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Onward Religious Objections

On Thursday, Indiana governor Mike Pence signed the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” into law. This bill is also known as the “Religious Objections” act, because it allows business owners to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation, as long as they do it because of religious beliefs.

The bill was opposed by the (Republican) mayor of Indianapolis, by the chamber of commerce and other business groups, which is ironic, because this law is supposedly protecting the religious freedom of business people.

But what is really ironic is that “religious objections” laws turns illegal discrimination on its head. As a spokesman for the ACLU put it, “Somehow the person being discriminated against has become the business owner who is discriminating against someone.” In Indiana at least, it is now illegal to discriminate against me because I discriminate against other people.

Yeah, and “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and Ignorance is Strength”.

I’m also getting very annoyed at laws that claim to be about religious freedom, but are really about Christianity, as this video satirically points out:



  1. Just me wrote:

    That Jesus dude is rolling in his grave.

    Saturday, March 28, 2015 at 6:00 am | Permalink
  2. Michael wrote:

    Actually, this video ignores one reality: The gentleman here would have legal grounds to sue. Under a variety of laws, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, color, and national origin is banned and punishable by fines. There is no federal law that extends these protections on the basis of sexual orientation. It’s on a state-by-state basis, and IN has no such protection. That’s why the “but other states have RFRA laws” argument is a complete red herring. Most of them also have LGBTQ non-discrimination laws that offer protection. IN doesn’t. In fact, in IN, if you own a business, you can legally fire an employee at any moment just because you suspect them of having every engaged in homosexual behavior at any point in their life. No religious exemption required.

    Saturday, March 28, 2015 at 9:32 am | Permalink
  3. ralph wrote:

    Right you are, Michael, but satire, like art generally, is allowed a little poetic license.

    The whole thing would be hilarious if it weren’t so perverse. I guess this is the predictable outcome of the Hobby Lobby ruling. We’ve seen similar legal maneuverings in the abortion rights area also, where states (eg. Texas) enact bogus requirements or severe restrictions on Planned Parenthood facilities and other maternity clinics which force them to shutdown or roll back services, making the availability of abortion or even birth control virtually impossible. Roe v. Wade is under continual assault from the Right.

    What I can’t understand is why there haven’t been legal countermeasures that effectively repel these laws that (at least to the average non-lawyer like myself) appear to be blatantly unconstitutional. Go figure.

    Saturday, March 28, 2015 at 12:49 pm | Permalink
  4. Michael wrote:

    Regarding poetic license, there’s a danger there. Someone not particularly legally astute could watch this video, then find out from someone else that the law provides protection and it could never happen. They then walk away mistakenly thinking the law generally prevents discrimination. So too much poetic license can undermine the message.

    Regarding contraception and abortion rights, the problem is the courts have a lot of room for interpretation. Decisions like Roe v. Wade don’t actually guarantee legal rights to abortion and contraception. Rather, they declare that the states cannot outlaw them. However, any regulation impacting these rights is subject to strict scrutiny. As long as the states can show a “compelling government interest,” the law is “narrowly tailored” to achieve that goal, and the law is the “least restrictive means,” then the law stands. Most laws fall on either the second or third requirement.

    As for why these laws haven’t been repealed, it’s a question of scale. These laws are being passed by so many states that the courts can’t keep up. It is a specific and deliberate tactic to clog the system until one of the cases can manage to get up to a friendly SCOTUS that will overturn Roe v. Wade.

    Sunday, March 29, 2015 at 9:11 am | Permalink
  5. Hassan wrote:

    Can a bakery business deny serving cake to KKK party on religious (or moral) grounds? Can a sign business deny services by refusing to make banners for anti-abortion rally?

    Monday, March 30, 2015 at 10:19 am | Permalink
  6. Iron Knee wrote:

    Hassan, yes. But what do those have to do with denying services to gays? Nothing. False equivalence.

    Monday, March 30, 2015 at 10:22 am | Permalink
  7. Hassan wrote:

    Why false equivalence? In fact perfectly right equivalence. I will not participate in KKK event or gay marriage. No one is denying services to white or gays, yet business should have right to deny services to white trying to organize KKK event or gays trying to organize gay marriage. Simple consistency.

    Monday, March 30, 2015 at 10:50 am | Permalink
  8. ThatGuy wrote:

    You’re equating an organization (and a hate group, at that) with an individual person. That isn’t consistency. Businesses face penalties (as Michael has pointed out) for discriminating against individuals on the basis of race, religion, sex, etc. so leaving sexuality out of that equation is a little silly. A business doesn’t have to provide services for political activism it disagrees with.

    Tuesday, March 31, 2015 at 7:27 am | Permalink
  9. Hassan wrote:

    THATGUY, I am equating an event with another event. No one is refusing service to a gay or white, or black or any individual. I do not want to participate/help an event involving bankers, nor some straight guys have bachelor’s party with strippers, nor white guys getting together to plan out racist ideas, nor gay wedding. I should have right to refuse to be part of (by helping in anyway) things that are morally objectionable to me.

    Tuesday, March 31, 2015 at 8:10 am | Permalink
  10. ThatGuy wrote:

    History has shown that if you have the right to discriminate against someone, it will be done. This is why there are protections from discrimination on the basis of race, sex, and religion. You should no more have the right to discriminate against someone for being gay (i.e. providing goods/services for a straight wedding but refusing to provide goods/services to a gay wedding) than someone else should have to refuse service to a Muslim because they find the Koran morally objectionable. It’s sad that we have to legislate being decent to one another.

    Tuesday, March 31, 2015 at 9:03 am | Permalink
  11. Iron Knee wrote:

    And yet you pay taxes, which fund wars.

    Tuesday, March 31, 2015 at 9:04 am | Permalink
  12. hassan wrote:

    I don’t have problem someone not catering to islamic conference or event, I will go somewhere else. Business should not refuse me as an individual

    Tuesday, March 31, 2015 at 10:25 am | Permalink
  13. hassan wrote:

    Not sure how to avoid paying for wars, will love to avoid that

    Tuesday, March 31, 2015 at 10:26 am | Permalink
  14. ThatGuy wrote:

    I guess we’d need to parse what an event is, or how small an event can get before it’s treated the same as an individual. From what you’re saying I gather I’d be right (hypothetically) to deny service to a Muslim wedding (under some pretense of a moral claim), thus denying the individuals celebrating their love and commitment, but wrong to deny a singular individual goods/services based on their race/sexuality/religion? I’d still feel as though I were discriminating at the individual level, particularly if I were fine providing for a Christian, Jewish, Hindu, etc. wedding.

    Wednesday, April 1, 2015 at 1:17 pm | Permalink
  15. Hassan wrote:

    Event is an event, no matter even if it is with one person. In my religion I am supposed to help people in doing good and abstain completely from committing evil. So for example if I have a shop that sells DVD player. And if someone comes in, and I know for sure (very high chances), with that he is going to use it to watch pornography, I am not supposed to sell it to him. Although if I do not know, I am not even supposed to ask as it will make matter more difficult on me (as it will cause business loss).

    Similarly since I make software, whenever I am approached for a project, I try to see nature of it and how it will be used. So if work is exclusively for bank/insurance, I will not work on it. But if it happens to be a general software, that will be used by any company, including banks, then I will make it, as it is not my headache who the clients will be.

    Similarly if a baker who makes cake, should not care who walks in and buys his cake for whatever reason, be it banking party, gay wedding, charity. But if he baker knows that he has to cater to a wedding which is gay, he should have right to refuse it.

    The actual case of florist woman (Washington state I believe), she used to sell flowers to gay couple, knowing they are gay. But when they asked her to participate in their wedding my doing whatever they asked her to do, she refused citing religious reasons. And I think now she has lost business (by government force).

    Not long ago, all gays wanted to be left alone and not be forced to accept religious understandings of others. Now time has changed, that we people of faith are asking for us to be left alone, and not make us do something against our beliefs. Sad times, may God help us.

    Wednesday, April 1, 2015 at 9:18 pm | Permalink
  16. Mark wrote:

    What I find the most ironic about this all, apart from the linguistic gymnastics being used to justify discrimination, is that in the Bible, Jesus teaches tolerance and loving thy neighbor. He embraced sinners more than the righteous. He took in a prostitute, Mary Magdelene, and made her part of his inner circle. The current message of evangelical Christianity seems to be full of hate, fear and exclusion.

    Thursday, April 2, 2015 at 2:45 pm | Permalink