Category Archives: Faith & Freedom

Gov. Brewer Takes another Whack at Religious Freedom

We told you earlier this year that religious freedom is more at risk today under Governor Jan Brewer than it ever was under former Gov. Napolitano. Under pressure from far Left extremists several weeks ago, she vetoed an amendment which would have protected religious freedom in Arizona. And now further proof:

Brewer vetoed a bill that would have equal treatment for churches with regard to property taxes.

HB 2281 was supported by Republicans and Democrats. The Arizona Constitution exempts churches from paying property taxes. But churches that rent facilities for their worship services don’t enjoy the same exemption. HB 2281 would have remedied that.

Governor Brewer sided with atheists in opposing this bill.

How sad. How disappointed we are in this governor.

Homofascist Tyranny Growing out of Control

Homosexual Fascists at ASU Spray Marriage Supporters with Pesticide

Watch the video here: http://barbwire.com/2014/04/09/shocking-video-attacked-gay-stapo/

The message is clear: if you oppose same-sex “marriage,” you must be shut down, you must be punished … by fascists who are unwilling to allow you to have a different opinion, to allow you the freedom to disagree with them.

These people are engaging in appalling criminal activities across the nation with no response from law enforcement authorities.

State Religious Freedom Laws: Understanding the Purpose and Impact

By Joseph LaRue

Suppose members of the white-supremacist Aryan Nation Church decide to hold a rally where they will preach that “God only loves white people.” They tell a local African-American photographer this and say they want to hire her to photograph the rally because they need photos for a promotional brochure.

Assume that the photographer has the religious belief that God loves everybody. Should she have to take the photos for Aryan Nation? Most of us would respond, “Of course not.”

But the legal answer might be different. Most states prohibit discrimination against a customer because of the customer’s religious beliefs. And in those states, if the members of Aryan Nation sued the photographer for discriminating against them pursuant to the state nondiscrimination law, the photographer might lose and face substantial fines as a result.

At first glance, nondiscrimination ordinances seem to make sense. Most of us would not want businesses to be able to deny someone service because of things like the color of their skin, the religion they follow, or whether they are attracted to people of the same or opposite sex.

But while most of us would generally agree with nondiscrimination ordinances as policy statements, these days they are of questionable value as law. Most businesses would never deny someone service based on the types of characteristics nondiscrimination ordinances protect. Business owners know that it is bad for business to be known as a place of bigotry or intolerance.

But what happens in those rare cases where a business owner is asked to participate in an event that violates her deepest religious beliefs or to give voice to a message that violates her conscience?

Note that the service and not the customer is at issue, contrary to how many have attempted to frame the debate. It’s not that the African-American photographer, for example, is refusing to serve someone who happens to be a member of Aryan Nation. She is willing to take his portrait or photograph his dog, for example. The problem arises when the member of Aryan Nation is asking the photographer to promote the message of Aryan Nation with her creative talents.

Sadly, the nondiscrimination ordinances usually still apply. In many states, if Aryan Nation filed a discrimination lawsuit, they might win, leaving the photographer to pay crippling fines. In other states, however, a religious liberty defense is available to the photographer if providing requested services would violate her sincerely held religious beliefs.

Generally known as Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, or RFRAs, these state laws are modeled after the federal RFRA that Congress overwhelmingly passed in 1993. Signed by President Bill Clinton, the federal RFRA received a unanimous vote in the House and a 97 to 3 vote in the Senate. It legislatively overturned the US Supreme Court’s Employment Division of Oregon v. Smith decision. That case weakened First Amendment free exercise protection when it ruled that laws that are neutral (that is, don’t target religion) and generally applicable (that is, apply to everyone) are constitutional, even if they cause a person to violate her religious beliefs.

Prior to Smith, the court applied what is known as strict scrutiny review to laws that burden religious belief or practice. See, e.g., Sherbert v. Verner; Wisconsin v. Yoder; Thomas v. Review Bd. of Ind. Emp’t Sec. Div.. Under that test, the law had to further a compelling interest, which was understood to be only an interest of the highest order, and had to be the least restrictive means of accomplishing the interest. So even if the government had a compelling interest for its law, the law could not be applied constitutionally to someone if it could accomplish its purpose without forcing the person to violate her faith.

Smith said that the strict scrutiny test no longer applied to neutral, generally applicable laws that burdened religious faith and practice. So while government could not enact a law that banned, let’s say, the religious rite of circumcision while allowing medical doctors to perform circumcisions, it might be able to enact a law that banned all circumcisions, as as San Francisco recently contemplated doing.

The federal RFRA overruled the Smith decision by restoring the strict scrutiny test for all laws that burdened religious faith and practice, regardless of whether they were neutral and generally applicable. The Supreme Court subsequently ruled in City of Boerne v. Flores that, while Congress could require that federal laws burdening religion survive strict scrutiny, it could not impose that requirement on the states. So states began passing their own RFRAs, which required that any law burdening their state constitutional free exercise clause must further a compelling interest and be the least restrictive means of accomplishing that interest.

To date, eighteen states (including Arizona, where the recently vetoed SB 1062 was proposed) have passed a state RFRA, and the high courts of eight additional states have ruled that state laws burdening the free exercise of religion must survive strict scrutiny review. The District of Columbia also provides RFRA protection.

Over the past twenty years, hundreds of lawsuits have involved federal and state RFRAs, but not a single one has involved a business owner who wanted to deny basic services like food, clothing, necessary medical care, hotel rooms or taxi cab rides to people because of their skin color, sex or sexual preferences. In fact, none has concerned skin color or sex, and only one (Elane Photography v. Willock, discussed below), has even touched on “sexual orientation.” Rather, RFRA cases typically involve things like zoning restrictions that make it impossible for religious groups to use property, as in Irshad Learning Center v. City of Dupage, or prison regulations that make it difficult for prisoners to live consistently with their faith, as in Muhammad v. Crosby.

With RFRA, a litigant is at least allowed to assert a free-exercise-based claim or defense so that a court or administrative law body is required to apply the compelling interest test. RFRA does not guarantee that the litigant wins and the law cannot apply to her. Rather, RFRA means that when a law burdens free exercise of religion, it has to survive strict scrutiny in order to apply to the one whose exercise of religion is burdened. RFRA makes certain that government cannot willy-nilly enact laws that violate people’s faith and so discriminate against people of faith.

Since the enactment of the federal RFRA, it has always been understood that a person could assert a RFRA claim or defense any time a law or policy enacted by the government substantially burdened his or her free exercise of religion. That all changed last year with Elane, in which the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that RFRA was inapplicable if the government was not the one enforcing its law.

Elane concerned Elaine Huguenin, a young photographer who wanted to run her business consistent with her religious faith. As a result, Huguenin would not accept certain jobs. For instance, she declined to take nude photos, even when some would argue that the photography would be “tasteful.” And she had a strict policy against photographing any depiction of violent behavior. In sum, Huguenin would not use her artistic talent to further messages at odds with her religious beliefs.

The trouble for Huguenin started when two women asked her to photograph their “commitment ceremony,” as they called it. Huguenin would gladly provide other photographic services for customers who identify as homosexual, including portraits, photographs capturing political rallies, etc. It was not the fact that the two women were a same-sex couple that prevented her from photographing their ceremony. Rather, it was the event itself: her religious beliefs would not allow her to photograph what amounted to a same-sex wedding.

Accepting the job would require her to attend the ceremony, which her faith teaches would amount to participating in something that is morally wrong. But more obviously, she would also have to pose the couple to get the right shots. This would require her to instruct the couple on how to kiss, where to caress, etc. A wedding photographer is entrusted with capturing the memories and creating the pictorial message that tells the story of the couple’s love and their wedding as something that is beautiful.

Because of her beliefs, Huguenin could not in good conscience tell that story. Nor could she do the other things required of a wedding photographer. To do so would force her to both act contrary to her faith and also use her artistic talent to create a message with which she disagreed. So, she very politely thanked the same-sex couple for their interest but declined, telling the couple that she did not photograph same-sex ceremonies.

In a sane world, Huguenin’s polite answer to the same-sex couple would have been the end of the story, but in this case, it wasn’t. The case against her went all the way to the New Mexico Supreme Court, which said, in contrast to all twenty years of RFRA history, that it only applies when the government is enforcing its law directly. If the government delegates that responsibility to a private party, such that a private party can sue to enforce state law, then RFRA does not apply.

This ruling was unprecedented. It is also probably an outlier. However, it means that, in New Mexico at least, an African-American photographer could be forced to shoot photos for Aryan Nation. Because New Mexico allows private parties to enforce its nondiscrimination law, the state RFRA would no more save this photographer than it saved Elane Photography.

Because of this decision and other similar cases around the nation, Arizona’s legislature passed SB 1062 to clarify that Arizona’s RFRA, which has been on the books since 1999, could be asserted whenever a law burdened a person’s free exercise of religion—regardless of whether the government was the one enforcing the law. It did not, as has been commonly and erroneously reported, create a license to discriminate. It would not have allowed businesses to begin kicking people out of their establishments because of skin color or sexual preference.

No business would have done that anyway for reasons mentioned above, and, if the state RFRA was fomenting such discrimination, then it would have been apparent already since the law has been in place for fifteen years. The fact that the opponents of SB 1062 could not point to actual examples of anyone being denied services, but rather had to raise the possibility as a shadowy boogey-man, is telling.

SB 1062 was not about allowing people to discriminate. Rather, just as numerous respected legal scholars have explained, the bill would have clarified that, under Arizona law, the government cannot discriminate against people of faith by enacting laws that burden faith but then don’t allow private parties to enforce them. In New Mexico, the government can do that and so avoid strict scrutiny review.

Religious freedom is still protected in Arizona even though Brewer vetoed SB 1062 because Arizona still has its RFRA. SB 1062 was not essential to the fight against discrimination against people of faith; it merely would have clarified what has always been understood to lessen the chances of a court getting it wrong. Still, it is troubling that some people opposed SB 1062 for imaginary reasons and seemed so ready to endorse discrimination against people because of their religious beliefs. Thankfully, this view is at odds with that of most Americans.

Spencer Lewis Jr., district director of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) Philadelphia District Office, recently said that “[n]o employee should be forced to violate his religious beliefs in order to earn a living.” Lewis is right. And no business owner should be forced to, either.

Joseph La Rue, legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, testified in favor of SB 1062 before two Arizona legislative committees.

 

Can You Afford a Democrat Governor?

Can you afford Fred DuVal for four years as governor of Arizona?

Can your family budget endure the higher cost of living that comes with Democrats in office?

Are you ready to hand over more of your constitutional freedom to a Democrat?

Are you ready to experience less control over your own life?

Are you ready to pay higher taxes?

Are you willing to let a Democrat governor get between you and your doctor?

And endure even more regulation of and interference with your personal life?

And kiss your vacations good-bye?

Is our state government still not big enough yet?

Fred DuVal is a member of the Party of Control, which wants to exert greater and greater control over your personal life. The Party of Control could not care less about the Constitution and your freedom; it will do whatever it can get away with.

DuVal is running for governor this fall. Don’t let him win. Stay free.

World Magazine Demonstrates Gov. Brewer’s 1062 Folly

pic_giant_022814_SM_Brewers-Foolish-Veto[1]We’ve had a month now to reflect on the fiasco that was Gov. Jan Brewer vetoing a bill that would have strengthened protections for religious freedom in Arizona. So many things were wrong about the whole debacle.

Only one side got its message out — and that was a message of lies and distortions. Yet the homosexual pressure groups and their compliant media easily rode roughshod over a jittery, wobbly-kneed governor and Republican lawmakers.

Where were the co-sponsors of the bill? Where was their press conference? Where were their efforts to counter the lies?

In the end, Gov. Brewer was pressured — like a skittish young bison calf surrounded by hungry wolves. She went into stampede mode and was no match for the “predators.” She never took the time to explain what the law was really about, how it amended an existing law, why it was needed, and why it was not the threat the radical leftists were screaming about. All she did was react to the people with the loudest, angriest voices. It was pure knee jerk reaction and cowardice. She froze like a deer in the headlight, then cut and ran. The Left is probably shocked at how easily they intimidated her.

World magazine’s Mindy Belz posted a superb analysis of what happened. Following are portions of her March 22nd commentary:

Arizona has had its own RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] since 1999. The now tarred-and-feathered SB 1062 would have modified it two ways — covering residents in the conduct of their businesses, and covering them when sued by a private citizen invoking state or local law. To label it an “anti-gay bill” as most media have done is like calling the sun anti-gay for shining on homosexuals and heterosexuals alike.

To be sure, Arizona’s amended RFRA could have been invoked should a Christian florist be taken to court by the state attorney general for refusing to provide flowers for a [homosexual] wedding, as is happening in Washington state. But nothing in the Arizona amendments would have said who wins such a case, and religious adherents — as in all RFRA laws — have to demonstrate they possess a “sincerely held belief” that’s being needlessly violated.

The capitulation of Brewer, a conservative and a Christian, is both monumental and understandable. To veto the law she had to ignore the advice of 11 of the most eminent American legal scholars and jurists. Their Feb. 25 letter to the governor declared the bill “egregiously misrepresented” by its critics, enacting “a broadly applicable standard” that would uncomplicate litigation. The signers, including Harvard’s Mary Ann Glendon and Stanford’s Michael W. McConnell, noted, “Some of us are Republicans, some of us are Democrats. Some of us are religious; some of us are not. Some of us oppose same-sex marriage; some of us support it.”

But in the end, SB 1062 wasn’t about the law. It was about jackboot politics and the growing economic clout of LGBT groups. The NFL threatened to move the 2015 Super Bowl elsewhere, and the prospect of hosting a 2016 presidential convention seemed threatened. Arizona chambers of commerce and the state’s leading newspaper all came out against it, saying it would destroy business in an already stalled economy.

Bewer claimed in her veto that SB 1062 was a solution that doesn’t exist. Yet.

Indeed, it was all about jackboot politics and the fascist tactics of the Left. They will only be emboldened the next time the legislature passes a bill to protect religious freedom. And how many more “Brewers” are there in the legislature who will be too fearful of the Left to protect religious freedom? Some of them, Bob Worsley and others, have already showed their face, and there will be more. Further proof that radio commentator Dennis Prager is right when he says: “Democrats are the party of evil. Republicans are the party of stupid.”

As for the NFL, Commissioner Roger Goodell has become a shill for the homosexual agenda. Arizona was never going to lose the Super Bowl. He was bluffing in order to intimidate the governor.

As for the chambers and big business, they are totally in bed with radical causes — because they fear pressure groups and boycotts. That’s why Big Business more often than not yields to demands for activities under the corporate flag for homosexual employees. As Jonah Goldberg asked in his book “Liberal Fascism” …

If big business is so right-wing, why do huge banks fund liberal and left-wing charities, activists, and advocacy groups, then brag about it in commercials and publicity campaigns?

Goldberg could easily have included a lengthy list of other corporations besides banks. Leftism among corporations is rampant. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce is no different.

 

The Republican Party will Achieve Unity when …

Unity. It’s the elusive quest for Republican leaders locally and nationally.

Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said in a radio interview at last week’s Conservative Political Action Committee convention that he’s seeking unity in the party.

And just recently I read a blog by the outgoing leader of the Republican legislative district in Scottsdale. He listed the accomplishments of his time as district chairman, thanked those who had helped him, and expressed regret at his inability to gain party unity.

To these men’s credit, they tried to do the impossible. Anyone striving to achieve unity in the GOP — at any level — is biting off more than he/she can chew.

The big stumbling block, which they don’t seem to articulate publicly, is the sanctity of human life. Party base Republicans defend it. The official Republican platform recognizes it.

But pro-abortion Republicans will not honor the pro-life plank of the GOP platform. It’s as invisible to them as the Constitution is to Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and B. Hussein Obama.

Respect for life and a lack of respect for human life are diametrically opposed positions. They are completely irreconcilable.

Pro-life voters will never vote for abortion supporters. Abortion advocates do not vote for pro-life candidates.

In fact, it was abortion-advocate RINOs in Scottsdale who put Janet Napolitano in office as governor several years ago. They refused to vote for the conservative candidate, Matt Salmon. Napolitano over-performed in the Scottsdale legislative district more than any of the other 29 districts in Arizona.

It was around the time of that 2002 governor’s election between Salmon and Napolitano that I attended the monthly RINO meeting in Scottsdale. And it was scary. Leftist RINO state Senator Randall Gnant stood up and railed against Salmon. Now state Senator Michele Reagan was stumping for increased gambling in the state. The RINO chairwoman praised state Rep. Carolyn Allen — a self-described Planned Parenthood activist — as a “model” lawmaker.

I went home that night shaking my head, and I wrote a blog titled “Wasting Away again in RINOville: Searching for My Lost GOP.”

But the RINOs say we have to have a big tent! Well the pro-abortion Republicans would rather stand in the rain than stand with pro-life Republicans under the big tent.

So, good luck to all you Republican leaders thinking you’re going to bridge that rift over the issue of human life. But a word to the wise: if you do not stand for the sanctity of human life, all else is moot. As long as presidential candidates think they can do the soft-shoe shuffle away from the life issue — yes, you John McCain, Mitt Romney and Bob Dole — Republicans will not control the White House, will not control judicial nominations. You leaders must begin at the proper starting point, the GOP platform section on “The Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life”:

Faithful to the “self-evident” truths enshrined in the Declaration of ndependence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or fund organizations which perform or advocate it and will not fund or subsidize health care which includes abortion coverage. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life. We oppose the nonconsensual withholding or withdrawal of care or treatment, including food and water, from people with disabilities, including newborns, as well as the elderly and infirm, just as we oppose active and passive euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Republican leadership has led the effort to prohibit the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion and permitted States to extend health care coverage

to children before birth. We urge Congress to strengthen the Born Alive Infant Protection Act by enacting appropriate civil and criminal penalties on healthcare providers who fail to provide treatment and care to an infant who survives an abortion, including early induction delivery where the death of the infant is intended. We call for legislation to ban sex-selective abortions – gender discrimination in its most lethal form—and to protect from abortion unborn

children who are capable of feeling pain; and we applaud U.S. House Republicans for leading the effort to protect the lives of pain-capable unborn children in the District of Columbia. We call for a ban on the use of body parts from aborted fetuses for research.

We support and applaud adult stem cell research to develop lifesaving therapies, and we oppose the killing of embryos for their stem cells. We oppose federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. We also salute the many States that have passed laws for informed consent, mandatory waiting periods prior to an abortion, and health-protective clinic regulation. We seek to protect young girls from exploitation through a parental consent requirement; and we affirm our moral obligation to assist, rather than penalize, women challenged by an unplanned pregnancy. We salute those who provide them with counseling and adoption alternatives and empower them to choose life, and we take comfort in the tremendous increase in adoptions that has followed Republican legislative initiatives.

In conclusion, we need Republicans who will fight the Party of Control Freaks tooth and nail over important issues — starting with life and moving on from that crucial starting point.

Senator Ted Cruz Speech at CPAC

The Truth about Religious Freedom in Arizona

Dedicated to Channels 3, 5, 10, 12, NPR, CNN, and the Arizona Republic, East Valley Tribune, and Arizona Daily Star: Dumb, Uneducated, and Eager to Deceive

By Mollie Hemingway, The Federalist

In the aftermath of the abominable media coverage of Arizona’s religious liberty bill, an editor shared his hypothesis that journalists care about freedom of speech and of the press because they practice them. And journalists don’t care about freedom of religion because they don’t.

But one of the most interesting things about modern media’s deep hostility toward the religious, their religions, and religious liberty in general is that press freedom in America is rooted in religion.

The John Peter Zenger case of 1735, argued successfully by Andrew Hamilton, wasn’t just an important legal event but an important symbolic event in the development of American freedom of expression. We remember Hamilton’s now-famous plea that truth should be admitted as a defense.

But perhaps we don’t understand that the members of the jury ruled in favor of press freedom because of their belief in the foundational importance of religion and religious liberty. The Zenger press freedom case was a “disputation on truth and on how truth is revealed to man,” noted David Paul Nord in 2006′s “A History of American Newspapers and Their Readers.” This is another way of saying “religion.” In the Cato letters printed in Zenger’s New York Weekly Journal, it was argued that each individual had not just the right but the duty to seek truth in his own way. From the book (emphasis mine):

“Every man’s religion is his own,” Cato declared, “nor can the religion of any man, of what nature or figure soever, be the religion of another man, unless he also chooses it; which action utterly excludes all force, power or government.”

The media now call people who agree with this notion “bigots” or “Jim Crow” types. Sometimes they’re more nuanced and just write shockingly biased articles about religious liberty issues. (My favorite was the time a media outlet — Religion News Service, of all places — defiantly put scare quotes around “religious liberty” and then defended the obnoxious practice.)

Anyway, back when individual reason and conscience were the way to divine truth, the authority of human law could never be absolute. Nord wrote that Americans have been “strangely intolerant libertarians, often suppressing individual liberties in the name of a more transcendent freedom.” Or we used to be, at least. Now we hear from some of media’s biggest elites that transcendent freedoms are to be obliterated in favor of individual liberties, and that opposition to this notion is the real enemy. More on that in a bit.

The First Amendment begins with religious liberty because (and even our non-traditionally religious Founders agreed with this), all freedom of expression — speech, press, assembly, etc. — is rooted in the importance of man determining truth according to his own conscience.

So What’s That Have To Do With Our Modern Media?

Moving forward nearly 300 years, we have a press that loathes and works actively to suppress this religious liberty, as confident in being on the “right side of history” as they are ignorant of natural rights, history, religion and basic civility.

A broad religious liberty bill — renamed by a juvenile and nakedly activist press as “anti-gay” — gives us a good opportunity to see this dynamic in action.

Perhaps a framework for understanding the truth-avoiding goat rodeo the media participated in is in order. Here’s one provided by Jon Swerens, which he calls the “OOOOOPSI” model:

Opportunity: First, we need a hot-button event that is a proper catalyst for the cycle. Recent examples were supplied by Chick-fil-A, Hobby Lobby, Susan G. Komen, and now, Arizona’s proposed law. Outrage: Next, those on the opposite side of the culture wars make a lot of noise about “fairness” and “bigotry” and “tolerance.” Maybe they have a point, or maybe not, but it’s an important step in the news cycle. Opposition: Then, the national media by and large adopts the definitions brought to them by the outraged. For example, in this week’s Arizona story, the media labeled the bill “anti-gay,” without the scare quotes. Such labeling was a tremendous victory for the outraged. Oversimplification: As a part of its coverage, the media fails to add any nuance to the debate or closely examine the actual facts of what’s being argued, preferring to cover the horse race of two competing interests beating each other up. Overreach: At some point, a mainline media outlet gets too cocky and goes a step too far in its boosterism. Other media momentarily shrink back in embarrassment. Pendulum: Prompted by this misstep, a few media commentators rub their chins and publish thoughtful analysis pieces that ask if everyone is being a little too hard on the accused. The accused is still wrong, mind you, but we can be nicer about it. Silence: After this, coverage ceases as the nation’s attention runs elsewhere. Introspection: Finally, months later, on a Sunday news program, journalists will gather and ruminate about how they unfairly overstated one side of the debate. They pledge to do better next time.

Let’s agree to pretend that the media ever hit the Introspection stage and let’s also set aside the Opportunity and Outrage issues. Note the key point in “Opposition,” which is that the media adopt the labels of one side in a dispute. This couldn’t be more common, which explains why “religious liberty” gets scare quoted but “same-sex marriage” does not. In most cases, the media only scare quote those things they think are highly debatable or untrue. So even though religious liberty is fairly well ensconced in the Constitution and in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and what not, it gets scare quotes. “Abortion rights,” which opponents believe is an oxymoron since no one actually has the right to take the life of another, even if the Supreme Court of the United States say otherwise? Well, missy, that’s settled law. And if you’re confused about it, you can ask the Susan G. Komen Foundation what we in the media do to people who don’t toe the line. We destroy them… for fun. On this issue, we help our friends (Wendy Davis, Kermit Gosnell) and we destroy our enemies (War on Women, anyone?).

Or take marriage, which natural marriage supporters believe is a euphemism, more or less, for “penis+vagina=elaborate consequences.” So for them, “same-sex marriage” is an ontological impossibility, or at the very least an issue on which some thought should go into the consequences of redefining that equation. After the media malpractice on this issue, one wonders if we’ve been fully brainwashed away from even understanding this topic in any way. Basically, some people, known colloquially as “all people throughout all space and time in all religions and lands until 15 minutes ago,” believed that marriage was a nice way of saying “men and women are different and complementary and this is the way we organize their relationship in all its complexity, including all the norms and benefits and dangers that occur when a penis enters a vagina.” Marriage used to be the way we said that, more or less. And the penis and vagina parts are actually key to this entire shebang. See: human history. Or, if you are in any way confused about this, ponder how your own existence came about. Hint: penis and vagina. In any event, it’s easier to remove scare quotes, adopt the language, and hunt down and vilify all those who disagree.

For a particularly crafty look, here’s CNN redefining religious liberty not as “religious liberty” but as the “‘freedom’ to discriminate.” Brilliant. Even if, you know, terrifying and Orwellian. And I do mean Orwellian. Here he is on the matter:

At any given moment, there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas, which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that, or the other, but it is ‘not done’ to say it . . . [And] anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, whether in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals.

Particularly Egregious Idiocy

In this case, wholesale adoption of activist language is particularly egregious. What Arizona was considering was known as a RFRA bill. The original federal legislation was adopted after a bad Supreme Court ruling delivered by Antonin Scalia that limited religious freedom for Native Americans who smoke peyote as part of their religion. Congress realized this was a big problem and so they authored the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993, introduced by none other than Chuck Schumer. From Wikipedia:

The Smith decision outraged the public. Many groups came together. Both liberal (like the American Civil Liberties Union) and conservative groups (like the Traditional Values Coalition) as well as other groups such as the Christian Legal Society, the American Jewish Congress, and the National Association of Evangelicals joined forces to support RFRA, which would reinstate the Sherbert Test, overturning laws if they burden a religion.[8] The act, which was Congress’s reaction to the Lyng and Smith cases, passed the House unanimously and the Senate 97 to 3 and was signed into law by U.S. President Bill Clinton.

And for those who worry about government encroachment against religious liberty, the bill has turned out to be a godsend. Hundreds of Americans of various religions have used RFRA to have even an opportunity to fight back against government violations against religious liberty. States have also adopted RFRA legislation, to help navigate the difficult borders of religious liberty vs. government action.

Have you heard of the Little Sisters of the Poor? Their only chance in their fight against the government is RFRA.

And so Arizona was tweaking its own RFRA statutes to expand in a couple of areas. A group of 12 law professors, some of whom support same-sex marriage and some of whom weren’t even sure the legislation was a good idea, but all of whom are religious liberty experts, tried to speak into the media-induced blindness regarding this bill:

SB1062 would amend the Arizona RFRA to address two ambiguities that have been the subject of litigation under other RFRAs. It would provide that people are covered when state or local government requires them to violate their religion in the conduct of their business, and it would provide that people are covered when sued by a private citizen invoking state or local law to demand that they violate their religion.

Most RFRA cases don’t deal with the sudden clash between religious liberty and same-sex “rights,” but some do. And even though most Americans probably wish tolerance were a two-way street — where some people need to work to tolerate those attracted to members of the same sex while others need to tolerate those with different religious beliefs — I think current jurisprudence favors the sentiment expressed by Chai Feldblum, a legal scholar and gay-rights activist later appointed by President Obama to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:

“There can be a conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty, but in almost all cases the sexual liberty should win because that’s the only way that the dignity of gay people can be affirmed in any realistic manner.”

Outside of American newsrooms, Feldblum’s views aren’t universally shared. In fact, some find that in a choice between sacrificing religious liberty and expanding gay rights, they might go the other way. There are always conflicts with religious liberty — our first freedom. And they’re difficult to navigate. Religious liberty — and having the freedom to determine truth without government force — was what the Zenger trial was all about and no one is (yet) claiming that it was actually about bigots against gay rights. Of the hundreds of RFRA cases, I’d be surprised if more than a tiny handful had to do with gay anything, in fact. We do know that no reporter investigated how many RFRA cases involve gay issues. Is it greater than zero? I don’t think we know.

Either way, a broad religious liberty bill, one that in its national version was introduced by Chuck Schumer and signed by Bill Clinton after passing with overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress, becomes, in the high-brow parlance of the Associated Press and the Washington Post, “anti-gay.”

By this standard, all legislation could be anti-gay. How many gay people are harmed by restrictions on gun rights? Ergo, gun control is anti-gay. How many unborn gays are terminated via abortion? Pro-choice laws are anti-gay. How many taxes are levied on gay people? All taxes are anti-gay. It only makes sense to call religious liberty anti-gay if you think that the only people in America are that tiny fraction of gay people that might ever be involved in suits where RFRA is argued. And even if you took that position, RFRA still wouldn’t be “anti-gay” since, as that rag-tag group of religious liberty professors put it:

But nothing in the amendment would say who wins in either of these cases. The person invoking RFRA would still have to prove that he had a sincere religious belief and that state or local government was imposing a substantial burden on his exercise of that religious belief. And the government, or the person on the other side of the lawsuit, could still show that compliance with the law was necessary to serve a compelling government interest. As a business gets bigger and more impersonal, courts will be come more skeptical about claims of substantial burden on the owner’s exercise of religion. And as a business gets bigger, the government’s claim of compelling interest will become stronger.

Of course, we can safely assume that none of the reporters or editors who promulgated the “anti-gay” rhetoric had read the legislation, however brief it was (all of two pages). By way of example, see what the New York Times deceitfully wrote here with the quote above:

“The measure would have allowed business owner [sic] to refuse to serve gay people and others if doing so ran counter to their religious beliefs.”

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