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)
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!