Pushing Back Against The Left’s Attack on Religious Freedom

For the left, (and I include most of the MSM, here) Gay Marriage has overtaken Abortion as their holiest sacrament.

That is why we are witnessing this fierce and unhinged push-back against the Indiana law which was designed to protect religious liberties. It is a defensive law, not an offensive one – because for years, religious liberties have been under vicious assault by the secular left and they show no sign of stopping.

Gay rights activists are no longer satisfied with tolerance or even acceptance. They insist that religious objectors not only approve of same sex marriage – they must also participate in their nuptials – under penalty of law.  Christian bakers, florists, photographers, and wedding venue owners are no longer allowed to have freedom of conscience or freedom of association. Those rights are to be trampled underfoot and replaced with “you will be made to care” by people who have no interest in compromise. The next stop down the “my-way highway” is the church’s front steps.

The principle; “That which is not forbidden is mandatory, and that which is not mandatory is forbidden” has been wholly embraced by the totalitarian left.

There have been a number of great pieces by conservative thinkers in recent days, pushing back against the unhinged liberal onslaught. But sadly, Mike Pence, the conservative governor of conservative Indiana, has already capitulated to the mob – even to the point of repeating one of their insipid SSM bumper sticker slogans.

In a press conference Tuesday morning, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) announced that he was asking his state’s legislature to amend a bill it passed last week to make explicit that discrimination against same-sex couples by businesses is not acceptable. That had emerged as the key point of contention following the passage of so-called “religious freedom” legislation, with liberal and gay groups arguing that the law would allow precisely that type of discrimination (thanks in part to Indiana’s lack of protections elsewhere). Putting a fine point on it, Pence embraced inclusivity, saying, “I don’t think anyone should ever be mistreated because of who they are or who they love.”

Oh, good grief.

That’s from the Washington Post piece, “The political war over gay culture is over, and the gays won.”

As Ross Douthat wrote last year after Governor Brewer vetoed the Arizona law, “we are not really having an argument about same-sex marriage anymore, and on the evidence of Arizona, we’re not having a negotiation. Instead, all that’s left is the timing of the final victory — and for the defeated to find out what settlement the victors will impose.”

A year later, Douthat updated his thoughts For Indiana’s Critics:

One of the difficulties in this discussion, from a conservative perspective, is that the definition of “common sense” and “compromise” on these issues has shifted so rapidly in such a short time: Positions taken by, say, the president of the United States and most Democratic politicians a few short years ago are now deemed the purest atavism, the definition of bigotry gets more and more elastic, and developments that social liberals would have described as right-wing scare stories in 2002 or so are now treated as just the most natural extensions of basic American principles. (Rod Dreher calls this the “law of merited impossibility,” in which various follow-on effects of same-sex marriage are dismissed as impossible until they happen, at which point it’s explained that of course they were absolutely necessary.) Of course all of this is happening because underlying attitudes have changed rapidly, and what’s politically and socially possible is changing with them; that’s all understandable. But the pace involved is unusual, and its rapidity makes it very easy to imagine that scenarios that aren’t officially on the table right now will become plausible very, very soon.

Read on – Douthat has a number of questions for RFRA critics.

More Push-back:

Gabe Malor, the Federalist: Your Questions On Indiana’s Religious Freedom Bill, Answered:

What Is a RFRA?

This legislation sets the same minimum standard for burdening the exercise of religion. Under the various RFRAs, a state or the federal government—by law or other action—may not substantially burden an individual’s exercise of religion unless the burden is in furtherance of a compelling government interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest. Twenty states, including Indiana, and the federal government have RFRAs.

What? Government Interest?

Yeah. It’s a lot more nuanced than the news media has allowed. It’s a balancing test for litigation. It puts exercise of religion on one side of the scale and then government interest on the other. If the government’s interest is not important enough—literally compelling—it cannot outweigh an individual’s right to practice his religion as he sees fit.

So RFRAs Don’t License Discrimination?

No. RFRA is a shield, not a sword. It can be used to defend oneself against lawsuits or administrative action. It can’t be used affirmatively to try and deprive others of the protections of law.

Hunter Schwartz in WaPo’s The Fix: 19 states that have ‘religious freedom’ laws like Indiana’s that no one is boycotting:

Forty percent of U.S. states have something similar to Indiana, as does the federal government.

A federal RFRA signed by President Clinton in 1993 shares language with Indiana and other states’ bills, prohibiting the government from “substantially burdening” individuals’ exercise of religion unless it is for a “compelling government interest” and is doing so in the least restrictive means.

The fact that legislation like this is so widespread probably gave Pence some confidence in signing the bill, despite the controversy in Arizona last year over its bill that was ultimately scrapped, and in other states, likeGeorgia, which are considering similar measures this year (the NCSL found 13 additional states are considering their own RFRA legislation).

Ben Domenech, The Federalist: The End of Tolerance And Enforced Morality:

Are you having a fun Culture War 4.0? It’s certainly been a crazy ride for Indiana state representatives, who appear to be caving to pressure to “clarify” RFRA language after being assaulted for being anti-gay. Across the country, the opportunity for grandstanding has been seized by the sort of unserious people you would expect: the Washington governor and Seattle mayor have banned official travel to Indiana in the wake of the law. Connecticut’s governor displayed his own inability to understand the law in his state by banning travel there as well. And I’m fine with that, because hey, government officials shouldn’t be using taxpayer money to travel all over the place anyway, even if it does mean Washington and Connecticut officials will miss out on the memorial service for Lil’ Sebastian.

The notable thing about Culture War 4.0 is its consistent rejection of tolerance in favor of government enforced morality. Remember your Muad’Dib: “When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles.”

Rod Dreher, the American Conservative: Indiana: The Holy War of the Left:

Today’s Indianapolis Star front page uses the headline approach usually reserved for war. Because that’s what this is: culture war, and the mainstream media, as a vital part of the progressive movement, is waging total war for a cause they believe is holy. I’m not exaggerating. To most of the media, there is no other side in the gay marriage debate, or on anything to do with gay rights. There is only Good and Evil. And so we have the spectacle of a moral panic that makes a party that is a chief beneficiary of the First Amendment — a newspaper — taking unprecedented steps to suppress a party that is the other chief beneficiary of the First Amendment: religious dissenters. In my experience, it is impossible to overstate how sacred this cause is to American elites, especially journalists.

If you thought this was ever about fairness, justice, tolerance, or reason, you now ought to have had your eyes opened.

The spirit of jihad has so overtaken the left that the Democratic governor of Connecticut has forbidden his state government to travel to Indiana on state business. Has that ever happened in America? Back when there was actual segregation, did states do that to each other? And get this: Gov. Dan Malloy is such a crusading idiot that he doesn’t even realize that his own state has a version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that it passed in 1993!

Malloy’s act, like the Indy Star‘s, are characteristic of liberalism’s unhinged reaction to Indiana’s law. If you are not watching this and seeing the future of religious liberty in this country, if you are not observing and taking note of the power the Establishment — political, media, big business — is deploying to crush a law that even a pro-gay liberal like Boston University’s Stephen Prothero says is a fair and necessary measure to support a fundamental liberal value (religious freedom), and if you are not thinking about the Supreme Court and the next presidential election — if you are not watching and learning, you are a fool.

Red State: Indiana’s RFRA law and the left’s change of heart on religious freedom:

What the Indiana law does is summed up very well in the statement by President Bill Clinton when he signed the federal RFRA into law:

So today I ask you to also think of that. We are a people of faith. We have been so secure in that faith that we have enshrined in our Constitution protection for people who profess no faith. And good for us for doing so. That is what the first amendment is all about. But let us never believe that the freedom of religion imposes on any of us some responsibility to run from our convictions. Let us instead respect one another’s faiths, fight to the death to preserve the right of every American to practice whatever convictions he or she has, but bring our values back to the table of American discourse to heal our troubled land.

The people protesting the Indiana law have given away their game. They oppose the Indiana law because private citizens can use it to defend themselves from harassment and intimidation by homosexual activists and their catchfarts. It upsets their agenda of suing Christians and Christian organizations into submission and reveals their claim to want “equality” to be the lie we’ve always known it is.

Guy Benson, Townhall: The Fact-Free Meltdown Over Indiana’s New Religious Freedom Law:

As you may have gathered via breathless headlines and hyperbolic social media rants, Indiana Governor Mike Pence recently signed into law a draconian attack on LGBT rights under the guise of “religious liberty.” This unprecedented assault on equality, or whatever, has elicited strident condemnations and boycott threats from a number of celebrities and organizations.  Almost all of this hyperventilating is rooted in some brew of abject ignorance, mindless alarmism, and ostentatious moral preening.  The latter, anti-intellectual phenomenon is especially widespread: “Look at me, I’m a good person because I’m outraged about this terrible law, about which I know very little. Those who disagree with me are exposing themselves as bad people who support discrimination against gay people, which offends my tolerant and progressive sensibilities, of which I’m reminding everyone right now.”  

National Review: Liberals against Religious Liberty in Indiana:

RFRA enjoyed wide bipartisan support until the Hobby Lobby case reminded Democrats that they care a great deal more about Obamacare and contraceptive subsidies than they do about the religious liberties of people who hold views that inconvenience the Democrats’ political platform. RFRA, in both the federal and the Indiana versions, is a piece of law aimed at allowing for the emergence of social compromise. RFRA reasoning does not give religious persons or institutions the power to simply ignore laws that conflict with their consciences; rather, it compels the government to demonstrate a compelling government interest when it burdens religious expression, and to accomplish any substantial burdening of religious liberty in the least invasive manner. Both of those requirements — compelling government interest, least burdensome means — are open to a considerable degree of interpretation, which is of course by design: That is what allows a modus vivendi to emerge. Gay-rights activism is, just at the moment, very much oriented toward preventing the emergence of any social compromise on the matter of homosexual marriage, which is why tradition-minded florists and bakers, generally conservative Christians, are being targeted for prosecution as enemies of civil rights.

Ramesh Ponnuru, Bloomberg: Tim Cook Needs to Do Some Homework:

Tim Cook, the chief executive officer of Apple, is spreading misinformation about a new religious-freedom law in Indiana.

That law and similar ones, he writes in the Washington Post, “say individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law.” He goes on to claim that they “rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality.”

Discrimination against gay customers or employees is what opponents of the law are especially concerned about. But that’s a strange argument to make in the context of Indiana, which lacks any state nondiscrimination law on sexual orientation for people to resist. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is legal almost everywhere in the state, and was before this religious-freedom law passed.

Cook may not be aware of this point or others that cut against his argument because reporting on this controversy has been abysmal. Cook may also be unaware that the “wave of legislation” that he fears has largely already happened. A very similar religious-freedom law has been on the federal books for 22 years, and that law itself codified a Supreme Court doctrine that had been in place for most of the previous few decades. Nineteen states besides Indiana have similar laws. The laws don’t seem to be abetting a rising tide of discrimination based on sexual orientation, or based on anything else.

AoSHQ: Apple’s Gay CEO Tim Cook Wants to Boycott Indiana for Its Allegedly Anti-Gay RFRA, But Will Gladly Sell You an iPhone At Its Boutique in Riyadh, Where They’ll Stone You to Death For Being Gay:

I would seriously pin Apple’s ears back over this. If you’re a stockholder, write to them. Demand they stop selling iPhones in any country in which homosexuality remains a crime. (Homosexuality is an on-the-books crime in most countries, still, not just the ones where they actually stone gays to death.)

Tim Cook, and all the rest of the gay leftwing bullies, are of course bullying people.

As usual.

Few people ever refused service to gays at bakeries before gay marriage. There was not some great scourge of people refusing service to gays.

What people are doing is refusing to take part in a gay marriage ceremony.

Mental Recession: Cuomo Bans Government Travel to Indiana:

The RFRA has been intolerantly attacked by those in the LGBT and far-left communities as being a license to discriminate, a completely false argument to say the least.  Multiple states have had RFRA laws in effect, none of which allow for discrimination.

Stanford law professor Michael McConnell, a former appellate court judge, told The Weekly Standard: “In the decades that states have had RFRA statutes, no business has been given the right to discriminate against gay customers, or anyone else.”

Still, Cuomo has taken directives from his far-left base and issued the travel ban.

Mollie Hemingway, The Federalist: Meet 10 Americans Helped By Religious Freedom Bills Like Indiana’s:

If it’s not some new-fangled invention designed to hurt gay people, what is it about? No better way to learn than by looking at some recent RFRA cases at the state and federal level.

If you oppose Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, these are the real people you are hurting.

1) Most recent RFRA winner: Lipan Apache religious leader Robert Soto

Just a few weeks ago, on March 10, the federal government returned the eagle feathersit had seized nine years prior from a Native American religious leader and famed feather dancer Robert Soto. He had appealed the seizure of the eagle feathers, for which he faced 15 years in a federal penitentiary and a $250,000 fine, on Religious Freedom Restoration Act grounds.

The feds had sent undercover agents to a powwow in 2006 to confiscate the feathers, which are central to Soto’s Native American faith. The federal government prohibits possession of eagle feathers without a permit and only grants permits to museums, scientists, zoos, farmers, large power companies and federally recognized tribes. Even though the Lipan Apaches are recognized by the State of Texas, historians and sociologists, they’re not recognized by the feds.

Quin Hillyer, National Review: Baking Liberty of Conscience into the Cake:

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce, as Chambers tend to do, ran kow-towingly for the nearest microphone to assure all the trendy-sensitive hordes that it recognizes the new law as “divisive and unnecessary.” As usual, it seems as if corporate bigwigs care only selectively about First Amendment liberties, valuing the Citizens United freedoms that let them buy political influence while being perfectly willing to ignore protections for other speech, religious exercise, and conscience. Meanwhile, Friday brought a horrendous, indeed vicious, decision by a county court in Washington State ordering a 70-year-old grandmother to pay attorney’s fees to Washington’s attorney general, who sued her because she refused to provide floral arrangements for a same-sex ceremony. “It’s about freedom, not money,” wrote the florist, Barronelle Stutzman, to the attorney general, Bob Ferguson, back in February. “I certainly don’t relish the idea of losing my business, my home, and everything else that your lawsuit threatens to take from my family, but my freedom to honor God in doing what I do best is more important. . . . You chose to attack my faith and pursue this not simply as a matter of law, but to threaten my very means of working, eating, and having a home.” Flowers and wedding cakes are neither public conveyances nor necessary for human sustenance; and a choice to hold a ceremony is far from an immutable characteristic like skin pigmentation. There is no shortage of businesses that will gladly serve people choosing non-traditional arrangements. This is not Mississippi Burning; it’s just a conscientious decision not to engage in purely voluntary commerce in a free society.

Bookworm Room: Jesus would have supported RFRA:

The RFRA fight is not about protecting gays from discrimination. While the ignorant sheeple who are going around screaming about boycotting Indiana are incapable of understanding this, the people spearheading the charge know perfectly well that RFRA is in essence a shorthand for the established constitutional principle that states may not impose on religion without a compelling reason.

These same operators have a clear ultimate goal, which is to see religion overturned. Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Castro, and all the other Leftists who took over Judeo-Christian countries understood that traditional religion, with its emphasis on personal responsibility, justice, morality, and grace, is the enemy of socialism and tyranny. In America, though, because the Constitution precludes direct attacks on Christianity, gay marriage represents a back door way to destroy both the faith and the faithful.  The tactic is working too, as Gov. Pence has already pretty much surrendered.

Conservative HQ: Liberals Want the Right to Persecute Christians:

Christians are the world’s most persecuted faith according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, but you don’t have to look across the ocean to find the latest and, given America’s foundation of religious freedom, one of the most egregious examples of the economic persecution of Christians – it is happening in Indiana USA right now.

An assortment of radical leftwing groups and liberal corporate interests have declared war on Christians and other persons of faith and are threatening Indiana’s conservative Governor Mike Pence with an economic boycott over the passage of the state’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act would protect believers like Jack Phillips, the baker-owner of Masterpiece Cake Shop in Lakewood, Colorado refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple and has been driven out of business by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

It would protect New Mexico photographer Elaine Huguenin who was likewise persecuted for refusing to participate in a same-sex wedding.

It would protect Aaron and Melissa Klein who own and operate Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Portland, Oregon and found themselves the target of a lesbian couple who filed a complaint with the state, accusing the shop owners of discrimination because they refused to participate in the couple’s same-sex wedding by baking them a wedding cake.

And it would protect 70-year-old Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington, who was found guilty of violating the Washington’s non-discrimination law in February, after referring a same-sex couple to another florist when they asked her to provide the floral arrangements for their wedding.

In an order making her a judicial slave, Benton County Superior Court Judge Alex Ekstrom’s summary judgement orders Stutzman to pay a fine of $1,001, and forces her to provide services for same-sex weddings. Stutzman is at risk of losing her retirement savings and business as she will be responsible for paying the legal fees and damages incurred by her persecutors, who were represented by the ACLU.

And it would protect any other believer who expressed a belief in Christian values and wish to live them publicly.

25 thoughts on “Pushing Back Against The Left’s Attack on Religious Freedom

  1. I like Mike Pence, but he did himself no favors when he went into his Ralph Kramden routine on This Week with Steffie. Of course he also got no assist from his fellow republicans back home either, who sold him out.

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  5. Great post, Ms. Deb. This is not about gay rights. It is all about delegitimizing religion and forcing it out of the public square, gay rights just being the latest tool to accomplish that end. If you wonder how this happened so fast in our society, most people seem to overlook the role of the courts, who several years ago began to discover a wholly new right to gay marriage. Understand that when the 14th Amendment was passed, homosexuality was still largely outlawed in the U.S. To say that the Equal Rights provision contemplated gay marriage is ridiculous.

    The bottom line, gay rights and gay marriage are social issues falling outside the Constitutional provisions of the federal Constitution and virtually all similar state provisions. Religion is not, but that is being ignored by the Courts who are once again moving our nation far to the left at their own whim.

    Last point, the left has relied on Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists for the past half century to establish a “wall between Church and State” that appears nowhere in the Constitution. The “wall” language appears in the opening paragraphs of Jefferson’s letter. Interestingly enough, the second half of Jefferson’s letter reads like the RFRA, ensuring that government will never burden religion or religious conscience. It is past time we started requiring the left to honor all of Mr. Jefferson’s understanding of what the religious provisions of the First Amendment stand for.

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