RFRA isn’t to discriminate against gay Americans, but to prevent the government from discriminating against religious Americans.
On March 26th Indiana Governor, Mike Pence, signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and a hellish firestorm of opposition soon erupted.
Outraged celebrities, politicians, and journalists said the law was a license to discriminate against gay people.
The CEO of SalesForce said he was pulling out of Indiana. The city of San Francisco is banning taxpayer-funded travel to the Hoosier state and the NCAA has expressed concerns about holding future events there.
The legislation would prohibit state and local laws that “substantially burden” the ability of people – including businesses and associations – to follow their religious beliefs. Governor Pence said the bill ensures that “Religious liberty is fully protected under Indiana law” and that “The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action.”
Indiana makes the 20th state in the Nation to adopt such legislation. It’s modeled after the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. The measure unanimously passed the House of Representatives and sailed through the Senate on a 97-3 vote back then.
In a 1997 Supreme Court case (City of Boeme v. Flores), the court held that federal RFRA was generally inapplicable against state and local laws. Since then, a number of states have enacted their own RFRA statutes.
The point of RFRA isn’t to discriminate against gay Americans, but to prevent the government from discriminating against religious Americans.
However, a CNN headline like “Law allows businesses to reject gay customers” is nothing more than misconception and an affliction of bad journalism.
In a letter to the editor of the Indy Star, a reader wrote: “As a Christian I won’t participate in what I see as their sin. I think that is the issue here. I think the word ‘participate’ is the word we need to be using. You want to come in my grocery store and buy potato salad for your wedding, be my guest. You want me to take the wedding pictures? My beliefs do not let me participate at that level and I believe the Religious Freedom Act is needed to make that dichotomy which others fail to see.”
An article written in the Indianapolis Star, on the day of the bill’s signing, was titled: “Gay activists to Christians: Surrender – or else.”
A radio personality in Indianapolis wrote the piece and said a few years ago he hosted a gay activist attorney on his radio program. When he asked whether she believed the homosexual lobby could peacefully coexist with transitional Christian morality she said: “Sure, if Christians give up their resistance to our cause!”
The author of the article claimed it’s a reincarnation of fascism. “Believe like us, think like us, and embrace our views or be fined, fired, evicted or punished by the state.” He also added they rely on a healthy dose of propaganda to fool the masses into supporting their agenda. Liberal comedian Bill Maher dubs them “The Gay Mafia.”
When the CEO of SalesForce claims none of his employees or customers will be allowed to go to Indiana he’s discriminating and forcing others to conform.
In Missouri, a Christian couple, who ran a bakery, were sued by a lesbian couple because they didn’t feel comfortable with baking a cake for their wedding. They ended up losing their business.
A female florist in the state of Washington said she couldn’t provide the arrangements for a male customer who decided to marry another man. When the Attorney General of that state caught wind of it he said he would see to it that the woman would lose her business and everything she personally owned. When confronted with that threat she said: “I won’t turn my back on Jesus, and if I become penniless I will never denounce my faith.”
If a RFRA was in place in Washington, it would have prevented that Attorney General from carrying out a vendetta.
With all the talk of discrimination against gays there’s little consideration for the discrimination that’s going on against people of faith who can’t turn their back on what they believe, or “participate” in what they view as contrary.
Studies have found that nearly 80% of Americans claim to be Christian. On the other hand, according to Census statistics, roughly 4% of the population say they’re homosexual. There’s a chasm there. Those who seek change in social structure, which has been defined since the dawn of time, also try to redefine biological order. By doing so, they’re essentially claiming: “God’s a Bigot.”
Greg Allen’s column, Thinkin’ Out Loud, has been published bi-monthly since 2009. He’s an author, nationally syndicated columnist and the founder of Builder of the Spirit in Jamestown, Indiana, a non-profit organization aiding the poor. He can be reached at www.builderofthespirit.org or follow him on Twitter @GregAllencolumn.