SB 101 Demystified


Psalms 80:1-87:7

My friends, the internet has virtually exploded this week in controversy. You guessed it. I’m talking about Indiana Senate Bill 101, aka the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). According to my seven hours of researching reputable resources, it’s NOT about discrimination, like some “sources” would have you believe. The RFRA is about limiting the government from forcing someone to do something against their religious beliefs. And unless I’m mistaken that is precisely the premise our good nation was founded on, was it not?!

There are 30 other states that have this, or similar laws, in place. And according to University of Virginia’s law professor, Douglas Laycock, in those other states “There were cases about Amish buggies, hunting moose for native Alaskan funeral rituals, an attempt to take a church building by eminent domain, landmark laws that prohibited churches from modifying their buildings – all sorts of diverse conflicts between religious practice and pervasive regulation.” (31 states have heightened religious freedom protections. Juliet Eilperin. The Washington Post)


Thank you to the Washington Post for this photo.

According to the Indiana Senate Republicans blog, “In the decades that federal and state courts have been interpreting RFRA laws, opponents cannot point to a single case in which a court has ruled that the RFRA allows discrimination based on sexual orientation.” In other words, not ONE of the thirty states that also have this law (or similar ones) have ever had a case where this law has given license to discrimination in the state. Not one.

In his article in the Indy Star, David O. Conkle, a professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law explains that according to this law, “a unanimous US Supreme Court recently ruled that a Muslim prisoner was free to practice his faith by wearing a half-inch beard that posed no risk to prison security. Likewise, in a 2012 decision, a court ruled that the Pennsylvania RFRA protected the outreach ministry of a group of Philadelphia churches, ruling that the city could not bar them from feeding homeless individuals in the city parks.” 

This law has nothing to do with discrimination and everything to do with our rights as Americans to practice our chosen religion freely without the government stepping in and telling us we can’t. In 1990, in the case Employment Division v. Smith, the Supreme Court “downgraded” religious freedoms within America. “National leaders of all political stripes responded by passing the federal RFRA to restore the strict scrutiny test, because they recognized that religious liberty is a fundamental right that deserves strong legal protection. … The bipartisan respect for religious freedom has also carried over to the votes for most state-level RFRA’s. For example, when President Obama was an Illinois State Senator in 1998, he voted for Illinois’ RFRA.” (From the Indiana Senate Republican blog)

My friends, it bears repeating, there is NO history of this law resulting in any discrimination of any kind that would constitute the amount of outrage over it’s passage in Indiana. In fact, if anything we should all be rejoicing that our great state of Indiana just passed a law that will protect us from the great state of Indiana! This law was passed in an effort to let Hoosiers know that their government cares about their RELIGIOUS FREEDOM just like the other thirty states that have passed the law (or similar ones) before us. And I ask you, if this law is truly such a hideous thing that gives license to discriminate against gay-marriage, where was all the hype when the first thirty states passed the law? Including, but not limited to when Obama passed it in Illinois. This is not a law to fear, but to embrace no matter what your belief system is!

Categories: 365 Life, Psalms, Season 3, Sheridan Reporter, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “SB 101 Demystified

  1. Tim johnson

    Tyra: indiana’s Religious Freedom Act. Is a issue because of how it is worded. Gov. Pence is back peddling full speed to try to explain it (see 3-31-15 Wallstreat Journal interview!) ” oh I am not for bias” he says! What a cartload of lies! Republican majorities in IN and Nationally in House & Senete keep getting themselves in trouble so much that our good Senetor Coats isn’t running again. Jesus Christ talked with sinners, tax collectors, & prostitutes it was the Pharices (established men of the Law) that he dispised as two faced sinners! Ok we disagree about the RFRA, “he’s just a flaming liberal you might say, but I know who the Pharises of today are and I respect & love you & Sean & your family, but on this issue we are going to disagree. Tim Johnson

  2. JT

    Read this blog post in the Hamilton County Reporter today. Sorry, but you’re completely off base. For you to say what you have, either you are woefully ignorant in your comprehension or you’re just completely lying. I’m going to hope you are just woefully ignorant considering the theme of this blog.

    The difference between the Indiana RFRA and the Federal or other state’s RFRA is that the Indiana one applies regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding. So basically, people (and businesses – because Indiana put that provision in there) can sue under the law whenever they feel anyone is interfering with their religious freedoms. As I mentioned before, the Indiana RFRA includes businesses after the TERRIBLE Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision.

    The original intent of the 1993 Federal RFRA was to protect Native Americans from a federal ban on peyote. Since the Federal RFRA wasn’t able to be applied to state governments, the states started to make their own.The difference now, is that the Indiana RFRA comes after the completely embarrassing loss to Republicans over the same sex marriage debate. It was completely written in tantrum and response to discriminate. This has been proven by Advance America’s complete admission to it.

    The BIGGEST difference between Indiana and the others is that the others have civil rights protections that include sexual orientation and gender identity. Indiana does NOT and Pence has repeatedly said that it is not on his “agenda” to include that.

    You may be all happy and everything because YAY! RELIGIOUS FREEDOM…. but what about freedom FROM religion? If I remember correctly, we started to immigrate over here because people wanted to practice a different faith than what was allowed or none at all. Religious Freedom is great but it also comes with the caveat that not everyone have to submit to yours.

    It may make sense from your worldview that bakeries and florists and photographers not have to be forced to provide their services for a wedding they deem “icky”. However, the only “religious” aspect of a wedding is the actual ceremony (and even that doesn’t have to be religious). The baker’s job is to bake the cake that is presented at the reception. The florists job is to put the flowers in the vase. The photographers job is to take pictures. That’s it. Their obligation to the event is no more, no less. If they want to exclude an entire set of the population because they don’t agree with the type of wedding it is, then they should just not provide services for weddings period. If you can’t treat everybody the same, then just don’t provide the service. It’s simple really. Do you think these florists and bakers are asking if this is a second or third marriage? Are they saying no to heterosexual couples that have sex or live together before marriage? Are they saying no to heterosexual couples that decide to have their wedding officiated by someone other than a priest? What about when the wedding is outside of a church? What if the reception has shellfish? The silly thing about the religious and their aversion to the LGBT community is that it’s such a cherry picked thing to be against.

    You can have your religious beliefs. NO ONE is trying to take them away from you. However, your “beliefs” need to remain in the confines of your personal life. Theoretically, we should have a secular government that respects your beliefs but does not codify them into law. THAT is what is driving the animus towards your faith. People with different faiths or LACK of faith completely are just tired of the Christian Theocracy that America is trying so hard to become. Your beliefs do not trump my rights. This Christian persecution complex in America needs to stop. You are not being persecuted against for your beliefs. You are being stood up to by people who are tired of all the religious crap seeping into government, which then creeps its way into my personal life. I would prefer you keep your God as far away from me as possible. If you would like to know what persecution feels like, ask Matthew Shepard. Ask the thousands of gay children in schools that are assaulted on a daily basis for their sexual orientation (whether it be true or perceived). THAT is persecution. I have never once in my life growing up heard someone yell, “CHRISTIAN!” down the hall or street and then proceed to beat the living shit out of another human being, but I have heard “FAGGOT!” be screamed at me before the violent blows of fists in my face.

    Your blog post was well meant I’m sure, but the factual inaccuracies can’t be overlooked. And the fact that it was posted in the paper to spread the misinformation you seem to be against is disingenuous.

    • Tim johnson

      Tamar: I respect your feeling about Indiana’s RFRA but completely disagree with you. Indiana’s RFRA is different than the 31, now 32 with Arkansas being signed yesterday. Other states RFRA are based on allowing religious freedom, so is the US Constitutions First Amendment. Governor Pence is desperately trying to “get HR 101 fixed”. I think that’s good need I say anymore? Have a great day, Your Freind (at least I though so) Tim Johnson

      • JT and Tim, I thank you deeply for your comments. I want to respond to you fully, but at the moment but the kids and I just got home from a long day at the IMA and dinner needs to be prepared still – irregardless if my aching feet and exhausted state. However I couldn’t let another minute go by without at least acknowledging the fact that you’ve commented on my writing. Tim, you are a frequent commenter (my MOST frequent in fact – you have NO idea how much that means to me. You are precious to me my friend!)
        And JT, I’ve been writing in the Hamilton County Reporter for the last two and a half years from it’s very inception. I include my website and even my email regularly and yet you are the very FIRST person to EVER put forth the effort to come online and comment. THANK YOU! That too is priceless to me. Your comment absolutely breaks my heart. You say you would prefer for me to keep my God as far away from you as possible, and it’s literally making me weep. If you knew my God the way I know Him you would run to Him as fast as you’re legs could carry you. I freely admit that I do not know this law, or any really for that matter. I don’t even have the Ten Commandments memorized if you can believe that. But what I DO know is Jesus. I know that Jesus LOVES you. I know that while I may not have experienced the kind of rejection that you have, HE HAS. He was spit on, He was beaten with whips that had glass and fish hooks and nails woven into them. He was mocked mercilessly just for being who God made Him to be, and then He was killed in one of the most brutal ways humanity has invented to date. And He did all that for JT. He knows what you’ve gone through. He knows that you’ve been mocked and shamed by people claiming His name. Sometimes we don’t represent Him very well. Actually, if we’re really honest with ourselves, we never represent Him well.
        JT, I don’t know if anyone has ever told you this before but I promise you it’s the God’s honest truth. JT, Jesus loves YOU. He loves the very core of the center of what makes you JT and every other part of you as well.
        And you know what, so do I. I love you. And, this may seem weird, but I actually would really like to meet you. Not to convert you, or try to help you change your mind, in fact, if you’d like i won’t even speak at all, I just want to hug you! It’s obvious by your Words that there is much pain in your heart from a lifetime of people who refused to listen to you, or give you the time of day. (And THAT I can relate to more than you can imagine.) From the bottom of this Christian mother’s heart, I’m so sorry.
        As for SB 101 and the article, I loathe politics, I’ve made it a point to stay as far away from them as I possibly could my entire life. Truly this is not an exaggeration. I loathe them and I wasn’t all too thrilled about writing about them. But I did because something inside me felt like it was important. And maybe you were that reason. That perhaps you and I need to be friends. Email me if you’d like to connect:

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