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Following up on RFRA

By Scott Tibbs, April 6, 2015

A commenter left a long response to my editorial last week supporting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana. Here is my response to that comment.

  • This was never intended to ensure that the majority can use religious pretext as an excuse to discriminate against disfavored minorities.

The issue in the RFRA (which has since been clarified) is not discrimination against any minority. The issue is that Christian business owners do not want to be forced to participate in a same-sex wedding - whether by taking photographs of the wedding or providing food or flowers. You do not see broad-based discrimination right now, and you would not have seen it even if the original version of RFRA had become law in July. By expanding it far beyond the real issue, RFRA opponents are intentionally distorting the facts.

  • Further, it has since been perverted by the Hobby Lobby decision to, somehow, encompass a corporation's religious conscience.

A corporation is a legal entity, but a corporation is made up of people. Jut because people organize their business under a corporation (which is necessary for a wide variety of legal reasons) does not mean the owners' free exercise of religion is any less burdened by being forced to provide objectionable drugs - or being forced to participate in a same sex-wedding.

  • With respect to the law that Barack Obama voted for in IL, remember that IL indeed has sexual orientation listed in its civil rights laws as a protected class.

It is factually correct that Illinois currently includes sexual orientation as a protected class. However, that claim is extremely misleading because that was not the case when Obama voted for it as a state senator. Sexual orientation was not added to the civil rights code in Illinois until 2005, almost a full decade later and after Obama was serving in the United States Senate.

  • You are indeed correct that IN RFRA changes nothing. It doesn't matter.

It does matter, because appearances are not facts and the legal reality is what it is. By admitting the RFRA changes nothing, you are admitting that the national firestorm and economic boycotts over the "discrimination" supposedly allowed by RFRA were based on misinformation, whether intentional or not.

  • Let me put this clearly to you: If you're in the business of selling flowers, you have to sell them to all comers. If you're in the business of catering weddings, you have to cater to all comers. Period.

Why? That is a serious question. Why must a business be forced to facilitate all events, even ones the owners find morally objectionable? Just because something is a tradition does mean it is right. If we are going to substantially burden someone's free exercise of religion, there needs to be a compelling state interest to do so. Is it a compelling state interest to force one baker or florist to endorse homosexuality when a couple could easily go to a different business where the owners would be more than happy to take their money?

At its core, this is not about equal protection under the law. It is not about tolerance. It is about mandatory acceptance of homosexuality. It is not a compelling state interest to force Christians (or Muslims, Jews or anyone else) to accept and endorse homosexual behavior. If we are interested in tolerance, then that tolerance needs to go both ways. Otherwise it is not tolerance at all. It is tyranny.

And yes - If government forces a Christian-owned business to provide flowers or a cake to a homosexual wedding, that is forced endorsement and acceptance of homosexual behavior. It is not up to you or anyone else to determine whether an individual's conscience on this matter is reasonable or not, especially given Christian submission to Scriptures that predate these United States by thousands of years.