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The Tentacle


April 17, 2015

Hypocritical Bigotry Aimed at The Constitution

Joe Charlebois

It isn’t often that the keyboard strokes created by this author insult those who hold views that are contrary, but those that purposely spread false narratives regarding  those who support religious freedom – as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution – are useless tools.

Recently the State of Indiana passed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) similar to the one signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton in 1993. In fact, Indiana is far behind many other states and the federal government to implement such legislation. When a court ruling in 1997 stated that RFRA only applied to federal law, nearly 20 states introduced and passed their own RFRA laws, or amended their state constitution that would apply to state and local laws.

Indiana’s current legislation is leading a second wave of RFRA law introductions. This wave isn’t a latent response to the 1997 ruling, but rather a reaction to judicial decisions such as those made in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., case which attempt to balance civil rights with First Amendment rights to freely practice one’s religion.

Opponents of religious freedom have attempted to brand the Indiana RFRA law as a “license to discriminate” as many celebrities, politicians, and corporate leaders have piled on the Indiana legislature and Gov. Mike Pence (R) with calls for economic boycotts. Simply put, it is not an anti-gay measure. It is a law that states individuals, organizations and businesses have a right to present their case in court on the basis of Firsts Amendment protection.

It reads:

Sec. 8. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), a governmental entity may not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.

(b) 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.

If this act is nothing more than allowing an individual or other entity to defend their actions in court, then what is the real reason that there is nationwide castigation of Indiana, and why are the loudest voices so hypocritical?

It is not surprising that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LBGT) groups and those who support their agenda would target an institution – for boycott and demonstrations – that they believe is discriminating against homosexuals. What is surprising, and somewhat ironic, is that they have not actively targeted the federal RFRA law, nor have they targeted the 20 other states that have previously passed RFRA.

Now that the presidential race has four announced candidates, and political operatives are in full swing attempting to smear anyone with the potential to become a candidate for the highest office, it is not surprising to see Governor Pence targeted. It is possible that all this focus may be directed at Indiana because Indiana Gov. Mike Pence – who is a true conservative with executive experience – would be an attractive candidate for the GOP to run in the next presidential election.

The most vocal critics of Indiana’s RFRA also happen to be the owners of some of the nation’s largest glass houses.

Connecticut’s Gov. Dan Malloy made his play for the “2015’s Pandering Top 10!” by signing an executive order issuing a ban on state-funded travel to states that have a “discriminatory” RFRA law in place. He not only spoke out about his executive order, but he sent two widely read tweets that came just short of calling Indiana the land of bigots.

Interestingly his own state has had a RFRA on the books for nearly two decades. Should the governor ban state employees from traveling in their home state?

Angie’s List – which is headquartered in Indianapolis – has put a major expansion of their offices on hold. The expansion is projected to be a $40 million investment into an eastside neighborhood that desperately needs revitalization. It would also open up the possibility of adding one thousand jobs to the economy. Angie’s List CEO Bill Oesterle has stated the only reason they are pulling out of this deal is due to the passage of Indiana’s RFRA. This type of reaction is short-sighted and is an unnecessary response to a misinterpretation of the act. If Mr. Oesterle does decide to move operations elsewhere, the question is where? All of Indiana’s neighboring states have RFRA in place except for Ohio.

While opponents of RFRA may say it as a license to discriminate, where are their voices as thousands are being slaughtered across the globe because they are homosexual?

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook wrote an Op-Ed in The Washington Post decrying the passage of such laws throughout the United States. In fact, he opened his Op-Ed with: “There’s something very dangerous happening in states across the country.” How insulting. A law that looks to preserve First Amendment protections for those seeking religious freedom is somehow dangerous?

Mr. Cook, who is openly gay, chooses to do business in several countries in the Middle East and Africa that would likely sentence him to death should he set foot on their soil. If corporate profits trump true social justice, then Mr. Cook’s words mean very little.

The reaction to the RFRA that passed in Indiana is a national embarrassment. It is embarrassing that in this time of immediate access to information via electronic media, millions are as easily swayed as the uneducated populace of a third-world dictatorship. The “masses” willingly buy into the false narrative that RFRA laws allow for “legal discrimination” by those leaders who seek to use their combined voices to seize power at the expense of the citizens of the United States and the U.S. Constitution.

 

joe_charlebois@yahoo.com

 



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