Will GOP defend religious liberty?

Maggie Gallagher_thb

by Maggie Gallagher

Will Any GOP Candidates Step Up to the Plate for Religious Liberty?

Mike Pence is the only Republican defending Indiana law

Something very important is happening right now in Indiana. Pay attention: The Democrats are attempting to use their power in the mainstream media to get Republicans to retreat and mute the GOP on religious liberty or face being labelled anti-gay.

Last year, the Left succeeded so well with this tactic on a similar RFRA bill in Arizona, they even got Mitt Romney and John McCain to denounce the bill.

How much of the fabric of classic American civilization will GOP politicians be willing to let go without a fight?  This tactic will not only be used on what the Left decides is a gay rights issue. Emboldened by their success in getting Republicans to retreat, the Democrats are now applying the same tactic to the Hyde Amendment language (see the human trafficking bill as the first of a series of attempts to get Republicans to retreat on opposition to taxpayer-financed abortion) and to scuttle the 20-week ban on abortion, which was supposed to have been voted on and passed by the Jan. 22 March for Life. Mere fear of being called “pro-rape,” an absurd charge, led Renee Ellmers and 7 other GOP women to demand a vote be postponed, apparently indefinitely.

Right now, Gov. Mike Pence is the only Republican politician defending this bill.  He is looking for a new law to clarify the bill’s intent, as Indiana faces a wave of hostility from powerful corporations that is sick to see, based as it is on a lie. The NCAA weighed in with “concern” about how it affects student athletes and employees. Angie’s List CEO is putting Indianapolis expansion plans on hold to punish the citizens of Indiana.

But on the core message, Pence is speaking truth to a gathering storm of powerful forces. Gov. Pence said, “This is not about legalizing discrimination, it is about restricting the government’s ability to intrude on the religious liberty of our citizens.”

I haven’t weighed in on this bill, in part because I don’t believe its supporters are right that it will help the little baker who doesn’t want to bake a gay wedding cake keep his or her family’s livelihood intact.  America’s most distinguished pro-religious liberty scholar, Prof. Doug Laycock, explains why he hopes it might, but doesn’t really think it will, because it hasn’t been interpreted that way in the other 19 states that have RFRAs.  Molly Hemingway of The Federalist explains the people it will help.

Meanwhile Pres. Obama and other Democrats must continue to be pushed to explain why they now oppose the same kind of bill they supported and voted for in the past.  What about religious liberty don’t they like any more?  Hillary Clinton, what happened to the “maximum feasible accommodation” of free expression of religion your husband and you supported?

But this is a seminal moment for GOP presidential candidates: Will they have the courage to speak truth to power and support protections for religious people from government punishment?  Or will they bow to the mainstream media narrative and commit the cardinal sin of declaring unilateral truce?

Speak now, Bush, Walker, Paul, Rubio, Carson, Huckabee, Jindal, etc., because the future of religious liberty in America will depend in part on whether there is at least one political party willing to defend it.

Courage is not optional.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to LinkedIn Post to Reddit

Posted by at 06:17 | Posted in 1st Amendment, 2016 Presidential Election, GOP, Religious Liberty | Tagged | 38 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Paul

    I’m an independent. I’ve voted for both parties. But when your guy gets on tv and squirms and spins when asked a simple question about if this law allows discrimination, he totally made clear what this was about. People aren’t stupid you know, the intent of this law is pretty transparent and it isn’t about protecting the rights of a reasonable religious person against the state. It’s about giving the nod to discriminate by evangelicals who think some of their fellow citizens are ‘abdominations’ and wish to treat them accordingly. What I don’t understand is why promoting bigotry and intolerance practiced by some Christians has now become a conservative position. Heck, you’ve become so right wing your candidates can’t even acknowledge evolution theory lest they offend the Christian evangelicals. You hype things up to an extreme calling Obama a Marxist, socialist, communist, Muslim, tyrant, antiChrist, Kenyan, and more…just tossing out extremists rhetoric without thought. You have completely lost the vote and respect of many independents like me and it is a shame because I’d really like to have the option of voting for two parties again.

  • Bob Clark

    Supposedly some 30 other states and the federal government itself has similar law already in place. These laws are meant to provide some flexibility in allowing folks to practice their religious beliefs. I am thinking mostly here about the recent case of the Oregon ma&pa bakery run out of business by the heavy hand of Oregon state government, simply because the bakery operators/owners weren’t enamored about pouring their artistic capabilities and skills into making a cake for a gay wedding couple. These are rather rare and special cases which should get less than government forcing folks off the proverbial road and into the ditch, ruining their lives in great measure. (by comparison, the gay couple could have gone to numerous other bakeries more than eager to serve all comers.)

    If these cases were to become mainstream in today’s world, then these laws might require a heavier government hand. But current Oregon law is too over bearing in its treatment of religious freedom.

    Also I would recommend taking account of the risk of a major back lash against law and governance over-riding religious minorities. This might be what is triggering the movement towards Sharia law in some quarters of the developed world. Allowing for flexibility in anti-discrimination governance for religious beliefs might steer us all from such harsh alternative regiment.

    • TheFrequentPoster

      The Indiana law goes much farther than the laws it’s been compared to. The article in The Federalist blatantly lied about the details. If this is what Oregon’s Republicans rally around, then they deserve every bad outcome.

      I happen to think the Oregon wedding cake case is a farce from both directions. If that’s all this was about, I’d laugh. But that’s not what the issue is about. Look, wingnuts, just give up on this. You’re going to lose anyway, and more importantly, it just doesn’t matter.

  • HBguy

    I agree with Paul. We know the reason why religious conservative Republicans are for this bill. It’s not to protect Native Americans right to use peyote. Don’t treat us like we’re stupid. Just admit that you’d like to test the legal issue of gay rights versus business owners’ right to not serve people of their choice based on how their religion judges them.
    At least that would be honest.

  • Dick Winningstad

    I would seem to be a question of association. Who do you want to associate with? The first Amendment covers this issue nicely: Government sall make no law… or prohibiting the free exercise thereof [religion];…. And given the State government is not requiring no sales to the gay community, gays should be free to go to a busines that wants therir business.

    • TheFrequentPoster

      This is an argument against all equal accommodations laws. Do you really want to repeal the Civil Rights Act? This should be the position of the Oregon Republicans? If that’s the answer, all I can say is “good luck.”

      • Dick Winningstad

        Racism is not protected by the 1st Amendment. So no, I do not want to repeal the Civil Rights Act. Your argument is a false equivalency.

        • TheFrequentPoster

          Do you even know what the Civil Right Act does?

          • Dick Winningstad

            Yes. It was enacted to reverse the laws enacted by States mandating separate but equal services for the races that the Plessy decision made legal and which was overturned by Brown in 1954.

          • TheFrequentPoster

            The Civil Rights of 1964 covered race, color, religion, and national origin in access to government facilities, voting, and the provision of public accommodations including those provided by private entities engaged in interstate commerce. It also covered discrimination in employment on grounds of race, color, religion, national origin, and sex.

            In 1968, housing was added to the list where discrimination was banned. In 1990, the Americans With Disabilities Act gave broad rights to disabled people. On one of my trips to Europe, I met a dwarf in Germany who told me that handicapped people all over the world look to the United States as the gold standard for accommodations to the disabled.

            Since the 1960s, virtually every state passed civil rights legislation. Gays began being included in the late 1970s, starting with Wisconsin. There’s a long history of civil rights laws in this country. If the Oregon Republican Party decides it’ll stand for turning back the clock, I doubt they’ll even win Harney County.

          • Dick Winningstad

            And you are for repealing the 1st Amendment then?
            Your list above says the Civil Rights act covers religion in its guarantees of protection. Nowhere does the list you provided call for going against one’s religion. And there are no state laws calling for no commerce with gays. What does disabilities, housing, color, and national origin have to do with this discussion? Forcing people to go against their religion is un-American. Especially when there are lots of alternatives available.

          • HBguy

            Dick W. Every federal court, and this year most likely the USSC disagrees with your constitutional analysis.
            What is happening in Indiana this week shows that the tide hasn’t just turned on equal treatment based on sexual orientation, it’s a rip tide and those who try to swim against it will be swept out to sea.
            A majority of Society and the courts have decided.

          • Dick Winningstad

            HB, Religion is weakened in today’s modern liberal society, however it is still wrong to force behavior against one’s beliefs. Are the religious actively persuing gays? No They are deciding to not participate. Is the State mandating that gays be discriminated against? No. Has the court system been wrong before? Yes on numeropus occassions. Please read the Constitution sometime.

          • HBguy

            The constitution requires equal protection under the law. The law requires equal protection as to public accommodations. Businesses are considered public accommodations. A religious person who is offended by gays doesn’t have to have gay friends, or go to gay weddings, or have them over for BBQs. But if one is to operate a public accommodation, then equal protection applies.
            We know this analysis applies to race. And I am assuming you don’t contest that. We know this analysis doesn’t apply to beliefs. So for instance those examples regarding making a swastika cake for a wedding are not relevant. Nazism is a belief, not immutable like race.
            Society seems to have accepted the understanding that sexual identity is not a belief or a choice, it’s immutable. Once that was accepted, it was inevitable that LBGT citizens would soon enjoy all the rights of heterosexuals in their lives. Including the right to equal protection under the law and to access and be served at an public accommodation.

          • TheFrequentPoster

            There are two competing ideas here: freedom vs. comfort, i.e. the freedom of a business to reject a customer vs. the comfort of any particular customer knowing that he can’t be rejected on the basis of the factors listed in civil rights law.

            The basic question was decided in the 1960s. As a country, we chose comfort over freedom in a particular range of activities (public accommodations and employment), for a particular list of conditions, traits, and behaviors.

            The issue now is whether or not sexual orientation and gender status should be part of that list. And if so, whether or not we’ll allow a business to sidestep the entire deal by invoking a religious exemption. You know, like the Soutrhern Baptists did in 1845 when the split with the rest of the Baptists over the issue of Biblical support for slavery.

            I recognize the loss of freedom here. I don’t treat it lightly. I still support the 1960s-era choice, and see no reason why it shouldn’t apply to homosexuals and transsexuals — small and even tiny populations who seek to be treated as anyone else is treated.

            The law doesn’t require you to like them or agree with them. All it requires is that, if you’re a business, you must transact with them as you’d transact with anyone else. If the Oregon Republicans want to try to oppose that, well, for starters they’ll lose the fight. And it’ll be horrible politics that’ll insure they’ll not elect a statewide candidate for, oh, maybe another 20 years, or maybe 50 years, or maybe never.

            I’m not hitched to the Rs, but I do think it’s much better for the state to have two functioning and viable parties. As compromises go, I think compliance with the civil rights laws is a whole lot less onerous than some others I can think of.

        • Eric Blair

          Actually, racism is protected by the First Amendment. I have a legal right to make racist statements. And, people are allowed to form and join avowed racist organizations. What they are not allowed to do, and what we are talking about here Dick, is discriminate in public accommodations.

          Perhaps you need to study the constitution.

          • Dick Winningstad

            I have read the Constitution. And the First Amendment is pretty plain in its directios toward religion and law/government which trumps any interpretation of legislative law.

          • HBguy

            What if practicing your religion (not your belief, but your practice of your belief) interferes with my constitutional rights of equal protection?

          • Dick Winningstad

            HB, Your framing of the question seems to call for a preordained answer. So it does not count. I would point out, again, the 1st Amendment trumps legislated law.

          • Eric Blair

            If you had read the constitution then why did you say that racism isn’t protected by the First Amendment?

            So, if my Christian religion preaches non-whites have no souls, do I get to refuse service in public accommodations to blacks, hispanics, asians, etc…?

          • Dick Winningstad

            Eric, Your question is not logical. Racism is not protected. Speech is as you pointed out earlier.

          • Eric Blair

            LOL.. Dick.. yes, racism is protected in the form of speech and association. Your answer is not logical. Acts are not necessarily protected, but speech is. You’re avoiding the issue.

            I could, if I were a racist, refuse to allow people of color into my house. Yes? That is protected. However, I couldn’t refuse them service in my restaurant.

            You evaded the question about racist Christian beliefs and public accommodations.

          • Dick Winningstad

            Eric, Racisist acts are not protected. Speech is.

          • Senor Commences

            Bueno!

          • Eric Blair

            Which is exactly what I said, and in direct contradiction to your initial statement that racism is not protected by the First Amendment. Catch up my friend.

            So… direct actions, such as the refusal of service, can be deemed to be illegal. Even if the motivation is religious belief. Now tell me why people should be allowed to discriminate against gays based upon their religious beliefs? We don’t allow that when their religious beliefs cause them to commit racist acts.

          • Dick Winningstad

            Racism is not protected Eric. Only speech about it is protected. It is currently illegal to hang people for their race for instance. Religion is differnet than racism and religion is protected by the first aamendment. “Congree shall make no law….” Why not check your own statements?

          • Eric Blair

            Because you’re dancing on the dancing on the head of a pin, and not very well. Or, you simply don’t understand the term racism.

            Racism is particular way of thinking about other races… and it can be expressed in words and in actions… advocating by speech that blacks are inferior is racist speech that is protected by the Constitution – this the First Amendment does protect racism, or at least some forms of racism. Racist actions, such as physical intimidation is not protected. So yes, Dick, racism is protected under the First Amendment as long as it isn’t any illegal act.

            Refusing services of a bakery to someone who is black is illegal… same thing with refusing services to someone who is gay. It’s based on act, not the belief.

            By the way, it is very possible, although thankfully not as common anymore, to meld your racism with your Christianity. Although the don’t have to be the same thing, sometimes they are.

          • Dick Winningstad

            Dancing around the 1st Amendment is not helping your argument. Religion and racism are two difffernet things. Racist acts are illegal. Religion is protected by the 1st Amendment.

          • Eric Blair

            LOL.. I give up. If you don’t get it, you don’t get it.

          • Dick Winningstad

            Oh. I get what you are saying. I just don’t agree. I will go with the Constitution not down your road.

        • maggie galalgher

          The First Amendment protects even racists. Nazis and other vile people.

  • Jack Lord God

    At some point it would be nice if everyone would realize it might be a good idea to actually think before passing laws.

    Do I support a business refusing to serve gay patrons? No, and I really don’t care what you religion is. But think about where that goes.

    Does a kitchen store that sells wineglasses have the right to say we wont sell them to you for a gay wedding? Seems pretty unreasonable, they really aren’t taking part and they didn’t make the glasses, they just resell them..

    What about a baker? We all know the story, the baker in Portland felt actually making a cake was taking part. The couple lost. Sound reasonable? You sure?

    Then there was the wedding photographer – ok, so now he actually goes to the wedding ceremony. Taking part? Yes? No? He should be compelled to do the photography? You sure on that?

    Good, because I can promise you, very soon Westboro Baptist will figure out they can make a lot of money suing gay photographers who refuse work. Lous Farrakahn will figure out he can bankrupt Jewish photographers who refuse to do his portrait.

    Think maybe we need to think about things a little bit more?

  • Dolph

    I wanted a cake to celebrate my heritage and I wanted the baker to put a large, black swastika on it. He refused. What an idiot. I am entitled to whatever I want on the cake. Also, I wanted an AK-47 on it and a hand lettered version of the first few lines of Mein Kampf. So what’s the problem? I will get my revenge on this brute for refusing to do what I asked…he is a public establishment and can not refuse to do my cake my way.
    Sorry.

    • HBguy

      Beliefs aren’t immutable so not protected under the public accommodations laws. This argument – or it’s variation – is never made in court by a lawyer. Because it doesn’t pass the straight faced test.

    • TheFrequentPoster

      If you sold hate cakes as a business, who knows, maybe you’d have to sell a swastika cake. Or maybe not. But that isn’t the issue here.

  • Robert Collins

    I think if you are in business to accomodate the public, you accomodate the public. If you are a baker with religious objections to gay marriage, then your option is to not make wedding cakes, period. If you make wedding cakes for some, but not for all, then that is discrimination.

    And I don’t really buy the religions objection anyway. Christ said to love one another as yourself. He didn’t qualify that. If you believe in the biblical prohibition against homosexuality then don’t commit homosexual acts. But go ahead and bake the cake for Pete’s sake. The bible doesn’t say you shouldn’t bake a cake for a homosexual.

    • Eric Blair

      That, and their religious concern seems to be only about one particular sin. I wonder how it would play out if the bakery refused to make cakes for Buddhists… after all, they believe in a “false” religion.

      • guest

        Ding bong, the EB is staid!

Stay Tuned...

Stay up to date with the latest political news and commentary from Oregon Catalyst through daily email updates:

Prefer another subscription option? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, become a fan on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Twitter Facebook

No Thanks (close this box)