Bad faith in In­di­ana

The Democrats and the gays man­u­fac­ture a ‘cri­sis’ for po­lit­i­cal ends

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

The row over In­di­ana’s re­li­gious lib­erty law breaks new ground in the war be­tween re­li­gious lib­erty and the lib­eral po­lit­i­cal agenda. If there’s no con­flict, you have to make one up. This con­tretemps blew up out of nowhere, and in­quir­ing minds want to know how and why it hap­pened.

Any­one who thinks there’s not a war against those of re­li­gious faith, if not reli­gion it­self, has not been pay­ing at­ten­tion. The Wall Street Jour­nal says re­li­gious lib­erty is los­ing the war with the lib­eral agenda, and it’s hard to ar­gue with that. The army of the Lord only sees its gen­er­als run to the tall grass at the first sound of the pop guns.

The Democrats and their shrill al­lies in the gay rights lobby needed a beef with some­body, and the In­di­ana law lay con­ve­niently at hand. The Democrats, mo­rose and de­jected af­ter the drub­bing they took in the con­gres­sional elec­tions that left them with the fewest mem­bers of Congress in 80 years, and stuck with an ex­hausted and bruised pres­i­den­tial can­di­date that no­body re­ally wants, looked for some­thing to put a lit­tle fire in par­ti­san bel­lies.

The gay lobby, em­bold­ened by the un­ex­pected ju­di­cial ac­cep­tance of same-sex mar­riage, wants to strike now for its ul­ti­mate goal, a popular ac­knowl­edg­ment that its rites of love, re­garded as sor­did and un­men­tion­able by most peo­ple, are just as re­spectable as any­body else’s. They want not just same-sex mar­riage, but that it be cheered as au­then­tic by every­body.

In­di­ana’s re­li­gious free­dom act is a close copy of the fed­eral Re­li­gious Free­dom Restora­tion Act, which passed the U.S. Se­nate in 1993 by a vote of 97 to 3 and was ea­gerly signed by Pres­i­dent Clin­ton. Democrats and Repub­li­cans, the ACLU and the Chris­tian Coali­tion, all lifted cheers to the heav­ens. There were no squeaks from the gay lobby. The In­di­ana law is sim­i­lar to re­li­gious free­dom laws in 19 other states, in­clud­ing such red­neck re­doubts as Con­necti­cut and Rhode Is­land.

The In­di­ana law en­ables some­one who sues to re­dress in­fringe­ment of his re­li­gious lib­erty to cite re­li­gious prac­tice as a de­fense. The law re­quires the gov­ern­ment to show a com­pelling rea­son for in­fring­ing, such as, for ex­am­ple, re­quir­ing horse-drawn Amish bug­gies to obey traf­fic reg­u­la­tions, or churches to obey san­i­ta­tion codes in feed­ing the home­less.

The law def­i­nitely does not grant re­li­gious im­mu­nity for any­thing, and merely rais­ing re­li­gious lib­erty as a de­fense does not guar­an­tee that such a de­fense will pre­vail in a court. It of­ten prob­a­bly won’t. The Democrats know this, the gay ca­balleros know this, and most of the mem­bers of the mob de­scend­ing on In­di­ana know this. But you can’t ex­cite the mob and you can’t raise money if you don’t have some­thing out­ra­geous to shout about.

Gov. Mike Pence and the In­di­ana leg­is­la­ture at­tempted to de­fend a law that needs no de­fense, with speeches and op-eds, but with the good will that the other side shows no will­ing­ness to copy they now of­fer to clar­ify the law to meet cur­rent ob­jec­tions. “Both op­po­nents and pro­po­nents were in­di­cat­ing they felt the lan­guage al­lowed a de­nial of ser­vices to gay Hoosiers,” says Rep. Brian Bosma, the Repub­li­can speaker of the In­di­ana House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. “That def­i­nitely wasn’t the in­tent, nor do I think it was the ef­fect, but we in­tend to take ac­tion to make [that] clear.” A sim­i­lar bill, now work­ing its way through the Arkansas leg­is­la­ture, has been de­layed for sim­i­lar scru­tiny to meet sim­i­lar con­cerns.

But if the de­fend­ers of such leg­is­la­tion think this will be the end of the af­fair, they are much mis­taken. “Gay rights groups, as they be­come stronger and get more sup­port for same-sex mar­riage, keep de­mand­ing more and more,” says Dou­glas Lay­cock, a dis­tin­guished re­li­gious law pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­sity of Vir­ginia. “Now they don’t want a re­li­gious ex­cep­tion for any­body.”

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