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Category Archives: Religious Liberty

What Opposing Religious Freedom Really Means

In The Federalist op-ed, Iowa pastor Christopher Neuendorf asserts: “Disagreements are a part of life. As we constantly hear, diversity is built into American culture, and that includes diversity of opinion. I can deal with that. I don’t need everyone to agree with me in order to be a functional member of society.”

With the recent outrage over state laws protecting religious freedom, Rev. Neuendorf identifies a grave concern: in denouncing RFRAs, the rights of any religious individual to exist in our society are being denounced.

ThinkstockPhotos-77872409I’m not exaggerating. I’m not indulging in hyperbole. This is what you’re saying when you post on social media that you are outraged with Indiana’s efforts to protect religious freedom: that I, your family member, friend, neighbor, coworker, fellow citizen, am no longer allowed to exist in your world. I must conform myself to your way of thinking, or face financial ruin and ostracism.

Consider what Indiana’s RFRA offered before Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and his fellow lawmakers neutered it: if sued by a same-sex couple for refusing to provide goods and services that constitute helping celebrate a same-sex wedding, business owners might find protection from devastating lawsuits. Or they might not. It’s up to a judge, and of course we’ve learned not to hope for too much sympathy from our courts these days. But even the potential that a business owner might get away with such stand without facing total annihilation is intolerable to our passionate defenders of non-discrimination.

It doesn’t matter how much we protest that we’re not talking about denying goods and services to our homosexual neighbors as homosexuals. It doesn’t matter that any Christian business would graciously serve food, baked goods, flowers, or any other commodity to any homosexual person who might enter that establishment. It doesn’t matter that we’re talking only about those limited circumstances in which we are expected to become actively involved in the celebration of behavior that our conscience insists is sinful. Such protestations consistently fall on deaf ears.

Rev. Neuendorf has struck on the heart of the “new intolerance”: no one who disagrees is allowed to continue living and working in our society. This is a blatant attempt to justify silencing any opposition. But the “new intolerance” will never be able to change the truth, no matter how aggressively they attack. No matter what, the voices of the American people will still ring loud and clear, for marriage, for truth, and for freedom.

A Country for the People Should be Decided by the People

American history is fraught with differences of opinion: Patriots and Loyalists, Conservatives and Liberals, Federalists and Anti-federalists, to name a few. However, simply because there are two sides to an issue does not provide a reason for the Supreme Court to step in and rule on that issue. As Kyle Duncan writes in an article for Public Discourse:

ThinkstockPhotos-118461784The fact that Americans have reached different conclusions about same-sex marriage is not a sign of a constitutional crisis that requires the Supreme Court to step in. On the contrary, it’s a sign that our Constitution is working the way it should. In our federal system, this issue must be resolved at the state level. To resolve it through federal judicial decree would demean the democratic process, marginalize the views of millions of Americans, and do incalculable damage to our national civic life.

The redefinition of marriage goes even beyond an attack on our society’s core institution. At stake is the role of parenting, rights under family law, and the authority of self-governance:

The step from the older to the newer version of marriage is a momentous one. As Judge Jeffrey Sutton wrote for the Sixth Circuit, the concept of marriage as a man-woman institution is “measured in millennia, not centuries or decades,” and “until recently [it] had been adopted by all governments and major religions of the world.” In Windsor, the Supreme Court similarly observed that “marriage between a man and a woman had been thought of by most people as essential to the very definition of that term and to its role and function throughout the history of civilization.” Thus, when state citizens decide whether to adopt same-sex marriage, one thing appears inescapably true: they are exercising their sovereign authority over the basic architecture of family law.

Only from this perspective can we see what is truly at stake in the same-sex marriage cases. The plaintiffs are not merely asking the Court to recognize a new right. Instead, they are asking the Court to declare that the Constitution removes this issue from democratic deliberation. It is often asked by proponents of same-sex marriage what “harms” would flow from judicial recognition of their claims. From the perspective of democratic self-government, those harms would be severe, unavoidable, and irreversible.

As Duncan logically articulates, marriage, self-government, and civility are all at stake. Sadly, it will take years to pick up the broken pieces of our system, the pieces that cracked when religious freedom and state rights were openly attacked. But if the Supreme Court believes that the American people will watch their right to self-governance be undermined, they are mistaken. And this weekend is just the beginning.

Radio Interview with Brian Brown

smallwefreedoms-journal-squareLonnie Poindexter, host of The Freedom’s Journal Radio Show, recently interviewed NOM President Brian Brown about the upcoming March for Marriage.

Be sure to listen to the full interview below! For more information, feel free to explore the myriad of offerings from Urban Family Communications.

Why Should You Support the 2015 March for Marriage?

The Family Research Council, one of NOM's March for Marriage coalition partners, provides excellent insight into many of the reasons why it is so important to support the upcoming March:

ThinkstockPhotos-146835966With the U.S. Supreme Court set to hear oral arguments regarding the constitutionality of state marriage laws on Tuesday, April 28th, supporters of natural marriage plan to gather in Washington, D.C. on April 25th to rally and pray for the Court. Saturday's "March for Marriage" will begin at noon in front of the U.S. Capitol and finish at the steps of the Supreme Court. Schedule, map, and speakers can all be viewed here.

For the past two years, state and federal courts have dealt with the aftermath of the Supreme Court's 2013 United States v. Windsor decision, mostly choosing to ignore the limits of the holding and instead imposing judicial redefinitions of marriage on states where voters have previously chosen to uphold marriage as the union of a man and a woman. (FRC Senior Fellow Peter Sprigg has written previously regarding Windsor's narrow outcome). This spring, the Supreme Court has the opportunity to correct the course of lower courts and reaffirm its previous declarations that marriage policy "[b]y history and tradition" has been "treated as being within the authority and realm of the separate States."

Given the profound costs to the rule of law, federalism, and First Amendment freedoms that will result from a judicial redefinition of marriage imposed on all fifty states, the Supreme Court would be wise to leave to the democratic process a policy question nowhere answered in the U.S. Constitution. Indeed, when polled earlier this year by WPA Opinion Research, that's precisely the outcome 61% of Americans said they wanted to see. Saturday's March for Marriage will offer thousands of Americans the public opportunity to remind the country and the Court that marriage has profound public importance and deserves the careful definition and debate that can only occur in the democratic process.

Thank you to FRC and everyone else who is marching with us to defend marriage, freedom, and truth!

John Eastman: Just the Facts, Ma'am

More than fifty-million people have, by their votes, demonstrated that they continue to understand the profound importance of marriage. They deserve better than to have the decision to protect or redefine marriage taken out of their hands by the Supreme Court.

ThinkstockPhotos-85447250In his most recent Public Discourse article, NOM Chairman John Eastman takes Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to task  for her egregious declaration: the American people will accept a Supreme Court decision to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples. Justice Ginsburg believes that this decision, which would force all states to license same-sex partners as “married,” will be accepted readily by the American people because “the change in people’s attitudes on that issue has been enormous,” according to Ginsburg.

However, Justice Ginsburg’s inappropriate comments on this subject also turned out to be simply untrue:

The numbers are staggering, though you won’t see them reported in the nation’s major newspapers. The issue has been on the ballot in thirty-nine statewide elections in thirty-five different states. The cumulative total: 51,483,777 votes in favor of retaining the man-woman definition of marriage, versus 33,015,412 votes in favor of same-sex marriage. That’s a vote margin of 60.93 percent to 39.07 percent, a landslide in American politics.

In addition to disproving Justice Ginsburg’s claim, Dr. Eastman also explains why same-sex marriage is not a constitutional right:

The petitioners’ demand that the Court “find” a right to same-sex “marriage” implicit in the text of the Fourteenth Amendment threatens to drag the Supreme Court, and the country, into another such quagmire. If the Constitution clearly compelled such a result, then it would be the “painful duty” of the Court to say so, a position recognized by the Court nearly two centuries ago in the landmark case of McCulloch v. Maryland. But the Constitution’s text does not remotely compel such a result. Without such a clear command, accepting the petitioners’ arguments would more accurately be described as a “self-inflicted wound” than the exercise of a “painful duty.”

So why is it that the Constitution’s text does not mandate same-sex marriage throughout the land? It does provide that “No State shall . . . deny to any person . . . the equal protection of the law.” Hence the “marriage equality” mantra from the proponents of same-sex marriage. That mantra may be a good debating tactic, but it is not a good legal argument, for it assumes the very thing in dispute.

The real truth is that the American people value the institution of marriage, and they are willing to fight to defend it as between one man and one woman. Regardless of Justice Ginsberg's personal opinions, Americans will not passively watch their precious rights and institutions crumble. Sorry Justice Ginsburg, but those are the facts.

You can read the full article via Public Discourse.

VICTORY! Angie's List CEO Resigns

Less than a month after we launched our Dump Angie initiative, 2,290 former Angie's List members have canceled their accounts following the company's attack on the rights of Christians and other faiths, and an additional 4,938 have written the company with their disapproval, saying they would not be using Angie's List in the future. Thank you to all who have made the Dump Angie pledge!

In addition to thousands of marriage supporters taking action, now a second victory has emerged from our Dump Angie petition: Bill Oesterie has “surprised” everyone by voluntarily stepping down from his position as CEO of the company. Having co-founded the subscription service in 1995, Oesterie is leaving at one of the company’s rockiest times, due to its decision to withhold business from Indiana after the state passed a bill protecting the religious freedom rights of its citizens.

What Oesterie quickly learned was that discrimination against Christians is still, in fact, discrimination, and that does not sit well with the American people. However it seems that Oesterie does not want to publicly let on that the reaction to his stance against religious freedom influenced this latest decision:

ThinkstockPhotos-78052032 (1)Oesterle's public reasons for leaving the company are to "re-enter politics" -- although the last several weeks would suggest he never left them. Feeling the pain of a boycott, the pinch of another downward year (the Indianapolis Star says the business "relies heavily on investor money to stay afloat"), and a public decision to put his company at odds with the First Amendment almost certainly contributed to the sudden departure. Still, Oesterle says, his goal is to reverse the "shellacking" Indiana took in the RFRA debate.

"I can maybe do some things to help resolve some of the state's issues." His position as CEO, he explained, is "incompatible" with his political involvement -- a view that was no doubt reinforced courtesy of former subscribers. Even when Governor Mike Pence (R-Ind.) watered down the language protecting the freedom of belief, Oesterle complained that he didn't go far enough. "I abhor discrimination, I just do. I certainly support religious freedom... right up to the point that [it] discriminates against somebody else and actively does so." Like so many faux religious liberty supporters, he wants to protect everyone of discrimination but the true victims: men and women of faith.

Whether Oesterie or the media will admit it, it was the men and women who believe in their religious freedom rights who showed Oesterie the real effects of attacking the first amendment. Oesterie is one of many who have learned the hard way that marriage defenders are not submissive: they are refusing to compromise on something as important as marriage and family.

This is a great victory for religious freedom, and there are many more to come!

Diverse Faith Groups Come Together to Defend Marriage

As the battle to protect marriage makes it way to the Supreme Court, 19 religious organizations have filed a friend-of-the-court brief asking our Supreme Court justices to uphold the true definition of marriage and honor religious freedom:

ThinkstockPhotos-464959725"Notwithstanding our theological differences, we are united in declaring that the traditional institution of marriage is indispensable to the welfare of the American family and society," according to the brief filed earlier this month.

"We are also united in our belief that a decision requiring the states to license or recognize same-sex marriage would generate church-state conflicts that will imperil vital religious liberties."

It is wonderful to see varied denominations, such as the National Association of Evangelicals, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Assemblies of God and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, all come together to protect the essential institution of marriage.

Speaking about the decision to unite, Eric Hawkins of the LDS Church said:

"While we have been outspoken proponents in favor of protections for LGBT people in such areas as housing and employment, we believe that a redefinition of marriage to include same–sex couples has profoundly troubling implications for society in the long-term. We have therefore joined with many other diverse faiths representing tens of millions of Americans in expressing our views to the Supreme Court.”

These groups should be applauded for not only their commitment to defending marriage, but also for allowing their united beliefs to bring them together to represent the voices of many other Americans. This joint group bears many similarities to another group who put aside their differences to establish the laws protecting our rights and freedom: the founding fathers.

Thank you to all who refuse to be silent about the true nature of marriage! Together, we will make our voices heard and protect marriage as it has always been, and no matter what, will always remain: a sacred union between one man and woman.

The Support of the American People Cannot Be Ignored

It is encouraging to see Americans stand up to support people of faith who have the courage to defend marriage in the public square:

9V6A9870A Washington florist who refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding and was subsequently fined by a state court after she cited her Christian belief in traditional marriage as her reason for not participating in a gay marriage ceremony, has garnered over $102,000 in donations from supporters who've contributed to her on a crowd funding page.

Baronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene's Flowers, has received donations from people across the nation thanks to a gofundme.com page set up in February. Her story received attention when she refused to sell flowers to a same-sex couple for their wedding. Stutzman was fined $1,001 in March for her refusal to serve the couple. She said that she would continue to practice her religious beliefs, as was her right.

The crowdfunding page supporting Stutzman has now passed $150,000!

This comes on the heels of over $840,000 in contributions flooding into Indiana to support the owners of Memories Pizza. After speaking out that they would turn down a hypothetical same-sex ‘wedding’ because it violates their religious beliefs, Memories Pizza was viciously attacked by same-sex marriage advocates.

With American liberties are under attack, the support being shown by the American people for these individuals is a testimony to the moral conscious and courage of our nation.

We hope that all those who contributed to support these courageous individuals will join us in Washington, D.C. on April 25th to participate in the 2015 March for Marriage. (Remember that you can also show your support by participating in the virtual march!)

Fight Back Against The Intolerance!


Dear Marriage Supporter,

I wrote to you last week to tell you about the fight for religious liberty in the state of Indiana.

Under intense pressure from the media, corporations and the gay 'marriage' lobby, Indiana eventually rolled back their religious protection law with a "fix" to the legislation that isn't a fix at all, but a capitulation to the gay 'marriage' lobby at the expense of religious liberty.

While we are disappointed in Governor Mike Pence and the Republican-led Legislature for not having the courage of their convictions, it was big business that threw the rights of people of faith under the bus. Companies like Angie's List took the lead in these efforts, demonstrating an unbelievably intolerant and hostile position toward the freedom of religion and people of faith.

Well, apparently, they aren't even satisfied with this "fix."

Angie's List CEO Bill Oesterle said on television late last week: "Our position is that this 'fix' is insufficient. There was no repeal of RFRA and no end to discrimination of homosexuals in Indiana."

Of course, it's patently false that discrimination against homosexuals is legal in Indiana.

More to the point... it's leading people away from the truth: that people of faith are the ones being discriminated against and their religious freedom to live and run their businesses in keeping with their faith is under violent and extreme assault!

Marriage Supporter, we have to send the business community and especially Angie's List a message: threaten religious freedom at your own risk! We are calling on Americans to Dump Angie!

Please take a moment to take action today:

1. If you haven't done so already, please go to www.DumpAngie.com and sign our petition — whether you have an account on Angie's List or not. And if you have an Angie's List account, we're asking that you cancel it and let the company know that you are doing so because they oppose religious liberty (detailed instructions on how to do this are at the end of this email).

2. Forward this email to family and friends using the buttons below (or by simply forwarding them this email).

We have to make clear to big businesses that we will not be bullied. We have a chance to show the power of people of faith working together. This is your chance to do something for religious liberty and marriage. Let's do this together!

Faithfully,

Brian S Brown

PS: As I mentioned yesterday, we have received an extension of our matching gift through April 25 along with a pledge of $50,000 additional dollars in matching funds. That means anything you give will continue to be matched dollar-for-dollar by another generous donor up until the 2015 March for Marriage. The timing couldn't be better, as we are getting flooded with requests to help fund buses to allow people to attend the march — particularly from Churches serving minority communities in less affluent areas of the country. Won't you please help these communities out by making a donation today to help us subsidize bus transportation to bring hundreds and thousands of additional marriage supporters to the March?

A Voice for Marriage in Alabama

In Alabama, fellow marriage defenders are working hard to protect marriage as the unique bond between one man and one woman. In the upcoming months, they are offering some wonderful opportunities for all to let their state leaders know what they, the people of Alabama, are fighting for the biblical, natural, and traditional definition of marriage. 

Read on to learn more about the events in Alabama, and be sure to check out their website: AlabamaforMarriage.com

4theheader

Alabama! Be a voice for truth: Marriage = One Man + One Woman
During the month of May, join thousands of believers at events across Alabama,
and in Montgomery on June 6th, to send a united message to elected officials,
the Supreme Court and to the world: Alabama is for Marriage.

Should Christian Business Owners Refuse, or Reallocate?

ThinkstockPhotos-459568745Across our nation, we hear news about Christian florists, bakeries, and now, a pizzeria being forced to close after turning down business pertaining to same-sex wedding ceremonies. And what has ensued is an affront to America's liberty laws: Christians are being slammed with lawsuits under the pretense of “discrimination” when in reality, it is the LGBT activists who champion and practice discrimination.

Fr. John Zuhisdorf suggests that Christians utilize a different tactic. When a same-sex couple approaches a Christian business owner for a same-sex wedding ceremony, Fr. Zuhisdorf suggests that Christian business owners accept the business, but donate every dollar of the profits to support pro-marriage and religious liberty causes.

In his blog post, Fr. Zuhisdorf explains:

Tell them that the food and services will be just fine.  And then inform them that all of the money that they pay for the services will be donated to a traditional pro-family lobby.   If it is something like catering, where your employees have to be there to provide services, tell them that all your people will smile, be professional, and everyone of them will be wearing crucifixes and have the Holy Family embroidered on their uniforms.  Then show them pictures of your uniforms.  When the truck pulls up, speakers will be playing Immaculate Mary.  Show them the truck and play the music.

“Oh, you would be offended by that?  I’m so sorry.  You approached us because we are Christians. Right?  We are happy to provide services for you and we are grateful that you chose to come to our Christian catering business.  We just want to be of help.”

Then tell them that you will take out an ad in the paper to let everyone know what you did with their money, thanking them by name for their business so that you could make the contribution.

I suspect this approach, if adopted far and wide, would put an end to attacks on Christian businesses.

It certainly is an interesting approach, and if practiced, would undoubtedly generate many more news stories. As our nation battles to protect religious liberty, it is not a bad idea to have multiple tactics at the ready. Business is business, but marriage is the foundation of our society. Ultimately, when it comes to marriage, there can be no compromise.

Dump Angie: Take Action Right Now to Promote Religious Liberty



Dear Marriage Supporter,

Many times we at NOM are asked by supporters what can one person do to stand for marriage or stand for religious freedom. With the March for Marriage around the corner in Washington DC, on April 25th that's one important thing you can do. But right now we have an opportunity to highlight to the business community the effects of attacking religious liberty.

Here's what you can do now.

As you know Angie's List has said that they are halting a $40 million expansion of their facility in Indiana to protest passage of the common sense religious liberty bill that simply gives people of faith their day in court to fight government from coercing them to participate in something they oppose on religious grounds. Angie's List thinks attacking the rights of Christians and other faiths is smart business. It's time for you to do four simple things that will take less than five minutes but will send a big message.

If you have an Angie's list account:

1. Sign into your account. Leave one last review on Angie's List of any company you like that makes clear that you are leaving Angie's List because they oppose religious freedom. Encourage everyone else to do this same.

2. At the right hand bottom corner of the page is a "Contact Us" button. Click that button. On the next page is a drop down menu under, "My Question is About" select "Membership Cancellation." Under subject write in "Cancel My Membership." Finally, write in the question box that you are cancelling Angie's List because of their efforts to oppose Religious Liberty legislation in Indiana. Ask that your account be canceled immediately.

3. Sign the petition here and make it clear that you have canceled your account, so we can keep track of how many people have cancelled. THIS IS CRITICAL.

4. Finally, ask all of you friends and family to do the same.

If you do not have an Angie's List account:

1. Sign this petition here.

2. Ask all of your friends and family to do the same.

We have to make clear to big businesses that we will not be bullied, forced to let the government coerce our participation in something we find that violates our religious principles. We have a chance to show the power of people of faith working together. This is your chance to do something for religious liberty and marriage. Let's do this together!

Thanks,

Brian S Brown

For the Sake of Tolerance, Protect Religious Liberty

“Religious-liberty protections are one way of achieving civil peace even amid disagreement. The United States is a pluralistic society. To protect that pluralism and the rights of all Americans, of whatever faith they may practice, religious-liberty laws are good policy. Liberals committed to tolerance should embrace them.” 

ThinkstockPhotos-478624257In a Washington Post op-ed, The Heritage Foundation’s Ryan T. Anderson and Edwin Meese III, U.S. attorney general from 1985 to 1988, defend the Religious Freedom Restoration Acts that have so viciously come under attack:

Who favors coercion in this debate? Who opposes tolerance and pluralism? The answer to both questions: activists on the left.

The laws under attack — Religious Freedom Restoration Acts — are designed to shield all faiths from government coercion. These acts have, for example, protected a Sikh woman’s freedom to carry religious articles at her workplace. They have allowed a Native American boy to wear his hair long, according to his religious beliefs, at his school.

They also might protect those who hold the belief — attested to from the beginning of the Hebrew Bible to the end of the Christian Bible and throughout the Koran — that marriage is the union of man and woman.

And that’s the belief that the left cannot abide. Well-funded special-interest groups refuse to respect the liberty of people of faith who simply ask to be left alone by government to run their charities, schools and businesses in accordance with their beliefs about marriage.

You can read the full article here.

The Truth



Dear Marriage Supporter,

The media firestorm of the past few days surrounding laws passed in Indiana and Arkansas protecting religious liberty would be comical if it weren't so tragic.

The media "reporting" on these bills seems to be nothing more than reiterating talking points from groups like Freedom to Marry and the Human Rights Campaign. It's filled with outright lies about what the proposed legislation does.

The media is even quoting Miley Cyrus, as if she has some knowledge of these issues! I am willing to bet that virtually none of the reporters has actually read the legislation that was enacted.

This is what we're up against. Our opponents make up horror stories and they get spread through the news and social media and repeated as if they were fact. The only way to get the truth out is for us to speak boldly and tell people ourselves what the real facts are.

This is why we're organizing the 2015 March for Marriage — to show the media and the elites that the American people continue to support the truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. And this is why we're marching under the banner of "March for Freedom... March for Truth... March for Marriage!"

We're less than one month away from the March and I need your support today to make it a success.

Won't you please prayerfully consider making a donation in support of the March?

I'll make a quick donation of $35.00

I'll make a quick donation of $50.00

I'll make a quick donation of $100.00

I'll make a quick donation of $250.00

I'll make a quick donation of $500.00

I'll make a larger donation...

Remember, your donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar by another generous donor. We still have about $10,000 to raise to reach our $100,000 goal.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA) have already been passed by dozens of states and at the Federal level. These laws have been on the books for decades. Yet the media would have you believe that in Indiana and Arkansas, these laws will suddenly result in unprecedented abuse and discrimination against homosexual individuals.

It's absurd. The "parade of horribles" being spun by gay rights groups is completely made up. There is no record anywhere of people using religious freedom to discriminate against gays and lesbians. But there is an overwhelming record of cases where people of faith have been discriminated against for acting in concert with their faith and punished by government for doing so.

The laws in Indiana, Arkansas and elsewhere simply help people of faith defend against actions by the government attempting to compel them to participate in activities like same-sex weddings that violate their deeply held religious beliefs.

The legislation does not exempt anyone from a claim of discrimination, nor does it apply to claims brought by individuals. The law simply allows a citizen to raise in court a religious objection to defend against an attempt by government to force him or her to participate in an activity against their will.

Even then, the government can overcome the defense by showing that there is a compelling government interest in compelling the action and that it has chosen the least restrictive means possible to do so.

Does that sound like something that is extreme? Of course not.

And that is why the federal law that's been on the books for over two decades passed the House of Representatives unanimously and the US Senate by a vote of 97-3! And it's why President Bill Clinton signed it into law.

Marriage Supporter, we've got to get on offense and take our case for marriage to the American people. This is why the March for Marriage is so important. People of faith are being bullied and harassed for simply clinging to the belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. It needs to stop!

Won't you please stand with us and support the March for Marriage with a generous donation today?

I'll make a quick donation of $35.00

I'll make a quick donation of $50.00

I'll make a quick donation of $100.00

I'll make a quick donation of $250.00

I'll make a quick donation of $500.00

I'll make a larger donation...

Faithfully,

Brian S Brown

Answers to Your Honest Questions about Indiana's RFRA Legislation

Have questions about the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act? The Heritage Foundation's Ryan T. Anderson and Sarah Torre have answers.

Won’t the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act allow business owners to refuse service to LGBT people?

Religious Liberty CensoredNo, and no one is interested in refusing to serve gays and lesbians simply because of their sexual orientation. And no one has ever successfully used Religious Freedom Restoration Act to defend such actions. As law professor and religious liberty expert Douglas Laycock—a same-sex marriage supporter—notes:

I know of no American religious group that teaches discrimination against gays as such, and few judges would be persuaded of the sincerity of such a claim. The religious liberty issue with respect to gays and lesbians is about directly facilitating the marriage, as with wedding services and marital counseling.

Religious liberty concerns typically stem from those involved in the wedding industry being penalized by the government because they declined to participate in a same-sex wedding ceremony.

There are now numerous cases of photographers, florists, cake makers and farmers being forced to participate in celebrating same-sex weddings in violation of their belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. These are citizens who have no problem serving gays and lesbians but do object to celebrating same-sex weddings.

Religious liberty isn’t an absolute right. Religious liberty doesn’t always trump other values or rights. Religious liberty is balanced with concerns for a compelling state interest that’s being pursued in the least-restrictive means possible. The Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act, like all similar laws, doesn’t determine the outcome of a particular case. It simply provides a way for citizens to go into court to have their individual case reviewed by a court.

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