Indiana’s religious freedom law plunged the nation into chaos this week. It was a tirade on behalf of liberals who erroneously said this law would be a blank check for businesses to discriminate against gay and lesbian customers. First, that’s not true; there’s a strict scrutiny test regarding validating one’s religious beliefs. And, for the most part, government has been very good at determining genuine religious beliefs from frivolous ones. Indiana’s law is based on the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton and introduce in the House by then-Congressman (now Senator) Chuck Schumer.
Yet, Apple’s Tim Cook said this law is similar to Jim Crow. The band Wilco responded by cancelling a concert in protest of the new law. Angie’s List declined a $40 million expansion of their headquarters in Indianapolis, which would have created 1,000 new jobs over the next five years. Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said that anyone who defends this law is not qualified to be president.
Well, Wilco’s future tours will have to bypass the 40 percent of U.S. states that have their own version of RFRA. RFRA isn’t like Jim Crow by any stretch of the imagination, Mr. Cook. What this past week has shown is how easily it is for debate in this country to head right off the tracks, into the ditch, and explode in a furious inferno.
Again, here’s the 1993 federal law and Indiana’s law.
(a) IN GENERAL- Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in subsection (b).
(b) EXCEPTION- Government may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it 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.
Sec. 7. As used in this chapter, "person" includes the following: (1) An individual. (2) An organization, a religious society, a church, a body of communicants, or a group organized and operated primarily for religious purposes. (3) A partnership, a limited liability company, a corporation, a company, a firm, a society, a joint-stock company, an unincorporated association, or another entity that: (A) may sue and be sued; and (B) exercises practices that are compelled or limited by a system of religious belief held by: (i) an individual; or (ii) the individuals; who have control and substantial ownership of the entity, regardless of whether the entity is organized and operated for profit or nonprofit purposes.
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.
Oh, by the way, Apple has opened up a store in Saudi Arabia, which is known for their top-notch civil protections for gays and lesbians–said by no one (you're actually put to death.)
Some in the Republican Party have also voiced their opposition to Indiana’s non-controversial law that protects one’s First Amendment rights. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) said, “We should not enshrine bigotry under the cover of religion. It’s not just bad practice — it’s un-American.” Keep in mind that Sen. Kirk is a Republican in a deep-blue state and is running for re-election in a presidential year. Even the Terminator–Arnold Schwarzenegger–weighed in in an op-ed in the Washington Post.
“Divisive laws like the one Indiana passed aren’t just bad for the country, they’re also bad for our party,” he wrote. “If the Republican Party wants the next generation of voters to listen to our ideas and solutions to real problems, we must be an inclusive and open party, not a party of divisions. We must be the party of limited government, not the party that legislates love. We must be the party that stands for equality and against discrimination in any form.”
Does the governor know this isn’t a marriage bill, nor is it discriminatory? And defending the Bill of Rights is the part of fighting for limited government principles. Also, RFRA has never been successfully used for businesses, especially marriage-related ones, that have argued religious exemptions in refusing service to gay and lesbian customers.
Only 21 states have public accommodation laws, which prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation by government entities and private enterprises that provide a public service. For any additional questions, please read this excellent post from Ace of Spades’ Gabriel Malor.
Because RFRA isn’t discriminatory, along with the fact that there’s no widespread discrimination against gay Americans in states with no public accommodation statues–the left’s argument makes no sense. This post-apocalyptic scenario would have happened long ago–and it hasn't.
Nevertheless, some of of fellow citizens on the left continue to go indiscriminately insane. Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Indiana soon found themselves under nuclear attack. The O’Connor family, which owns the shop, became the target of death threats. They’ve subsequently been forced underground. It all started when ABC 57 reporter Alyssa Marino asked Crystal O’Connor if she would cater a gay wedding. O'Connor said no, but added that her establishment would certainly serve gay customers; a point that isn’t mentioned until the final sentence of Marino’s article:
“If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no,” says Crystal O'Connor of Memories Pizza.
She and her family are standing firm in their beliefs.
The O'Connors have owned Memories Pizza in Walkerton for 9 years.
It's a small-town business, with small-town ideals.
“We are a Christian establishment,” says O'Connor.
The O'Connor family prides themselves in owning a business that reflects their religious beliefs.
“We're not discriminating against anyone, that's just our belief and anyone has the right to believe in anything,” says O'Connor.
The O'Connor family told ABC 57 news that if a gay couple or a couple belonging to another religion came in to the restaurant to eat, they would never deny them service.
The O'Connors say they just don't agree with gay marriages and wouldn't cater them if asked to.
Some people have threatened arson against the pizzeria, or have issued death threats, which caused this family to tragically head for the bunker. I mean what else can you do when the conversation is boiled down to “if you don’t agree with me, I’ll burn your business down, or kill you.” We’ve certainly reached another low point. Thankfully, a GoFundMe page was established by Dana Loesch and her crew over at The Blaze for the O’Connor family, which has accumulated almost $1 million in donations. Last night, the page was closed, but not after ending its run with nearly $850,000 in donations.
Yet, that's not after another pernicious–and unhinged–hypothesis from the left emerged about the donation page emerged; the family did this on purpose so it's a scam (I want to jump out of a window now).
Loesch noted that a petition has been filed to remove the O’Connor GoFundMe page. Allahpundit facetiously noted that if this shoddy conspiracy theory is true, O’Connor is the “Gone Girl of religious liberty." But added that in reality, the leftys are just furious that O’Connor and her family haven’t been ruined.
Is this the End Of Discussion in America? Moreover, why are liberals so enthralled with making those with whom they disagree, like Memories Pizza, disappear? Even liberal Bill Maher is unnerved by this attitude on the left. If liberals think it’s reprehensible to deny gays a wedding cake, how do they feel about a baker being sued for not writing anti-gay slogans on one? What about Muslim bakers refusing service to gay couples? Steven Crowder examined this in Dearborn, Michigan, asking Muslim bakers to make a cake for his fake “gay wedding.” They all refused. Guy and Mary Katherine Ham will detail all of this in due time, but this recent foray into cultural chaos shows that we've lost the ability to have serious conversations.
Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana asked the legislature to pass an unnecessary clarification bill, which passed earlier this week. Wilco found it significant enough to reschedule their cancelled event in Indianapolis.
UPDATE: Alix Bryan, a CBS social media staffer from their Richmond station, reported the GoFundMe page for fraud "just in case."
I have reported the GoFundMe for Memories Pizza for fraud. Just in case. http://t.co/ET0kGL0OWL— Alix Bryan (@alixbryan) April 1, 2015
UPDATE: Bryan releases statement
Thank you for your support. pic.twitter.com/5Pmus9qa5S— Alix Bryan (@alixbryan) April 4, 2015
UPDATE: Dana Loesch isn't happy.