This bill purports to protect persons and businesses from government reprisal if their decisions to treat groups of people differently (in the provision of services and goods, for example) stem from what they claim to be religious beliefs – even if those beliefs are not part of the formally professed teaching of any established religious group.
It’s a hideous affront to the fundamentals of our Constitution.
Or, as Susan Russell calls it, it’s a “Weapon of Mass Discrimination“.
Proponents of the bill say it is not about discrimination.
Of course not. It’s about “religious freedom”. See?
So, if someone comes into your store or your bakery or whatever your business happens to be, and you figure out that they are . . . .oh, I don’t know, let’s say . . . you figure out that they’re gay.
AND . . . your religion teaches you that being gay is . . . oh, I don’t know, let’s say . . . an “objectively / inherently disordered” condition.
WELL . . . not to worry about having your religious beliefs compromised by having to serve this . . . abomination in the sight of the Lord. Your “religious freedoms” have been protected.
Or, say, a woman comes into your store or your bakery or whatever your business happens to be, and you can tell, just by looking at that expensive suit she’s wearing and that fancy-schmancy jewelry she’s sporting, and the conversations she’s having on that expensive cell phone that’s partially hidden under her perfectly colored and coiffed hair that she’s probably not . .. how shall we say? . . . your typical ‘homemaker”.AND . . your religion teaches you that a woman’s place is in the home. With her husband. And, with as many children as our Abundant God deigns to give her.WELL . .. not to worry about having your religious beliefs compromised by having to serve this . . . this . .. Woman! Your “religious freedoms” have been protected.
And, let’s not even talk about an interracial couple who walks into a restaurant and expects to be served.
No, let’s not even talk about that.
Especially if they are wearing garments made of two different materials, or have tattoos, or collect interest on money they have in the bank, or . . . . Well, just read Leviticus.
Or, not. Actually, you don’t even have to be following a formally professed belief of any established religion. If your name is Judy and you believe something about God then you are following Judy-ism. Or your name is Brian, you could be a Follower of the Life of Brian.
As the Episcopal Bishop of Indianapolis, the Rt. Rev’d Catherine M. Waynick, wrote to her diocese:
Consider the possibility that only Christians will be served in some places, only Jews in others, while no Muslims, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, or Druids can purchase merchandise in some stores, and only Latinos will be included here, only Blacks excluded there….you see the point. This legislation gives the appearance of tolerating and protecting overt bigotry in any form so long as it is dressed up as personal religious fervor.
Oh, but wait. That’s not the bad news.
The really bad news is that this is just part of the first of a wave of a something Ms. Mouthermouth Maybelle, a character from Hairspray, once called, “ . .. a whole lotta ugly comin’ at you from a neverending parade of stupid.”
The truth is that Indiana is the 20th state to pass a Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law.
Let me say that again so it will sink in: Twenty (20!!) states now have a Religious Freedom Restoration Act as a law on their books.
There are more on the way. Arkansas and Georgia are poised to be next.
As astounding as all of this is, there’s a really simple explanation for it all: Physics.
You might remember it from high school physics:
“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
Consider: Marriage Equality will soon be the law of the land. Thirty-seven states and counting.
You didn’t think it was going to be that easy, did you? I mean, that LGBT people would win our civil rights state by state by bloody state and then, it would all be rainbows, lollipops, roses and sunshine?
Consider: In 2012, this country elected its first Black President for a second term of office.
And yet, despite the Civil Rights Act of 1965, there has been a gradual erosion of voting rights which includes redistricting, gerrymandering, redlining and requiring documented evidence of personhood (which, for these same people, simply being an embryo can prove that).
Sometimes, the “equal and opposite reaction” isn’t always as easy to follow as a straight line.
I’m told by my friends who work in shelters for victims of domestic violence that there has been a sudden increase in women and children seeking assistance over the past six months.
There are lots of factors, of course, but it turns out that when some people – mostly men who are Caucasian / Western European – feel threatened by forces out of their control – like gay people being able to get married or women making more money than they do or transgender people obtaining civil rights – they come home and kick the dog. Or, their wives. And, kids.
On one level, it’s pretty pathetic.
On another level, it has ever been thus.
Man on top. Says so in the Bible. Try to change that and expect Newton’s Third Law to kick in.
So, the political physics of the situation looks like this: 37 states with marriage equality + 20 states with Religious Freedom Restoration Act = Newton’s Third Law.
Here’s the thing: This is such an affront to the very idea of ‘liberty’ – what generations of men and women in this country have fought and died for – that it is simply a matter of time before these laws are challenged and overturned.
That’s also part of Newton’s Third Law, sometimes stated as, “What goes around, comes around.”
These laws – which are an abomination in the very sight of Jesus – will be challenged and eventually repealed. Of that, I have no doubt. In the meantime, a lot of people will be hurt. And, angry. And, outraged. And, that would be exactly right.
As my blessed grandmother used to say, “Prejudice kills brain cells.”
It is important to be outraged. It is more important, as Mother Jones famously said, to “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.”
If you aren’t convinced to get out and vote in every single bloody election – and help others to get to the polls to cast their ballot – I don’t know what will persuade you.
Maybe remembering Newton’s Third Law will do it: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. ”
As Sinclair Lewis rightly predicted in Babbit: “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”