Recently Indiana passed and the Governor signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. By doing so Indiana joined a majority of states which have such protections for religious freedom. There is also a federal version of the act which was passed overwhelmingly by Congress in 1993 and signed into law by President Clinton. Here are the operative sections of both the Federal and State Acts:
A governmental entity may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if the governmental entity demonstrates that application of the burden to the person: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
Go here for the complete text of the Act. States enacted their own version of the statute because the Supreme Court in 1997 ruled rightfully that the federal act was not applicable to state laws or local ordinances.
What does this have to do with GenCon, the gaming convention held in Indianapolis that I and my bride have been attending since 1986?
Well, homosexual activists have been busily portraying this statute as a license to discriminate against gays, and the head of GenCon decided to get on this band wagon. Go here to read the letter by Adrian Swartout.
The ignorance contained in the letter is simply stunning. Swartout is apparently bone ignorant as to the federal version of the act and how many states have similar acts. Swartout also is apparently ignorant of the fact that the Act could only be used if a government seeks to discriminate against an individual or business on the basis of their religion. The only possible applicability to homosexuals would be if a government sought to take action against a business that discriminated against gays. The only businesses where such a contention would survive judicial analysis would be those where the owners could demonstrate that their religious beliefs forbid providing a service, such as baking a cake for a gay wedding. The idea that this statute would have any impact on services provided to convention attendees in downtown Indie is simply farcial. Of course all the hoopla about the Act has nothing to do with the law or facts, but everything to do with the flexing of political muscles by gay activists. This tempest also demonstrates that religious freedom is simply not going to be tolerated by those who shriek loudest for tolerance.
A baker not wishing to be compelled to make a cake for a homosexual wedding might as well be a member of the SS according to Diann Rice a member of the hilariously misnamed Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The Left merrily continues on its mission to stamp out every one of the freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights in the name of tolerance:
“I would also like to reiterate what we said in the last meeting [on Mr. Phillips]. Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust,” Ms. Rice said at the July 25 hearing.
“I mean, we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination,” Ms. Rice said. “And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use — to use their religion to hurt others.”
Jeremy Tedesco, ADF senior legal counsel, said in a statement that Ms. Rice’s comments reveal an “anti-religious bigotry” that “undermines the integrity of the entire process and the commission’s order as well.” Continue reading
A popular tactic on the left today, and for the past several decades in this country for that matter, is to strong arm adversaries and shout them down. Faithful readers of this blog will recall the “feminist studies” professor Miller-Young who went berserk when confronted with a group of young pro-life women peacefully presenting information on abortion at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Go here, here and here to read about it. The following is an account by one of the pro-lifers present, Mairead McArdle, a student at Saint Thomas Aquinas College:
When the incident began I was using the sign in the “free-speech zone” to start conversations with people passing by. I began a calm, rational conversation with Professor Young, asking her what her thoughts were on our position and our sign.
Each time I tried to speak to Miller-Young, she would interrupt to yell at me. I also talked to at least three of the students who had gathered around. Because the situation was already hostile, however, and they threw insults me. Continue reading
For if Men are to be precluded from offering their Sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences, that can invite the consideration of Mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of Speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter.
One of the interesting fall outs of the rampages in Cairo and Benghazi is the calls by some on the Left for jailing people for exercising freedom of speech. Eugene Volokh of The Volokh Conspiracy blog pointed this out yesterday:
That’s what MSBNC contributors Mike Barnicle and Donny Deutsch, the University of Pennsylvania’s Prof. Anthea Butler (Religious Studies), and of course the Egyptian government argue with regard to the movie that mocks Mohammed:
Prof. Butler: “Good Morning. How soon is Sam Bacile going to be in jail folks? I need him to go now.When Americans die because you are stupid…” “And yes, I know we have First Amendment rights,but if you don’t understand the Religion you hate, STFU about it. Yes, I am ticked off.” “And people do go to jail for speech. First Amendment doesn’t cover EVERYTHING a PERSON says.” “[T]he murder of the Ambassador and the employees is wrong, wrong. But Bacile will have to face his actions which he had freedom[.]”
Mike Barnicle: “Given this supposed minister’s role in last year’s riots in Afghanistan, where people died, and given his apparent or his alleged role in this film, where, not yet nailed down, but at least one American, perhaps the American ambassador is dead, it might be time for the Department of Justice to start viewing his role as an accessory before or after the fact.”
In a way this is an unsurprising development. The Left in this country, with honorable exceptions, has not been overly fond of the concept of free speech for some time. Speech codes seeking to hamper the free speech rights of conservatives and Christians have been a staple at many colleges and universities for the past twenty years. Conservative speakers are routinely shouted down when they speak on campuses. The recent attack on Chik-Fil-A by the Mayors of Boston and Chicago was merely the latest manifestation of the willingness of many on the Left to use government power to suppress views they hate. Continue reading