So you’ve heard about the new law in Indiana, right?
I mean, it’s made the news here in Texas, where any news story that’s not about Texas had better be about sports, or it’ll be regarded with suspicion…, so it must be a really big and controversial story…, right?!
Okay, on the off chance that you’ve had your head buried in the sand, here’s the scoop.
A lot of people are very upset because the state of Indiana has just enacted a law which, it is claimed, allows business owners to refuse to serve homosexuals, if said business owner has a religious objection to homosexuality.
Another group of people have responded to that claim by saying, “nu uh!”
And yet a third group, is busy shouting “God Hates Fags!” at anyone who is foolish enough to wander into the comments section of any news story relating to this law, or to any news story, about almost anything. But mother always said it was unkind to stare at those less fortunate than ourselves, so let’s turn our attention away from the ignorant hooting, and examine, instead, the actual claims about this particular bit of legislation.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Hmmm…, having read through it, I’ve got to say that, if anything, it suffers from being poorly named.
Has anyone, Christian, Buddhist, Wiccan, or Jew, been denied the right to worship their god or gods as they see fit? Have any churches been shuttered? Have the stormtroopers of vile secularism kicked in the doors of private homes and stolen away with menorahs, prayer mats, advent calendars, and the like?
In what circumstance, has government prohibited the free exercise of religion, in the state of Indiana, (or any of the other states where similar laws hold sway), that we need legislation, specifically enacted, to restore our lost religious liberty?
I ask because, the only examples anyone seems to be able to provide, involve bakers not wanting to produce confections for gay weddings. I’ve studied a great many religions, over the years. More, in fact, than I could easily name. And I have yet to encounter one where baking constituted an act of faith.
I am open to the possibility that adherents of such a faith might be prone to die off quickly, of cholesterol poisoning most likely, thus keeping their numbers dangerously low, and their overall presence off of my religious radar. But I have serious doubts.
So, until someone can demonstrate some other, greater need for this legislation, what we do seem to have is a law that shields from legal action, a business which refuses service to anyone, on the basis of that business owners religious belief.
Realistically, we also have a law which appears to be named in the sensationalist hope, of attracting the attention (and shall I say votes) of those very same folks, the loud hooting ones, from whom we are trying diligently, to avert our gaze.
Okay, fine. We may think it ugly, but it’s there. And right or wrong, the state of Indiana is getting something of a black eye because of it.
So here’s another question to consider: Is it Constitutional?
I don’t know, and the learned opinions on the matter seem to differ, but sooner or later, I think we’re going to find out.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
I don’t understand how baking a cake for a gay wedding, as long as said cake is no different than those you usually produce in the course of your business, can be abhorrent to the religious beliefs or any reasoning person. And maybe, this is because it hasn’t been explained to me properly yet.
But in the course of my own career, I have performed technical support, designed advertising and marketing materials, built homes for, and sold actual artwork of my own creation, to people whom I have found to be reprehensible for any number of reasons, including their particular religious beliefs. I have done this, not because I value the dollar more than my own ideals, but because I firmly believe that everyone should be equal in the marketplace. My ancestors once had to deal with storefront signs that read ‘No Irish’, and I will never, knowingly, demean another human being in that way.
So, pending more evidence, the ‘non-establishment clause’ would seem to be out of the picture.
So what, then, about the Freedom of Association?
I’ve often heard this touted as a constitutionally mandated right, allowing certain folks the freedom to avoid contact with other folks whom they don’t like.
And that would be fine, except that it is nothing of the kind.
The right of association is not even explicitly mentioned in the constitution, but is, rather, a modern day extension of the freedom to ‘peaceably assemble’. My research shows that the right of association came into vogue during the civil rights movement when certain groups were putting a lot of energy into either preventing meetings of the NAACP, or forcing that group to turn over lists of its membership.
In any case, the right, as it is commonly expressed, has never been one of ‘disassociation’. The intent, as I understand it, is to make it clear that you are free to interact with whoever you want to, for whatever reason that is not already prohibited by law. There’s nothing there about a guarantee that you will not have to interact with people that you don’t like.
In other words the freedom of association, does not give you the right to turn people away from your business, simply because you don’t like them, or their beliefs.
Am I missing something? Is there something in the Indiana law, or any of the others (including the federal version) that cause it to pass Constitutional muster? If so, I welcome anyone with a reasoned argument in favor of these laws, to explain it to me.
Show me, please! Demonstrate to me that there is a very real need for these laws. Show me that they will be useful to members of minority religions in exactly the same way they are useful to the Christian majority that feels so threatened. Give me reason to believe that this is more than simple discrimination couched in legal terminology.
Because the alternative…,
The alternative is that these laws are put in place in the hope that they will be challenged. Certainly, the first group of folks I mentioned at the beginning of this post are getting worked up over the prospect of a legal fight.
And the second group? They have to know that a challenge is coming. And another, and another, until someone lands in front of the right court at the right time, and then…,
And it’s certainly not about some poor beleaguered baker being forced against her will to apply frosting rosettes to a cake that will be consumed following a same-sex union she will never see.
It’s all about that third group, that rabid mob which is so blinkered by its own insecurity that they have rejected the Christ of the Bible, the one who would likely have embraced the homosexual with the same love and compassion he is said to have shown the prostitute and the adulterer, (perhaps even selling him a nice set of table and chairs from his step-dad’s workshop), and replaced him with the same kind of self-righteous ass, their own scriptures always show him preaching against.
My fear is that it’s really all about keeping them riled up and jonesing for a fight.
But what happens when that monster gets out of control?
Who will these laws protect, when there is blood in the streets?