10 Americans Helped By Religious Freedom Restoration Act Bills Like Indiana’s

[Tim] Cook writes that “Opposing discrimination takes courage.” He’s right. When powerful elites take aim at religious freedom, it takes a heck of a lot of courage to fight against anti-religious discrimination.

Do you think Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act is about discriminating against gays? Check your facts.

Comments 52
  1. Ray Ingles

    It’s not quite that simple. For example, the timing of the recent push for RFRAs is a little… awkward, along with the people pushing for it, and their rhetoric.

    And why is there opposition to amending/clarifying the RFRAs to include non-discrimination clauses? How come, here in Michigan, the RFRA was fast-tracked and the anti-LGBT-discrimination bill was stalled?

    (Me, I don’t like RFRAs – because if we can get by with exceptions, then does something really need to be a ‘requirement’ at all? At the very least, the exceptions should be open to everyone, not just the religious.)

  2. Tom Gilson

    Right. Your IndyStar article explains helpfully that this RFRA push was tied to the gay marriage fight.

    Considering that those roots go back to Chuck Schumer in 1993, I can’t help being a bit skeptical.

    Now, are we concerned about religious freedom today? Of course! It’s a hotter issue all the time. We see our rights being taken away day by day. But what does this bill do? It ensures that the rights that have been in the federal RFRA since Schumer and Clinton made it happen will apply where state law applies. Its wording is not reactive. Its provisions do not target gays.

    Some people are saying otherwise. I call that a vicious lie.

  3. BillT

    I call that a vicious lie.

    But we now live in a society where the gatekeepers in the media have shown over and over that they are willing to lie about anyone and anything that doesn’t fit their agenda. With those lies they can incite a city to riot and others to kill police. They can make Governors cower in fear. We believe that real justice awaits them but in the meantime they’ll have a huge impact.

  4. Ray Ingles

    Tom –

    It ensures that the rights that have been in the federal RFRA since Schumer and Clinton made it happen will apply where state law applies. Its wording is not reactive. Its provisions do not target gays.

    The provisions don’t have to “target gays”… if the “state law” doesn’t include any anti-discrimination clauses regarding LGBT citizens. In Indiana, except for state employees it’s not illegal to fire someone because they’re gay. And it’s perfectly legal to evict someone because they’re gay.

    And it’s important to note that the wording of the Indiana RFRA is not, in fact, ‘identical’ to the federal statute.

  5. Tom Gilson

    The rules are there, actually, to prevent gay-rights activists from unfairly targeting Christians. But not really. Read the article and find out the whole range of protections the rules provide, and the limitations.

  6. SteveK

    One of the benefits of flying so much is that I get to listen to great podcasts. I was touched to hear how a potentially bad situation was made into a great demonstration of truth and love.

    As Christian’s, we CAN do both – stand firm in the truth of our faith, and warmly love thy neighbor.

    Michael Brown’s response is great reminder for me personally of how far I have come, and how far I have yet to go.

  7. Ray Ingles

    SteveK – Brendan Eich wasn’t prosecuted, or fined. A lot of people didn’t want to do business with him, however, and by extension the company he was leading.

    Being free to choose who you do business with and on what grounds is, of course, what Christian bakers and florists want, right? Indeed, boycotts are hardly restricted to one end of the political spectrum. What law was broken in the case of Eich? Or, alternatively, what law would you propose to address such cases?

    Being unpopular, being persecuted, and being oppressed by the government are different things. Of course at times people can be subject to all three, but sometimes it’s just one.

  8. SteveK

    I don’t know the law, but I guess you’re saying that being unfairly bullied and targeted is legal, so what’s the problem? If you want to argue that point please continue because it serves to make my point.

    What law am I proposing? I’m not.

  9. Ray Ingles

    SteveK – What I’m saying is, if Eich was “unfairly bullied and targeted”, I can’t see how the AFA isn’t guilty of the same thing. Do you agree? If not, what’s the salient difference?

  10. Tom Gilson

    Ray, I want to come back to what you’ve conveniently skated by: all the vicious lies that have been spoken about this bill in Indiana. Do you support lying for the sake of a political agenda?

  11. SteveK

    Ray,
    By AFA, I assume you mean the religious freedom act? If so, how does it unfairly target and bully when it doesn’t say anything about bullying, targeting or what is fair/unfair? I don’t see the connection.

  12. Gavin

    Tom @2,

    Its provisions do not target gays.

    Its proponents target gays.

    Here’s Advance America, furious about the “clarification” that would prohibit businesses from denying services based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

    On Thursday, April 2nd, the Indiana Senate and Indiana House of Representatives will be voting to destroy the Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed earlier by the General Assembly!… Among the things that will happen, Christian bakers, florists and photographers would now be forced by the government to participate in a homosexual wedding or else they would be punished by the government! That’s not right!

    It would “destroy religious freedom protection” if it can’t be used to deny service to gays. Denying service to gays is what RFRA is about, according to its most vocal supporters. Are these the people you are accusing of vicious lies?

  13. G. Rodrigues

    @Gavin:

    It would “destroy religious freedom protection” if it can’t be used to deny service to gays. Denying service to gays is what RFRA is about, according to its most vocal supporters. Are these the people you are accusing of vicious lies?

    You should read more attentively your own quote. It was, and I repeat for the sake of clarity:

    On Thursday, April 2nd, the Indiana Senate and Indiana House of Representatives will be voting to destroy the Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed earlier by the General Assembly!… Among the things that will happen, Christian bakers, florists and photographers would now be forced by the government to participate in a homosexual wedding or else they would be punished by the government! That’s not right!

    “Participation in homossexual wedding” is not to “deny service to gays”, but rather to refuse a specific type of *job*, performance of which is morally objectionable. If two heterossexual persons came to her asking to service for an homossexual wedding of their friends, the answer would be the same. This is an elementary distinction. Maybe you should try to bear it in mind?

  14. Tom Gilson

    Gavin, you’re operating from a definition of religious freedom that includes the option to compel believers to act against their beliefs and conscience.

    From that perspective you see that as permitting Christians to attack gays. Actually, no, to suggest that a gay couple find service somewhere else is not an attack. (I am distressed that this requires articulating.)

    To compel Christians to violate conscience on pain of losing their homes and livelihoods is an attack on religious freedom. That’s the freedom this bill is protecting.

    So let’s clarify where we stand. Maybe you think it’s extremely important to the future of our society that religious freedom be truncated in this way. Is that your position?

  15. Gavin

    Tom,

    No one is compelled to provide cakes for weddings, arrange flowers for weddings, photograph weddings, or provide a venue for weddings. Saying, “I do weddings, just not for gays,” is denying service to based on sexual orientation. This should be, and in many places is, illegal (perhaps with certain exemptions for churches and other religious organizations). Saying, “I don’t do weddings,” is fine.

  16. Gavin

    G.,

    You distinguish between (1) “Participation in homossexual wedding” and (2) “deny service to gays.” Senate Bill 50, the “clarification,” prohibits businesses from doing (2), but Advance America and other vocal proponents of the bill claim that it actually requires (1). Either they are missing this elementary distinction or, more likely, they don’t think it will hold up in court. I am not a lawyer, but I thing the courts have been pretty consistent in saying that something which has the effect of discriminating is no better than something that is explicitly discriminating.

    “We don’t refuse service based on sexual orientation, but refuse service based on something that is 100% correlated with sexual orientation,” is a pretty shaky defense.

  17. G. Rodrigues

    @Gavin:

    If you do not understand a quite elementary distinction — and I am not surprised you do not, as many other people likewise do not, conflating as they do orientations or tendencies with acts — that is your problem, not mine.

    At any rate, you are likewise saying that a baker is compelled to bake a cake for someone that requests a bake with “God hates faggots” since the latter is protected speech.

    Welcome to The Brave New World of Gavin & Co.

  18. DR84

    Gavin-

    These wedding service vendors also would not object to participating in a same sex “wedding” between two straight men or women for the same reasons. Come to think of it, I bet many pro-gay wedding vendors would have moral objections to providing service for a same sex “wedding” that does not involve a homosexual relationship. (I also bet that judges would not find that they have discriminated against anyone if they did).

  19. Ray Ingles

    A lot of people have different ideas about the purpose and effects of the Indiana RFRA. And have said a lot of things about its purpose and effects. Whether they’re saying lies depends on whether (a) what they’re saying isn’t true and (b) whether they believe what they’re saying is true or not.

    The two items you picked – “Its wording is not reactive. Its provisions do not target gays.” You present claims to the contrary as ‘vicious lies’.

    The Indiana RFRA specifically includes private parties in its wording, for example, unlike the federal version. Can you pick out specific sentences in this account which are ‘lies’? When you’ve got an AFA Indiana executive director helping draft the bill, it doesn’t look good. Is Tony Perkins lying when he says what he wants out of RFRAs?

    And even if that’s wrong – if people do believe it on a reasonable basis, it’s not a lie. It can be a mistake, but it is not a deliberate attempt to deceive.

  20. Ray Ingles

    SteveK, read the link in #9. I was talking about the American Family Association, the “AFA”, who habitually organize boycotts against businesses that, in their view, embrace the ‘homosexual agenda’. In other words, “unfair[] bull[ying] and target[ing]”.

  21. SteveK

    I have no issues with boycotting, Ray. Boycotting is when you distance yourself from a business – you withdrawal your support of the business and let everyone know why in the hope that they will join you. Pressuring a CEO to resign is not distancing yourself from a business. It’s engaging the business. Bullying is engagement, not distancing. If the AFA does that then I most likely would object to that tactic – but not necessarily in every situation – as some situations might require it, morally.

  22. DR84

    No…I mean to say the vendors would object equally to participating in a same sex “wedding” that does not involve a homosexual relationship. Thanks for catching that.

  23. JAD

    Back on March 30, 2015, Josh Blackman, a constitutional-law professor at the South Texas College of Law in Houston, made these key points about the Indiana RFRA law:

    Section 9 of Indiana’s RFRA provides that “A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.” In the wake of Elane Photography, Indiana made explicit for its own law what the four federal courts of appeals and the Obama Justice Department had already recognized about the federal counterpart. Indiana’s RFRA does no more than codify that the private enforcement of public laws — such as discrimination claims — can be defended if there is a substantial burden on free exercise of religion. That’s it. And again, until recently, this provision was not particularly controversial…

    RFRA does not provide immunity to discrimination claims. It only allows a defendant to raise a defense, which a finder of fact must consider, as in any other defense that can be raised under Title VII or the Americans with Disabilities Act. Yes, believe it or not, under employment-discrimination laws, the courts have long recognized that there are legitimate defenses to treating people differently based on protected statuses…

    As Indiana University law professor Daniel Conkle, a supporter of same-sex marriage, explained, “The proposed Indiana RFRA would provide valuable guidance to Indiana courts, directing them to balance religious freedom against competing interests under the same legal standard that applies throughout most of the land. It is anything but a ‘license to discriminate,’ and it should not be mischaracterized or dismissed on that basis.” In this sense, the Indiana law would operate as does its federal counterpart.

    Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/416160/indiana-protecting-discrimination-josh-blackman

    So what then, again, was the hysteria all about? Did the people protesting the law know anything about it? Or, was it all just mindless ideological group think?

  24. Ray Ingles

    Tom – No, no, I’m not going to compare the effects of a boycott to the effects of a governmental ruling. That’s exactly what I said in #9, you’ll note.

    But SteveK is, maybe? Read his link in #6. I think you’ll grasp the context better then.

  25. Tom Gilson

    Okay, in #9, who stood up and said that the people who effectively drove Eich out of business were doing so unjustly, discriminating against him on the basis of factors that had nothing to do with his job, and really just forcing him out on the basis of dislike?

    I chose “dislike” because I thought you would recognize it’s true. Now, let’s consider what dislike is called when it’s expressed in the form of name-calling, shunning, and eviction, and let’s ask, who stood up and said, “STOP THE HATE”?

    (Gay-rights activists think we’re the only ones who hate. This is textbook, though. It leads me to conclude that it’s not hate they oppose, but only the hate that they’re not guilty of.)

    And then let’s take this one step further. The law was not brought into play in Eich’s case. It didn’t protect him. That’s what religious freedom is about, but it wasn’t anywhere in sight here.

    And now all the clamor is for laws that will reinforce, endorse, and place a stamp of approval on these kinds of attitudes. The law matters, Ray, not only for what it requires or forbids, but also for what it teaches.

  26. Ray Ingles

    Tom – What unjust tactics were used against Eich? Be specific, please. People said they wouldn’t use Firefox, and encouraged others not to either. I haven’t heard about anything like death threats against him, for example. What tactics were used against Eich that the AFA does not regularly deploy? (Or do you detest the AFA for the same reasons?)

    I will ask you what I asked SteveK – “What law was broken in the case of Eich? Or, alternatively, what law would you propose to address such cases?”

  27. Gavin

    Tom @17,21

    Gavin, you’re operating from a definition of religious freedom that includes the option to compel believers to act against their beliefs and conscience…. Is that your position?

    No. I explain my position in 18.

  28. SteveK

    I’m most interested in calling out the resulting agenda-driven bad behavior in the direction of Eich – something that the law doesn’t need to address. I’m not going to ask for laws that make it criminal to be an intolerant, unkind jerk on Twitter. At some point, though, these actions become bullying.

  29. Tom Gilson

    Ray @32, don’t be dense.

    Tactics are never just or unjust in themselves. The motivations behind them are what make them so.

    The law I would propose would be an RFRA.

    I do not propose that this would have solved the whole problem. I’m not dense enough to take the bait you’re offering here, which is to make this as if it were about what the law would have specifically enforced to help Eich. (SteveK didn’t make that mistake, either.)

    The law’s effect, and its relevance in Eich’s case, would be more along the lines of the teaching purpose the law serves. It’s no more than a part of the answer. But consider what it teaches if the anti-RFRA crowd wins in Indiana and elsewhere: that to support religion is to be intolerant and ugly. That’s a false and damaging message.

    Even though you’ve bought into it yourself.

  30. Gavin

    G. @20,

    At any rate, you are likewise saying that a baker is compelled to bake a cake for someone that requests a bake with “God hates faggots” since the latter is protected speech.

    Nope.

  31. DR84

    Just posting the below in case it was missed. I believe it is rightfully alarming. It may be indicative of what is to come in a world that does not care for religious freedom. People will be “made” to change their beliefs.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/05/opinion/sunday/frank-bruni-same-sex-sinners.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Ffrank-bruni&_r=0

    “And we could say the same about the idea that men and women in loving same-sex relationships are doing something wrong. In fact the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have said that. So have most American Catholics, in defiance of their church’s teaching.

    And it’s a vital message because of something that Indiana demonstrated anew: Religion is going to be the final holdout and most stubborn refuge for homophobia. It will give license to discrimination. It will cause gay and lesbian teenagers in fundamentalist households to agonize needlessly: Am I broken? Am I damned?

    “Conservative Christian religion is the last bulwark against full acceptance of L.G.B.T. people,” Gushee said.”

    “Gold told me that church leaders must be made “to take homosexuality off the sin list.”

    His commandment is worthy — and warranted. All of us, no matter our religious traditions, should know better than to tell gay people that they’re an offense. And that’s precisely what the florists and bakers who want to turn them away are saying to them.”

  32. G. Rodrigues

    @Gavin:

    Nope.

    Do not know what kind of response you imagine this is, but it certainly is not to the argument I made (well, actually an enthymeme, but it is easy enough to supply the missing parts).

  33. Gavin

    G,

    The link was for anyone interested in how your enthymeme fares in the real world.

  34. Andrew W

    While the RFRA has some things going for it, in this context the wrong battle.

    Non-marital sex and the associated culture of divorce and sexual license is harmful, to the individuals involved and to society.

    Homosexual sex is moreso. In addition to carrying most of the risks and issues of the above, it carries additional risks of physical harm due to the unnatural use of sexual organs and additional social harm in that it de-normalises the ideal of heterosexual parenthood (the ideal of permanent committed parenthood was already gone).

    If those who disagree petition only about the right to speak, they’ve already granted legitimacy to the opposing view and are asking they tolerate dissent, for a little while longer. Yet observe the following:

    (1) at each stage of the sexual revolution, the views presented were distasteful to society. While those pushing the views asked for the right to speak, the unspoken message was that speaking was going to happen whether permission was given or not.

    (2) at each stage, assurances were given that “this won’t change anything for anyone else”. The clear pattern is that such assurances carry weight only until those giving them feel ready to ignore them.

    (3) society has no qualms about meddling in matters of corporate health, whether anti-smoking, anti-obesity, anti-anorexia, “healthy” foods or a host of other agendas. That similar health arguments about mis-sexuality are shut down with fervour indicates that this topic has been granted special privilege.

    As to the constitutional arguments in the US context, it’s also worth noting that all 50 states had laws against fornication and adultery until 1973. Not one person who signed to the US constitution, or the Bill of Rights, or the provisions for freedom of speech or religion, saw opposition to practices outside heterosexual marriage as a fundamental constitutional conflict, nor did generations of lawmakers and legal practitioners. That such a conflict existed was not simply untested, but unthinkable. Given that the laws will be reinterpreted to meet the needs of the argument, it seems foolish to argue about the laws rather than appealing to the real issues.

    The sexual revolution occurred by action despite law. Now that it has the force of law behind it, it is foolish to suppose that countering it can be done by arguing the niceties of law. There are moral arguments to be had – about nature, health, society, and even hypocrisy – but, with only minor exceptions, the law comes in on the side of those who are winning the real arguments.

    (Analogy from sport: in field hockey, there is a tactic where if one is having difficulty making a tackle it is sufficient to force the ball-carrier to run down the side of the field until he runs out of space. Simply distracting the ball-carrier into a contest unrelated to attacking the goal is a win, for it buys the defenders time to counter-attack. Arguments about RFRA laws have the same effect of tying proponents up in a pointless contest until the defenders of new society have mustered sufficient defense.)

  35. G. Rodrigues

    @Gavin:

    The link was for anyone interested in how your enthymeme fares in the real world.

    But has nothing to do with the enthymeme itself.

    As usual. “Usual” being you not addressing the actual arguments, or even having a solid grasp of what is being talked about.

  36. Ray Ingles

    Tom –

    Tactics are never just or unjust in themselves. The motivations behind them are what make them so.

    Of course, no one said ‘boo’ here when Holopupenko defended AFA’s J.C. Penny boycott against – direct quote – “Ellen Degenerate”. Sorry, I really see a double standard in action.

    But consider what it teaches if the anti-RFRA crowd wins in Indiana and elsewhere: that to support religion is to be intolerant and ugly. That’s a false and damaging message.

    Actually, considering how the ‘clarification’ seems to have settled things down, the objection was to supporting a religious right to discriminate. Other aspects of the RFRA don’t seem to be engendering much controversy.

    Even though you’ve bought into it yourself.

    Even aside from my own clarification above, there’s what I said in the very first comment up there – that RFRA-type exceptions should be available to everyone, not just the religious.

  37. Tom Gilson

    You think the clarification settled things down? Sure. The bullies who wanted to force it in are acting much less belligerent now, and religious freedom take the hindmost.

    You think you understand what happened there. You don’t know what you got. Someday you will. If you don’t live to regret it, your children certainly will.

    RFRA-type exceptions should be available to everyone? WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU SMOKING?

  38. Ray Ingles

    Tom –

    You think you understand what happened there. You don’t know what you got. Someday you will. If you don’t live to regret it, your children certainly will.

    Time will tell, I suppose.

    RFRA-type exceptions should be available to everyone? WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU SMOKING?

    Based on things like U.S. v. Seeger and other cases, it seems perfectly reasonable to me. Of course, I’m also on record here as stating that, based on the First Amendment’s free speech provisions, I think that photographers, cake decorators, and even florists have good grounds for refusing jobs they disagree with.

  39. SteveK

    Not sure how widespread this is and what the lasting impact might be. The one thought that immediately came to mind is the social Darwinism effect of having less Christian’s in the military = more non-Christian’s killed/hurt in battle. Are the freethinkers arguing themselves closer to extinction?

    U.S. military ‘hostile’ to Christians

  40. Ray Ingles

    SteveK- That article seems, well, more than a little alarmist, and full of words like “might” and “may”. (Also, the comments on it are… well, not as civil as the discussion here, I’ll leave it at that.)

    And some of the cases it lists seem of valid concern. I mean, if you have a mandatory meeting, and the leader is advocating their religion, why wouldn’t that be a problem? A couple times I’ve asked here, “Ask yourself how you’d feel if your CO asked, even politely, if you’d ever considered adopting, say, Islam or Wicca.” And then there are things like this; is shutting down that program ‘hostile to Christianity’?

    And then, religious counselors get special privileges with the U.S. military. Soldiers’ consultations with military psychologists are not confidential; consultations with chaplains are. Eliminate that distinction and the use of chaplains might well decline.

    (BTW, more double standards on boycotts. And if the RFRA has friends like these…)

  41. SteveK

    As I said, not sure how widespread and what the impact.

    I mean, if you have a mandatory meeting, and the leader is advocating their religion, why wouldn’t that be a problem?

    It depends on what was said and the situational context. This is always my answer. In some cases it will be a problem, in others it won’t.

    I’ve asked here, “Ask yourself how you’d feel if your CO asked, even politely, if you’d ever considered adopting, say, Islam or Wicca.”

    So this all about feelings? Again, I go back to my usual answer – it depends on what was said and the situational context.

    I’m also smart enough to distinguish between a requirement to listen to someone share their personal convictions about the world and a requirement to accept them as my own. There’s no requirement for the latter. People share their personal convictions (aka worldview) all the time in a multitude of everyday situations. Why are atheists so fussy when it comes to religious convictions being shared openly?

  42. Ray Ingles

    SteveK –

    So this all about feelings?

    Let me quote the entire context of what I wrote before:

    The military bans fraternization between officers and enlisted. In the cases of dating, sexual relationships, etc., fraternization is flatly prohibited – even when the relationship is free from perceived bias, unfairness, coercion, etc. – because some relationships have too much potential for abuse.

    Is it imaginable that evangelization of enlisted troops by their superior officers could be such a circumstance? They have much more power than a boss in civilian life. As the Marine fraternization policy states, “(REMEMBER: when dealing with the subject of fraternization, perceptions are as deadly as reality).”

    So, yeah, it’s feelings… the feeling of being coerced. And the military recognizes that those feelings, perceptions, are important.

    Why are atheists so fussy when it comes to religious convictions being shared openly?

    Generally the issue is when the government is involved in doing it, or when there’s a power differential. Or both. (Another.)

  43. SteveK

    I have the feeling you’re trying to coerce me, Ray.

    Nevertheless, if Christian’s do retreat from the military, that social Darwinism thingy I mentioned might play out.

  44. Ray Ingles

    SteveK – Fortunately, I’m not your boss, your superior officer, or a government employee carrying out my duties, so your feelings of being coerced aren’t in the context I’m talking about. 🙂

    And scientifically, your version of ‘social darwinism’ is just as accurate as the original version.

  45. Robin Palmer

    What right does a citizen have to resist the powers of compulsion invested in the state?

    Does the state have the power to compel me to act in violation of my own conscience?

    The legal question has been addressed innumerable times before and one might argue that it is the most basic civil (human) rights issue and the one that is always addressed in law in some form or another.

    So how did it become all about the gays and the Christians?—when it is a question that involves the rights of every citizen in the country.

    In case you haven’t noticed, the vested instruments of popular culture appeal insistently to the narcissism that we are prone to by nature. There are no two demos (with enormous reserves of disposal income and political power) more susceptible to such pandering than gays (sexual narcissism) and Christians (salvatory narcissism)…

    Sorry, but its not about you.

    It’s about all of us.

  46. Robin Palmer

    My religion permits me to bake gay wedding cakes and even participate in gay weddings. But my religion expressly forbids me to “break bread” with anyone calling themselves a “Christian,” who does not attend my church or observe its ordinances.

    Does the law allow me to do that? Accept gays but discriminate against Christians?

    Could I be a gay baker who refuses to bake a cake for a Christian wedding?

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