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Modern Sin: Holding On to Your Belief

nonconformist-bakers

Trying to put florists, bakers and others out of work for unapproved ideas about marriage

Charlotte AllenCharlotte Allen writes: On Tuesday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that asks whether the Constitution requires states to allow same-sex couples to marry. Four days before the hearing, in Oregon, an administrative-law judge proposed a $135,000 fine against Aaron and Melissa Klein, proprietors of the Sweet Cakes bakery in Gresham, for the “emotional distress” suffered by a lesbian couple for whom the Kleins, citing their Christian belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, had declined to bake a wedding cake in 2013.

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“Media sympathy for the Kleins’ claim that being forced to participate in a same-sex wedding would violate their consciences ranged from nonexistent to…nonexistent. A CNN headline dubbed the Kleins’ since-closed business the ‘anti-gay bakery’; the Huffington Post prefers ‘anti-gay baker.’”

Same-sex marriage wasn’t legal in Oregon when the Kleins made their decision. But the couple was found to have violated a 2008 Oregon law forbidding discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation.

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“The victors have dropped their conciliatory stance. Bubonic plague-level hysteria surged through the media, academia and mega-corporate America in March after Indiana passed a law—modeled on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993—that would enable religious believers to opt out of universally applicable laws under some circumstances.”

Media sympathy for the Kleins’ claim that being forced to participate in a same-sex wedding would violate their consciences ranged from nonexistent to . . . nonexistent. A CNN headline dubbed the Kleins’ since-closed business the “anti-gay bakery”; the Huffington Post prefers “anti-gay baker.”

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

[Also see Bake Me a Cake — Or Else by Mark Hemingway]

Supporters of the Kleins—who have five children and operated the bakery out of their home—quickly went on the crowdfunding website GoFundMe to try to raise money to help the family pay legal fees and the fine, which still requires approval by the state labor commissioner. The effort managed to raise more than $100,000 in a few hours. human-christ-bookBut then, on Saturday night, GoFundMe abruptly shut down the online appeal because the Kleins’ case involved “formal charges.”

[Check out Charlotte Allen’s book “The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus at Amazon.com]

The Kleins join a small number of bakers, florists and photographers around the country, most of whom say they serve and even employ gays in their over-the-counter operations but who also insist that their Christian beliefs in man-woman marriage preclude their providing services to same-sex weddings. Those numbers will probably dwindle further: Many states are treating those acts of conscience as ordinary bigotry and, by levying or threatening fines, forcing those small business owners into costly and potentially ruinous litigation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Salon Champions Violent Hatred: Memories Pizza ‘Getting Exactly What It Deserved’

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Liberal clickbait factory Salon.com wants to let you know that Memories Pizza, the pizzeria supportive of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Act that was forced to close after constant abuse and death threats, got “exactly what it deserved.”

[Also see – Owners Of Indiana Pizzeria Opposed To Gay Marriage Receive Death Threats]

In a now-deleted tweet, Salon’s Twitter account gloated over the closure of “anti-LGBT” pizza shop:

Pizza

The link in the body of the tweet goes to a very brief Salon article which reports on Memories Pizza’s closure, but omits any mention of the death threats:

The owners of a small-town pizza shop who showed support for Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act have announced that they will be closing indefinitely, after facing mounting protests outside the physical establishment and online. Memories Pizza owner Kevin O’Connor told Fox News on Wednesday that due to an inability to differentiate between real and fake orders, he and his family would be taking a break. Read the rest of this entry »


Former CEO Carly Fiorina is Disgusted with How CEOs Condemned Indiana’s #RFRA Law

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Former CEO Carly Fiorina is disgusted with how CEOs condemned Indiana’s religious freedom law.

 


With Extra Cheese: Indiana Pizzeria Owners Go Underground as Donations Near $1 Million

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The owners of a pizza shop at the center of the debate over Indiana’s religious freedom law have gone into hiding.

The Associated Press reported Crystal O’Connor and her family have taken refuge in an undisclosed location after saying earlier this week that Memories Pizza would not cater gay weddings.
Gofundme account launched for the Walkerton, Ind., restaurant has brought in more than $750,000. The flood of support comes as the O’Connors vow to reopen Memories despite backlash over their business practices.
At issue is Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Gov. Mike Pence (R) on Thursday signed a fix he feels corrects the perception that it lets businesses discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The law’s latest version now prohibits business discrimination against protected groups like the gay community. It also forbids using the law as a legal defense in situations where such discrimination may have occurred. Read the rest of this entry »


Muslim Facial Hair, Amish Buggies, and Native American Peyote Rituals: This Map Shows Every State With Religious Freedom Laws

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Dave Johnson and Katy Steinmetz report:The national outcry over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) has turned attention towards the 19 states with their own versions of the law and the others that are considering similar measures. The timeline below shows when each state passed legislation, starting with Connecticut in 1993. Click on a state for links to the laws or pending bills.

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The fight over RFRAs dates to 1990, when the Supreme Court ruled against an Oregonian named Al Smith, who was a quarter American Indian. He had argued that his use of peyote in a Native American Church ritual—an act that cost him his job—should be protected by the First Amendment. He lost, and the ruling made it easier for the government to place restrictions on the freedom of religion. Read the rest of this entry »


Kevin D. Williamson: The War on the Private Mind

Dr. Bill van Bise, electrical engineer, conducting a demonstration of Soviet scientific data and schematics for beaming a magnetic field into the brain to cause visual hallucinations. Source: CNN Source: Supplied

Dr. Bill van Bise, electrical engineer, conducting a demonstration of Soviet scientific data and schematics for beaming a magnetic field into the brain to cause visual hallucinations. Source: CNN

In Indiana, in Arkansas, and in the boardroom

Kevin D. Williamsonkevin-williamson writes: There are two easy ways to get a Republican to roll over and put his paws up in the air: The first is to write him a check, which is the political version of scratching his belly, and the second is to call him a bigot. In both cases, it helps if you have a great deal of money behind you.

Tim Cook, who in his role as chief executive of the world’s most valuable company personifies precisely the sort of oppression to which gay people in America are subjected, led the hunting party when Indiana’s governor Mike Pence signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, while Walmart, a company that cannot present its hindquarters enthusiastically enough to the progressives who hate it and everything for which it stands, dispatched its CEO, C. Douglas McMillon, to head off a similar effort in Arkansas, where Governor Asa Hutchison rolled over immediately….(read more)

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“Adlai Stevenson famously offered this definition: ‘A free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.’ We do not live in that society.”

…There are three problems with rewarding those who use accusations of bigotry as a political cudgel. First, those who seek to protect religious liberties are not bigots, and going along with false accusations that they are makes one a party to a lie.

[Read the full text here, at National Review]

Second, it is an excellent way to lose political contests, since there is almost nothing — up to and including requiring algebra classes — that the Left will not denounce as bigotry. Third, and related, it rewards and encourages those who cynically deploy end-is-nearaccusations of bigotry for their own political ends.

[Kevin D. Williamson’s book  “The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome”  is available at Amazon]

An excellent illustration of this dynamic is on display in the recent pronouncements of columnist and gay-rights activist Dan Savage, who, in what seems to be an effort to resurrect every lame stereotype about the shrill, hysterical, theatrical gay man, declaimed that the efforts of those who do not wish to see butchers and bakers and wedding-bouquet makers forced by their government at gunpoint to violate their religious scruples is — you probably have guessed already — nothing less than the consecration of Jim Crow Junior. “Anti-black bigots, racist bigots, during Jim Crow and segregation made the exact same arguments that you’re hearing people make now,” Savage said. Given the dramatic difference in the social and political position of blacks in the time of Bull Connor and gays in the time of Ellen DeGeneres, this is strictly Hitler-was-a-vegetarian stuff, the elevation of trivial formal similarities over dramatic substantial differences. The choices for explaining this are a.) moral illiteracy; b.) intellectual dishonesty; c.) both a and b…(read more)

National Review


David Weigel: Wrong Side of History? ‘Democrats Are Endorsing Something More Radical Than Voters Are Comfortable With’

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David Weigel writes:

..it’s now expected for Democrats to denounce RFRAs, just as large corporations are denouncing them. In doing so, all of the critics are on the wrong side of public polling. According to a March edition of the Marist poll, 54 percent of Americans agreed with  “allowing First Amendment religious liberty protection or exemptions for faith based organizations and individuals even when it conflicts with government laws.” By a two-point margin, 47-45, even a plurality of Democratic voters agreed with that.

The margins were even larger in opposition to laws that proposed “penalties or fines for individuals who refuse to provide wedding-related services to same sex couples even if their refusal is based on their religious beliefs.” No Democrat is seriously proposing this; the nearest cultural analogue may be the story of Memories Pizza, the Indiana shop whose owner said that he would decline to provide pies to gay weddings, and saw its Yelp! page firebombed with angry comments. (The popularity of delivery pizza at gay wedding ceremonials is well known.) Still, according to Marist, Americans oppose penalties on businesses like Memories by a 65-31 margin. The margin among Democrats: 62-34 against. Read the rest of this entry »


A Bunch of Crazy-Pants Cuckoo Bananas Bigots Speak Out for Religious Liberty

From MKHamm,  Hot Air:

Wow, just check out the hate!

Chuck Schumer:

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[VIDEO]

“The parade of horribles has already begun. The American people today know that religious freedom is not a luxury. I believe this legislation is essential.”

Steny Hoyer:

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[VIDEO]

“It’s no accident the Founders decided to put the free practice of religion first… and this Congress should do the same…It was the genius of our framers…that we were not to leave minority religious practices to the…majority…If there is a shared American value, it is a commitment to religious liberty.

Jerrold Nadler:

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[VIDEO]

“It’s no accident the Founders decided to put the free practice of religion first… and this Congress should do the same…It was the genius of our framers…that we were not to leave minority religious practices to the…majority…If there is a shared American value, it is a commitment to religious liberty.”

President Bill Clinton:

(read more)

Hot Air


How RFRA Works, Explained In One Chart

RFRA-Infographic

The above infographic from the 1st Amendment Partnership very clearly spells out what RFRA does, how it’s used by courts, and what happens at the end of a case where RFRA is invoked.

Despite the deliberate misinformation being spread by Leftist activists and their friends in the media, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, is not a complicated law. It is not difficult to understand. It is not a blanket license to discriminate.

[Read the full text here, at The Federalist]

The RFRA statutes, which currently bind nearly two dozen state governmentsas well as the federal government, require courts to use a simple balancing test when weighing the facts of specific religious freedom cases. The laws state that the government may only substantially burden the free exercise of religion of a person or organization if the government 1) has a compelling interest to do so, and 2) is using the least restrictive means possible to further that compelling interest…(read more)

The Federalist 


Arsonists For Tolerance: Indiana Coach Suspended After Threatening to Burn Down Christian-Owned Pizzeria

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Hysterical Media Whipping Up the Next Ferguson? 

The head coach of an Indiana high school girl’s golf team has been suspended after apparently threatening to burn down a Christian-owned pizzeria.

Jess Dooley, a coach at Concord High School of Elkhart, Indiana allegedly struck out at the owner of Memories Pizza in Walkerton, IN who made news on Tuesday by saying that she would not cater a wedding if a gay couple tried to hire her for the job, after the state passed its own Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

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“We are a Christian establishment,” pizza shop owner told the media.

On the heels of the news from the pizza shop, coach Dooley allegedly took to Twitter to say, “Who’s going to Walkerton, IN to burn down #memoriespizza w me? Agree with #FreedomofReligion bill? “That’s a lifestyle they CHOOSE” Ignorant.” Read the rest of this entry »


My So-Called Religious Freedom

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National Review‘s Katherine Connell notes major media’s new House Style:

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[read the full text here, at National Review]


[VIDEO] ‘There is nothing more tiresome in modern American life than the indignation sweepstakes we get in all the time to see who can be most angry’

From The Corner,

Responding to the outrage surrounding the Hoosier State’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Will noted on Tuesday’s Special Report…

“Tim Cook, CEO of Apple thinks Indiana is a horrible place. He opened marketing and retailing operations in Saudi Arabia two months before a man was sentenced to 450 lashes for being gay. The selective indignation is itself wonderful.”

Apple-Approved

“There are obviously two important principles at stake here,” Will continued…

“One is, the government should rarely, and only with extreme difficulty, compel people to take actions contrary to their consciences. The other is that when you open your doors to commerce you open them to everybody. That’s a simple thing…You can work this out, but the indignation isn’t helping.”

(read more)

National Review


Tim Cook Needs to Do Some Homework

620x349“Apple’s Gay CEO Tim Cook Wants to Boycott Indiana for Its Allegedly Anti-Gay RFRA, But Will Gladly Sell You an iPhone At Its Boutique in Riyadh, Where They’ll Stone You to Death For Being Gay.”

AceofSpadesHQ

Ponnuru

 writes: Tim Cook, the chief executive officer of Apple, is spreading misinformation about a new religious-freedom law in Indiana. That law and similar ones, he writes in the Washington Post, “say individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law.” He goes on to claim that they “rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality.”

“What these religious-freedom laws say is that government can require people to violate their religious beliefs only when it is pursuing a compelling interest, and must do so in the least intrusive manner possible. Thus the Supreme Court recently ruled under a federal religious-freedom law that a Muslim prisoner doesn’t have to shave his beard.”

Discrimination against gay customers or employees is what opponents of the law are especially concerned about. But that’s a strange argument to make in the context of Indiana, which lacks any state nondiscrimination law on sexual orientation for people to resist. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is legal almost everywhere in the state, and was before this religious-freedom law passed.

“Cook may not be aware of this point or others that cut against his argument because reporting on this controversy has been abysmal. Cook may also be unaware that the ‘wave of legislation’ that he fears has largely already happened. A very similar religious-freedom law has been on the federal books for 22 years…”

[Read the full text here, at bloombergview.com]

Cook may not be aware of this point or others that cut against his argument because reporting on this controversy has been abysmal. Cook may also be unaware that the “wave of legislation” that he fears has largely already happened. A very similar religious-freedom law has been on the federal books for 22 years, and that law itself codified a Supreme Court doctrine that had been in place for most of the previous few decades. Nineteen states besides Indiana have similar laws. Read the rest of this entry »


Random, Unrelated Misfortune: Indiana Gov Website Targeted By Malicous Cyber Attacks

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(CBS) — The controversy over Indiana’s so-called religious freedom law was not the only problem the Hoosier state faced Tuesday. It also fended off an apparent attack on its official website.

It was the second time since Friday that the IN.gov website was overwhelmed by simultaneous requests for service.

Graig Lubsen of the Indiana Office of Technology said the threat was known well before the controversy over the new law surfaced.

He was quick to say that the site was not hacked. Instead, it was inundated by millions of simultaneous requests for service, which slowed access to the site for some and timed out others. Read the rest of this entry »


The New Intolerance

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Indiana isn’t targeting gays. Liberals are targeting religion

In the increasingly bitter battle between religious liberty and the liberal political agenda, religion is losing. Witness the media and political wrath raining down upon Indiana because the state dared to pass an allegedly anti-gay Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The question fair-minded Americans should ask before casting the first stone is who is really being intolerant.

The Indiana law is a version of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that passed 97-3 in the Senate and that Anti-Christian_sign_in_Federal_Plaza_ChicagoBill Clinton signed in 1993. Both the federal and Indiana laws require courts to administer a balancing test when reviewing cases that implicate the free exercise of religion.

“The paradox is that even as America has become more tolerant of gays, many activists and liberals have become ever-more intolerant of anyone who might hold more traditional cultural or religious views.”

To wit: Individuals must show that their religious liberty has been “substantially burdened,” and the government must demonstrate its actions represent the least restrictive means to achieve a “compelling” state interest. Indiana’s law adds a provision that offers a potential religious defense in private disputes, but then four federal appellate circuits have also interpreted the federal statute to apply to private disputes.

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“Part of the new liberal intolerance is rooted in the identity politics that dominates today’s Democratic Party. That’s the only way to explain the born-again opportunism of Hillary Clinton, who tweeted: ‘Sad this new Indiana law can happen in America today. We shouldn’t discriminate against ppl bc of who they love.'”

The federal RFRA followed the Supreme Court’s Employment Division v. Smith ruling in 1990 that abandoned its 30-year precedent of reviewing religious liberty cases under strict scrutiny. Congress Tall-censorship-campusresponded with RFRA, which merely reasserted longstanding First Amendment protections.

“By that standard, Mrs. Clinton discriminated against gays because she opposed gay marriage until March 2013. But now she wants to be seen as leading the new culture war against the intolerant right whose views she recently held.”

In 1997 the Supreme Court limited RFRA’s scope to federal actions. So 19 states including such cultural backwaters as Connecticut, Rhode Island and Illinois followed with copy-cat legislation, and Indiana is the 20th. Courts in 11 states have extended equally vigorous protections.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

Indiana was an outlier before the new law because neither its laws nor courts unambiguously protected religious liberty. Amish horse-drawn buggies could be required to abide by local traffic regulations. Read the rest of this entry »


Noah Rothman: Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy Embarrasses Himself with Indiana RFRA Tantrum

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Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy revealed that he will prohibit all state-sponsored travel to this heretical member of the Union. He joins the mayor of Seattle, who also blocked city-funded travel to Indiana in protest over this perfectly banal law.

Noah Rothman writes: The frenzied outpouring of disproportionate outrage from the left over Indiana’s state-level version of the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act can be best described as a tantrum.

[Read the full text here, at Hot Air]

A number of firms including Apple and Angie’s List Inc. have announced that they will respond to the legislation that critics insist is designed to discriminate against gays and lesbians by reviewing their commitments to do business in the state. A cornucopia of liberal groups are organizing a boycott of all things Hoosier. And, on Monday, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy revealed that he will prohibit all state-sponsored travel to this heretical member of the Union. He joins the mayor of Seattle, who also blocked city-funded travel to Indiana in protest over this perfectly banal law.

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“This law, like other RFRAs, merely requires that state laws meet a demanding, but hardly insurmountable, test before infringing upon the religious practice or conscience of religious believers.”

— The Washington Post’s Volokh Conspiracy blogger Jonathan Adler

This reaction is nothing short of an embarrassment for the left and a repudiation of the values that the Democratic Party espoused as recently as the 1990s, when President Bill Clinton signed a national version of this act into law.

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“RFRA is a shield, not a sword. It can be used to defend oneself against lawsuits or administrative action. It can’t be used affirmatively to try and deprive others of the protections of law.”

— Attorney Gabriel Malor, The Federalist

The hypocrisy exhibited by the left in this display of childish pique over Indiana’s RFRA bill is impossible to ignore.

“[W]hile Indiana is being criticized, the NCAA didn’t say it was concerned over how athletes and employees would be affected by Kentucky’s RFRA when games were played there last week, there aren’t any plans to tall-surprise-faceboycott states like Illinois or Connecticut, and Miley Cyrus has yet to post a photo of President Clinton or any of the 19 other governors who have also signed RFRAs,” The Washington Post’s Hunter Schwarz wrote. “Indiana might be treated as if it’s the only state with a bill like this, but it’s not.”

“Malloy’s absurd response to the Indiana law is, no doubt, an effort to distract his liberal constituents from the fact that Connecticut’s RFRA law – yes, they have one, too – goes farther than the act signed last week by Governor Mike Pence.”

“This law, like other RFRAs, merely requires that state laws meet a demanding, but hardly insurmountable, test before infringing upon the religious practice or conscience of religious believers,” observed The Washington Post’s Volokh Conspiracy blogger Jonathan Adler. “If the law imposes a substantial burden on religious belief, the law must yield unless the law serves a compelling state interest and is the least burdensome way to advance that interest.”

Malloy’s absurd response to the Indiana law is, no doubt, an effort to distract his liberal constituents from the fact that Connecticut’s RFRA law – yes, they have one, too – goes farther than the act signed last week by Gov. Mike Pence.

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The Federalist’s Sean Davis makes the case:

Connecticut’s law, however, is far more restrictive of government action and far more protective of religious freedoms. How? Because the Connecticut RFRA law states that government shall not “burden a person’s exercise of religion[.]” Note that the word “substantially” is not included in Connecticut’s law.

The effect of the absence of that single word is enormous…(read more)

That seems straightforward enough. Still have questions? Over at The Federalist, attorney Gabriel Malor answers all of your pressing inquiries. The most substantive assertion that he makes, however, is that all RFRA’s do not and cannot license discrimination. Read the rest of this entry »


Indiana Governor Mike Pence Informs Clueless Agenda-Driven Media that He Signed Same Bill Barack Obama Voted for in Illinois

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White House doesn’t dispute it

John McCormack reports: In an appearance on ABC’s This Week, Indiana governor Mike Pence defended his state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act by noting that Barack Obama had voted for the same law as an Illinois state senator.Pence_Mike

“Josh, you just heard the governor say right there this is the same law, he says, that Barack Obama voted for as a state senator back in Illinois.”

— This Week Host George Stephanoplous to White House press secretary Josh Earnest

“The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed into federal law by President Bill Clinton more than 20 years ago, and it lays out a framework for ensuring that a very high level of scrutiny is given any time government action impinges on the religious liberty of any American.” Pence said. “After last year’s Hobby Lobby case, Indiana properly brought the same version that then-state senator Barack Obama voted for in Illinois before our legislature.”

[For more on the controversy surrounding Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, see this article]

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This Week Host George Stephanoplous later asked White House press secretary Josh Earnest to respond to Pence’s claim: “Josh, you just heard the governor say right there this is the same law, he says, that Barack Obama voted for as a state senator back in Illinois.”

Earnest didn’t dispute the Indiana governor’s statement….(read more)

weeklystandard.com


Religious Freedom Laws: True & False

Sarah TorreTorre_Sarah_TDS_lo1 writes: The mainstream media has launched an all-out blitz over a new law that protects the fundamental freedom of Indiana citizens from unnecessary and unreasonable government coercion.

The media’s gross mischaracterizations of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act ignore the truth: Religious Freedom Restoration Acts prevent government discrimination against religious free exercise and simply provide a way to balance religious liberty with compelling government interests.

Religious liberty isn’t an absolute right. Religious liberty doesn’t always trump. Religious liberty is balanced with concerns for a compelling state interest that’s being pursued in the least-restrictive means possible.

The First Amendment Partnership, an organization whose mission is “to promote and protect religious freedom for people of all faiths,” created the below infographic separating myth from fact on Religious Freedom Restoration Acts:

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….By passing its Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Indiana joins the 19 other states that have implemented such laws. Eleven additional states have religious liberty protections that state courts have interpreted to provide a similar level of protection….(read more)

The Daily Signal


REWIND: The Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act Passed the House Unanimously and the Senate 97-3

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Remember When Democrats Used To Support Religious Freedom? Remarks on Signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993

By , November 16, 1993:

Thank you very much, Mr. Vice President, for those fine remarks and to the Members of Congress, the chaplains of the House and the Senate, and to all of you who worked so hard to help this day become a reality. Let me especially thank the Coalition for the Free Exercise of Religion for the central role they played in drafting this legislation and working so hard for its passage.

“What this law basically says is that the Government should be held to a very high level of proof before it interferes with someone’s free exercise of religion.”

It is interesting to note, as the Vice President said, what a broad coalition of Americans came together to make this bill a reality; interesting to note that that coalition produced a 97-to3 vote in the United States Senate and a bill that had such broad support it was adopted on a voice vote in the House. I’m told that, as many of the people in the coalition worked together across ideological and religious lines, some new friendships were formed and some new trust was established, which shows, I suppose, that the power of God is such that even in the legislative process miracles can happen. [Laughter]

We all have a shared desire here to protect perhaps the most precious of all American liberties, religious freedom. Usually the signing of legislation by a President is a ministerial act, often a quiet ending to a turbulent legislative process. Today this event assumes a more majestic quality because of our ability together to affirm the historic role that people of faith have played in the history of this country and the constitutional protections those who profess and express their faith have always demanded and cherished.

“I submit to you today, my fellow Americans, that we can stand that kind of debate in this country. We are living in a country where the most central institution of our society, the family, has been under assault for 30 years.”

The power to reverse legislation by legislation, a decision of the United States Supreme Court, is a power that is rightly hesitantly and infrequently exercised by the United States Congress. But this is an issue in which that extraordinary measure was clearly called for.

As the Vice President said, this act reverses the Supreme Court’s decision Employment Division against Smith and reestablishes a standard that better protects all Americans of all faiths in the exercise of their religion in a way that I am convinced is far more consistent with the intent of the Founders of this Nation than the Supreme Court decision.

“More than 50 cases have been decided against individuals making religious claims against Government action since that decision was handed down. This act will help to reverse that trend by honoring the principle that our laws and institutions should not impede or hinder but rather should protect and preserve fundamental religious liberties.”

The free exercise of religion has been called the first freedom, that which originally sparked the development of the full range of the Bill of Rights. Our Founders cared a lot about religion. And one of the reasons they worked so hard to get the first amendment into the Bill of Rights at the head of the class is that they well understood what could happen to this country, how both religion and Government could be perverted if there were not some space created and some protection provided. They knew that religion helps to give our people the character without which a democracy cannot survive. They knew that there needed to be a space of freedom between Government and people of faith that otherwise Government might usurp.

“We are a people of faith. We have been so secure in that faith that we have enshrined in our Constitution protection for people who profess no faith. And good for us for doing so. That is what the first amendment is all about.”

They have seen now, all of us, that religion and religious institutions have brought forth faith and discipline, community and responsibility over two centuries for ourselves and enabled us to live together in ways that I believe would not have been possible. We are, after all, the oldest democracy now in history and probably the most truly multiethnic society on the face of the Earth. And I am convinced that neither one of those things would be true today had it not been for the importance of the first amendment and the fact that we have kept faith with it for 200 years. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Weakness & Dependence’ Quote of the Day

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Follow John Hawkins on Twitter


Government Thugs Reined by Supreme Court

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For The Washington Post, George Will writes: Two 5 to 4 decisions this week, on the final decision day of the Supreme Court’s term, dealt with issues that illustrate the legal consequences of political tactics by today’s progressives. One case demonstrated how progressivism’s achievement, the regulatory state, manufactures social strife and can do so in ways politically useful to progressives. The other case arose from government coercion used to conscript unwilling citizens into funding the progressives’ party.

“Twice this week the court played its indispensable role as constable, policing portions of this forest where progressivism has produced government guilty of gratuitous bullying.”

Under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), any government action that substantially burdens religious practices will be subject to strict judicial scrutiny to determine if it, rather than some less intrusive measure, is necessary to achieve a compelling government interest. The Affordable Care Act, as supplemented by regulations, requires for-profit employers to provide health-care coverage that includes all 20 Food and Drug Administration-approved birth control methods.

“…more and more decisions are made by unelected and unaccountable executive-branch ‘experts’  exercising vast discretion.”

These include four that prevent a fertilized egg from being implanted in the uterus. Some persons consider this tantamount to abortion and oppose these abortifacients for religious reasons. Why did Congress, having enacted RFRA, write this clearly incompatible birth control mandate? Congress didn’t. Read the rest of this entry »


Charles C. Cooke: What Does the Left Think the Supreme Court Is?

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Hobby Lobby exposes mass incomprehension of the role of courts in a constitutional republic. 

A question for readers: Do public schools teach civics? They did when I was in school, but it’s been a long time. Has basic civics been fully removed from public education? Or still taught, but overridden by progressive counter-programming? I’d like to hear.

I read this last night, and marveled. NRO‘s Charles C. Cooke writes like the last sane man in America. I enjoy Cooke’s thinking, but I sometimes forget how funny his writing is. The left’s reaction to the SCTOTUS decision was expected to be exaggerated, dishonest, political, and theatrical, that’s a given. But I didn’t imagine it would become this disassociated from the actual legal question involved, seemingly clueless about (or intentionally misrepresenting) the role of courts in the democratic process itself. Read the whole thing here.

“The justices are jurists not doctors — they are nine appointed attorneys whose role in the American settlement is to provide legal answers to legal questions.”

Charles C. W. Cooke writes: 

Conspicuously absent from yesterday’s post-Hobby Lobby hullabaloo was the acknowledgment on the left that the decision was the product of a court. Distilling into a single line what was a popular and widely disseminated critique, the New York Times’s Nick Kristof tweeted a picture of Justices Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito, sardonically labeling the quintet as “The experts on women’s health on the Supreme Court who ruled today against contraception coverage.” A few hours later, Senator Harry Reid’s office pushed out an assessment that was cut from the same unlovely cloth. “It’s time that five men on the Supreme Court stop deciding what happens to women,” Reid tweeted. Among the hysterical, that sentiment was ubiquitous.

Note: Many on the right, too, are misreading or misrepresenting the perceived ‘victory’ in this narrow decision. Obamacare’s vast regulatory reach remains undiminished by this ruling, there’s not a whole lot to celebrate.

One cannot help but wonder whether Kristof and Reid are aware of what the Supreme Court actually does — which, as anybody who has even a fleeting grasp of American civics knows, is not to set American policy, on health or anything else, but to interpret and uphold the law. In this particular case, the justices were called to judge whether a mandate that was pushed out by the Obama administration in 2012 was in conflict with another law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, that was added to the books in 1992. This being so, the degree to which those who decided the case are “experts on women’s health” is wholly immaterial. The justices are jurists not doctors — they are nine appointed attorneys whose role in the American settlement is to provide legal answers to legal questions. Man or woman; straight or gay; handsome or ugly; Jew, Catholic, or protestant — the law must remain the law, regardless of in whose name its intricacies are decided. The alternative would be disastrous. Does Harry Reid aspire to see Roe v. Wade, which was decided by nine men, overturned?

“Senator Patty Murray issued a wild and overwrought statement…At no point did she even come close to mentioning the legal case.”

Identity politics notwithstanding, the central implication of the Kristofs and Reids of the world — that the very involvement of the Court in this area is uncouth — is a rather strange one. Read the rest of this entry »


David French on Hobby Lobby: ‘The Left Is Weeping Hot, Bitter Tears, and It Should’

Indulgent Pulp Fiction Propaganda disguised as prestigious literature: Left-Wing Paranoia Peddling Author Margaret Atwood in a Twist

Margaret Atwood with a Twist: Margaret Atwood is the author of “Handmaiden’s Tale”: Deliciously Fun Third-Rate Trashy Left-Wing Paranoid Pulp Fiction. Hailed by Critics as Prestigious, Important Literature.

“For some time, the Left has been selling the public and the courts on the notion that somehow the act of forming a corporation and opening for business operates as an effective waiver of your most basic liberties…”

For National Review OnlineDavid French nails it:

 [Read the whole thing here]

Andrew’s and Molly’s post reflecting the hysterical reaction on the Left to the Hobby Lobby decision makes for both entertaining and instructive reading. It’s entertaining because — regarding the issue they claim to care most about, access to contraceptives — the decision blocks exactly no one from obtaining the drugs they choose to purchase. There’s just slightly less free stuff on the market. This is hardly Handmaid’s Tale territory.

It’s instructive because it demonstrates the extent to which the Left is emotionally and ideologically committed to the power of the regulatory state. For some time, the Left has been selling the public and the courts on the notion that somehow the act of forming a corporation and opening for business operates as an effective waiver of your most basic liberties, including free speech, free exercise of religion, and virtually the entire panoply of property rights. In effect, your business is not “your” business at all, but instead all aspects of its operations exist at the whim of the state, and if the state wants to draft you into its child-killing abortion crusade — or wants to muzzle you during political campaigns – then you best salute and fall in line. Read the rest of this entry »


Kevin D. Williamson: The Brendan Eich Case Brings Out the Nature of Liberal Fascism

The Liberal Gulag

Kevin D. Williamson writes:  The word “liberal” has taken a beating over the last few days: A Mozilla executive was hounded out of his position at the firm he co-founded by left-wing campaigners resolved to punish him for having made a donation to a successful California ballot initiative that defined marriage in traditional terms; Adam eich-caseWeinstein, whose downwardly mobile credibility has taken him from ABC toGawker, called for literally imprisoning people with the wrong views about global warming, writing, “Those malcontents must be punished and stopped”; Mr. Weinstein himself was simply forwarding a dumbed-down-enough-for-Gawkerversion of the arguments of philosophy professor Lawrence Torcello; Katherine Timpf, a reporter for Campus Reform, faced a human barricade to keep her from asking questions of those attending a feminist leadership conference, whose organizers informed her that the group was “inclusive” and therefore she was “not welcome here”; Charles Murray, one of the most important social scientists of his generation, was denounced as a “known white supremacist” by Texas Democrats for holding heterodox views about education policy; national Democrats spent the week arguing for the anti-free-speech side of a landmark First Amendment case and the anti-religious-freedom side of a case involving the Religious Freedom Restoration Act; Lois Lerner, the Left’s best friend at the IRS, faces contempt charges related to her role in the Democrats’ coopting the IRS as a weapon against their political enemies; Harry Reid, a liberal champion of campaign-finance reform, was caught channeling tens of thousands of dollars to his granddaughter while conspicuously omitting her surname, which is also his surname, from official documents, cloaking the transaction, while one of his California colleagues, a liberal champion of gun control, was indicted on charges of running guns to an organized-crime syndicate.

[Order Jonah Goldberg’s book “Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning”  from Amazon]

The convocation of clowns on the left screeched with one semi-literate and inchoate voice when my colleague Jonah Goldberg, borrowing the precise words of one of their own, titled a book Liberal Fascism. Most of them didn’t read it, but the ones who did apparently took what was intended as criticism and read it as a blueprint for political action.

Welcome to the Liberal Gulag.

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How Left and Right Flipped on Religious Freedom

birth controlW. James Antle III writes:  Was contraception illegal in 2010? Were people unable to purchase birth-control pills without the consent of their employers?

The answer to these questions is no, despite the repeated insistences that the Supreme Court would bring about this state of affairs by ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby and against the Obamacare contraception mandate.

In fact, Hobby Lobby’s owners only object to being required to cover four of the twenty mandated contraceptives. They argue that they do not wish to be complicit in providing abortion-inducing drugs. But the same people who want to “ban bossy” now speak as if accommodating a religious for-profit employer necessitates overturning Griswold v. Connecticut.

Liberals have come a long way since 1993, when they helped pass—and Bill Clinton signed—the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Back then, they were willing to endorse the principle that the government must have a compelling interest in making a person act contrary to her religious conscience—and even then, government must use the least coercive means to further that interest.

[W. James Antle III’s book, Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped? is available at Amazon]

Whatever the First Amendment implications of the Hobby Lobby case, it is impossible to argue the contraception mandate meets that test. Large swathes of the American public are already exempt from the mandate, so how compelling could the government interest be? Second, there are ways to make birth control more accessible to women without making religious people pay for it.
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Reality Check: 6 Lies The Leftist Media Tells About The Contraception Mandate Cases

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The media narrative is false. Here’s the truth.

 writes:  This week, the Supreme Court will consider whether businesses and their owners must choose between paying millions of dollars in fines and violating their religious beliefs. The outcome of the combined cases, popularly styled Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, will shape how government interacts with religious Americans for decades to come. It is no overstatement to say that an adverse outcome would banish from public life many Americans who wish to go on operating their businesses in accordance with their religious beliefs, as they have for decades.

But a funny thing happens if you pick up a newspaper covering these cases. The leftist papers do not mention the substantial monetary burden put on religious business owners to violate their consciences. The papers do not mention that contraception was both inexpensive and widely available before the contraception mandate, and still is. The papers omit to mention that it isn’t the businesses who have radically changed, but the mandates from government.

Quite simply, if you read a newspaper to find out about the contraception mandate cases, you will read lies. Here are the top six.

Lie 1. The contraception mandate cases are about women’s rights.

The New York Times’ Adam Liptak puts it right there in the first sentence: “The Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear arguments in a case that pits religious liberty against women’s rights.” This could not be further from the truth. Women will have the same constitutional rights to acquire and use contraception regardless of whether Hobby Lobby wins or loses. More than that, they’ll have the exact same rights as they had before the contraception mandate was a gleam in Sec. Sebelius’ eye. What women won’t have is the right to force other people to pay for their contraception, but that has never been a right recognized by the Supreme Court.

In the Bizarro World of the newspapers, not paying for someone else’s contraception is the same thing as prohibiting them from purchasing and using them themselves. This is an obviously false equivalence, but one that leftists are bent on telling themselves. No matter how many times you point out that the business owners in these cases aren’t preventing their employees from purchasing and using contraception, a smug leftist will smile and say “but women’s rights, you see,” as if these magic words excuse the lie.

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Religious Liberty After Arizona

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For The Federalist   writes:  Government, properly understood, is an agent of force. It can cause people to not do things they would otherwise do, and can compel them to do things they otherwise would not do. It does this in small ways and big ways, in nudges and at the end of a gun. At its best, as limited government conservatives and libertarians alike understand, government causes and compels only in those arenas it must, invading the scope of human life as little as possible. At its worst, government becomes, in Saint Augustine’s phrase, a system of “great robberies” where plunder is divided by the law agreed on, and people are subdued by force in accordance to the whims of the powerful elite.

So what are we to make of the divisions that emerged in the course of Arizona’s consideration of its version of a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the responses it inspired? I think it comes down to a matter of priorities, and to the broad-based willingness to let personal inclinations about what society ought to look like overwhelm a reasonable understanding of the ramifications of giving government the power to shape that society.

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Federal court rules against Obamacare contraception mandate

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Chuck Ross reports:  A federal district court judge in Houston ruled Friday in favor of two Baptist universities seeking relief from the Obamacare contraception mandate.

“The religious organization plaintiffs have shown a sincerely held religious belief that the court cannot second-guess,” reads the decision handed down in favor of East Texas Baptist University and Houston Baptist University by Lee H. Rosenthal.

“The plaintiffs have also shown that if they do not comply with a certain requirement that they believe offends that belief, they will face onerous fines.”

“The public interest weighs in favor of granting the injunction. Protecting constitutional rights and the rights under RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] are in the public’s interest,” continued Rosenthal, who was appointed to the U.S. District Court of Southern Texas by George H. W. Bush.

Obamacare initially required all large employers to provide for the coverage of contraceptives and other similar products in all non-grandfathered health insurance plans. The health law required that all plans provide coverage for any FDA-approved “contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.”

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NYT House Editorial on HHS Mandate Cases: Obscuring the Obama Administration’s Hostility to Religious-Liberty Concerns

NYTvsAmerica

Bench Memos at NRO (my new favorite source for judicial news & analysis) on Nov. 27th, Ed Whelan posted a good rebuttal of the NYTimes House Editorial on HHS Mandate cases. It’s a point-by-point takedown that I recommend for any health care consumer, reporter, NYTimes skeptic, religious observer, or like myself, underinformed non-attorney spokesperson.

Ed Whelan writes: Let’s run through the elementary confusions in this New York Times house editorial:

1. NYT charges that “the real assault on religious freedom [is] the assertion by private businesses and their owners of an unprecedented right to impose the owners’ religious views on workers who do not share them.” It contends that the HHS mandate is necessary to “preserve[] an employee’s right to make her own decisions regarding birth control and not to conform to the religious beliefs of her employer.”

But the plaintiff businesses and owners are not trying to “impose [their] religious views on workers.” If they succeed in refusing to comply with the HHS mandate, their employees would remain entirely free to obtain and use the full range of FDA-approved contraceptives and to “make [their] own decisions regarding birth control.” All that the businesses and owners are objecting to is the Obama administration’s insistence on dragooning them to provide insurance coverage that violates their religious beliefs.

If the Obama administration wants to marginally increase the already easy access that employees have to contraceptives, it can do so through alternative means that don’t violate employers’ religious-liberty rights. That’s exactly what the standards set forth in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act contemplate.

2. NYT asserts that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act “was not intended to cover profit-making corporations,” and it observes that the Supreme Court “has never recognized that a secular corporation is an entity capable of engaging in religion.”

As a textual matter, RFRA extends its religious-liberty protections to all “persons,” and relevant federal law (as the third paragraph of this post explains more fully and as even the dissenter in the Seventh Circuit acknowledged) defines “persons” to include corporations. If a law were to require all restaurants to serve pork and to be open on Saturdays, is it really NYT’s belief that a kosher deli run by a Jewish family would not even have a claim under RFRA if the family has incorporated the deli?

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Court Victory: Obama Administration Mandate Violates Religious Liberty

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Kathryn Jean Lopez reports:  A court ruled in favor of religious liberty against the assault on conscience that is the Department of Health and Human Services abortion-drug, contraception, female sterilization Obamacare “preventative services” mandate. A divided D.C. circuit court panel found: “We must determine whether the contraceptive mandate imposed by the Act trammels the right of free exercise—a right that lies at the core of our constitutional liberties—as protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” The case was brought by Frank and Phil Gilardi, two Catholic brothers who own Freshway Foods in Ohio. Ed Whelan’s instant legal analysis is here.

I’ve been writing all morning for various venues, broadly speaking, on the integrated life of faith. (I talked to a cool website, the Integrated Catholic Life about such matters a few months ago here.) Today Catholics celebrate All Saints’ Day, followed by All Souls’ Day tomorrow. As the pope put it this morning, we believe we’re all called to sainthood — he calls it “a vocation for everyone” — a life of holiness, and the sacraments give us the possibility of pulling it off.

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