they will do juuust fine. They can open a store selling pre-made products, and thereby avoid having to guess which customers they are comfortable selling them to.

    I enjoy infographics. I’m not a lawyer, so I have no idea if its assertions are factually correct, but it’s a nice, easy to understand layout. The objections raised around SB101 don’t really concern case situations like the ones in the graphic. I read in the WSJ that no US court has affirmed a First Amendment right of businesses to refuse to serve any customer for any reasons except inappropriate behavior (cutting off drunks in a bar), or inability to pay. Commerce and trade are not exercises of religion in the eyes of the law.

    I was concerned that you wrote an incorrect assertion that SB101 is like the Federal RFRA and those of other states. It isn’t, in substantive ways. The fed RFRA only addresses actions between the government and groups, and SCOTUS ruled it doesn’t cover all states. That’s why states began writing their own versions. And the state versions are different from each other as well. Some contain language specifying groups protected from discrimination, and others don’t. Indiana’s law is (I’m told) more broad in scope, and more ambiguous in not defining the “burden” than other state RFRAs.

    Garrett Epps, one of the editors at The Atlantic, wrote a good piece with much more detail about the specific differences. Perhaps you would enjoy it:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/03/what-makes-indianas-religious-freedom-law-different/388997/

    • Thanks for the link; I wasn’t aware of that difference between Indiana’s law and other RFRAs. However, I don’t buy in to the assumption that business owners should be forced to forfeit their religious rights “for the privilege of running a business.” The people who create and operate businesses still have First Amendment rights, and the modern notion that those rights are negotiable or negated due to their possession of a business license is ridiculous.

      Also, I know about the crowdfunding campaign for the pizzeria, and I’m not worried about them financially…but they may still be forced to close their doors due to the threats of violence, all because they responded to some reporter’s hypothetical question about a situation they probably wouldn’t ever be in because pizza isn’t really the menu item of choice for weddings.

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