Bad faith in Indiana
The Democrats and the gays manufacture a ‘crisis’ for political ends
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.”