When Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Apple CEO Tim Cook, who is openly homosexual, scolded him on morality; threats to leave the state poured in from Indiana-based businesses Ely Lily, NASCAR, General Electric and Salesforce. Not to be outdone, the NCAA threatened to pull its lucrative college basketball tournaments from the state. Sensing a mutiny over the issue, Pence was forced to insert new language into the law, essentially gutting its protections for religious freedom and turning it into an LGBT rights law.
From the IndyStar.com after signing:
The nation’s latest legislative battle over religious freedom and gay rights came to a close Thursday when Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a controversial “religious freedom” bill into law.
His action followed two days of intense pressure from opponents — including technology company executives and convention organizers — who fear the measure could allow discrimination, particularly against gays and lesbians.
Pence and leaders of the Republican-controlled General Assembly called those concerns a “misunderstanding.”
“This bill is not about discrimination,” Pence said, “and if I thought it legalized discrimination I would have vetoed it.”
Senate Bill 101 prohibits state or local governments from substantially burdening a person’s ability to exercise their religion — unless the government can show that it has a compelling interest and that the action is the least-restrictive means of achieving it. It takes effect July 1.
Although the bill does not mention sexual orientation, opponents fear it could allow business owners to deny services to gays and lesbians for religious reasons.
Pence signed the bill during a private ceremony in his Statehouse office just before 10 a.m. Thursday. He was joined by supportive lawmakers, Franciscan monks and nuns, orthodox Jews, and some of the state’s most powerful lobbyists on conservative social issues.
The event was closed to the public and the press.
— Governor Mike Pence (@GovPenceIN) March 26, 2015
The bill signing makes Indiana the 20th state in the nation to adopt such legislation. It is modeled on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which President Bill Clinton signed in 1993.
But the timing of the measure has colored the debate in Indiana.
Social conservatives have pushed hard for such measures across the country following recent federal court rulings that legalized same-sex marriage in Indiana and other states.
Many in Indiana also see the legislation as a reaction to last year’s unsuccessful push to enshrine a same-sex marriage ban in the state’s constitution.
Three of the lobbyists who pushed hardest for last year’s gay marriage ban — Micah Clark of the American Family Association of Indiana, Curt Smith of the Indiana Family Institute and Eric Miller of Advance America — were among the 70 to 80 guests invited to the private bill signing.
“It is vitally important to protect religious freedom in Indiana,” Miller said in a statement after the bill signing. “It was therefore important to pass Senate Bill 101 in 2015 in order to help protect churches, Christian businesses and individuals from those who want to punish them because of their Biblical beliefs!”
Socially conservative advocacy groups were joined by the Catholic Church, Indiana Right to Life, and many evangelical Christians in supporting the measure.
But Pence rejected suggestions that SB 101 was a consolation prize for conservative advocacy groups who failed to pass the gay marriage ban last year.
“I think that is inaccurate,” he said. “This was overdue.”
Mary Eberstadt, “one of the most acute and creative social observers of our time,” (Francis Fukuyama) shines a much-needed spotlight on a disturbing trend in American society: discrimination against traditional religious belief and believers, who are being aggressively pushed out of public life by the concerted efforts of militant secularists.
In It’s Dangerous to Believe, Mary Eberstadt documents how people of faith—especially Christians who adhere to traditional religious beliefs—face widespread discrimination in today’s increasingly secular society. Eberstadt details how recent laws, court decisions, and intimidation on campuses and elsewhere threaten believers who fear losing their jobs, their communities, and their basic freedoms solely because of their convictions. They fear that their religious universities and colleges will capitulate to aggressive secularist demands. They fear that they and their families will be ostracized or will have to lose their religion because of mounting social and financial penalties for believing. They fear they won’t be able to maintain charitable operations that help the sick and feed the hungry. Is this what we want for our country?
Religious freedom is a fundamental right, enshrined in the First Amendment. With It’s Dangerous to Believe Eberstadt calls attention to this growing bigotry and seeks to open the minds of secular liberals whose otherwise good intentions are transforming them into modern inquisitors. Not until these progressives live up to their own standards of tolerance and diversity, she reminds us, can we build the inclusive society America was meant to be.
Throughout American history, legal battles concerning the First Amendment’s protection of religious liberty have been among the most contentious issue of the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution. Religious Liberty and the American Supreme Court: The Essential Cases and Documents represents the most authoritative and up-to-date overview of the landmark cases that have defined religious freedom in America. Noted religious liberty expert Vincent Philip Munoz (Notre Dame) provides carefully edited excerpts from over fifty of the most important Supreme Court religious liberty cases. In addition, Munoz’s substantive introduction offers an overview on the constitutional history of religious liberty in America. Introductory headnotes to each case provides the constitutional and historical context. Religious Liberty and the American Supreme Court is an indispensable resource for anyone interested matters of religious freedom from the Republic’s earliest days to current debates.
Early American advocates of freedom did not believe in religious liberty in spite of their Christianity, but explicitly because of their individual faith in Christ, which had been molded and instructed by the Bible. The greatest evidence of their commitment to liberty can be found in their willingness to support the cause of freedom for those different from themselves.
The assertion that the Enlightenment is responsible for the American Bill of Rights may be common, but it is devoid of any meaningful connection to the actual historical account. History reveals a different story, intricately gathered from the following:
- Influence of William Tyndale’s translation work and the court intrigues of Henry VIII
- Spread of the Reformation through the eyes of Martin Luther, John Knox, and John Calvin
- The fight to establish a bill of rights that would guarantee every American citizen the free exercise of their religion.
James Madison played a key role in the founding of America and in the establishment of religious liberty. But the true heroes of our story are the common people whom Tyndale inspired and Madison marshaled for political victory. These individuals read the Word of God for themselves and truly understood both the liberty of the soul and the liberty of the mind.
The History of Religious Liberty is a sweeping literary work that passionately traces the epic history of religious liberty across three centuries, from the turbulent days of medieval Europe to colonial America and the birth pangs of a new nation.