Monday, March 30, 2015


When I saw the amount of fuss over the latest version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, I began to believe the new law included admissions that they were, indeed, beginning to set up the pyres for gays and other non-Christians in the state next door to mine. After all, nobody would make such a fuss over a legislative act simply structured to permit an individual or a private business to use deep and abiding faith as a legitimate courtroom defense for refusing to perform some professional service against his strong beliefs! That would be absurd and bigoted, right?

My bad.

Some of my own best friends are scrawling all over the social media in defense of the right of gays to bully Christians into making offerings at their temple of hedonism. That is their right. You can believe whatever you want about the law. You can even, as a private citizen, act upon your beliefs.

As a private citizen, you may at any time throw your own personal weight around, gather your friends together and threaten a boycott, or use all other forms of private persuasion to get businesses to do your bidding. But now the law of the land of Indiana matches that of the nation, in saying that you may not use the force of government to compel an individual or business to perform something which goes against its religious teachings. It states that deep and abiding faith is a fair defense, in court. It doesn't say that it's a good idea. It doesn't mandate the barring of gays or blacks or the out-of-shape from public parks or private parties, and doesn't reinstate laws against sodomy, miscegenation, or wearing a thong bikini at a public beach, even if many people would welcome the return of some form of discretion as applies to such lunar events. All it does is reiterate that the right you are born with – the right to defend yourself – is protected by law.

The gay community is far from endangered by the possibility that a few of the faithful own and operate businesses which will not grant them their every whim. Indeed, in this country, the gay community is so far from endangered they'd need the Hubble scope to spot any light of said threat. It should show up on NASA's monitors in a few aeons.

Yet in the most recent cases of Christians who were forced by the courts to participate in rites which were strongly against the teachings of their own faith – or, ultimately, go out of business – it has been made obvious there is a threat in the other direction. There is clear evidence that more than a few Christians have seen themselves targeted for not going along with the groupthink du jour. In the case of the baker who would not make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple's union, the baker believed the couple were her friends. She was not refusing to do any business with the couple – in fact, she offered several alternatives, and even suggested other bakers who might be eager for the business. But this couple had to make their point, that the Christian was depriving them of their right to force her to do their will.

The law says you have to give in to our demands, because yours is a service industry, and service means you're a servant, and servant means obey or be punished. Sadly, a court seems to have agreed. The bakery has been closed down as a result of the complaint and subsequent legal and financial tangles.

But this new Indiana law means you can ostracize me for being gay!

Well, no. The law, to quote Dickens, is a ass…but not that big a ass, this time.

The law had already said the government may not compel you to pay tithes or make other offerings to a church to which you don't belong, which may be argued as to apply to creative works and others' ceremonies and rites. An artist has also traditionally had great latitude in deciding where his works would end up. That seems to be changing, depending upon the politics of the parties involved.

Even so, this new Indiana law does not add to or subtract from that. This was, in its barest essence, reestablishing the right of persons of faith to a hearing, if some person or group tries to force the issue.

A hearing.

The right to be heard, and to attempt defend their actions (or inaction). 

Nothing more, nothing less.

While we're waiting for the enthusiastic repeal of the rights of Christians (and members of other faiths) to defend themselves, I'm sure we'll see a rash of Indiana businesses suddenly putting up signs in their windows with long lists of the kinds of people they will no longer serve, because that sort of thing is always good for business, isn't it? – especially in competitive times. Gays and nazis and atheists and agnostics and blacks and women should stock up on what they want, because any day now, we'll all be locked out of every store, every business, every service, because…Christians!!!!


No comments: