William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act & The End Of Democracy

Many people sincerely believe Indiana’s RFRA new law will allow private individuals to “discriminate” against those who suffer from same-sex attraction. This shows two things: that propaganda works, and that political systems which rely on the wisdom of the public are doomed to failure.

Man with same-sex attraction walks into an Indianapolis patisserie and orders an organic orange-oil infused scone. The owner, a faithful Christian, asks, “You some kind of person who enjoys sodomy?” Man answers, “Why, yes, I am.” Owner says, “Then I can’t give you the scone. You can have one of these rosemary water crackers if you like.”

You may well think this a horror almost unimaginable, something unfit even for the Middle Ages, but I assure you, dear reader, many worse scenarios are playing out in the minds of demagogues and their victims. The most prominent propaganda has the SSA being hounded from Indiana by non-smartphone-owning used-car-driving Walmart-shopping Jack-Chick-tract-passing honky tonkers, many of whom have never even watched a single episode of the Daily Show.

Apple’s Tim Cook himself, a man who publicly admits enjoying organic orange-oil infused scones, has called the law “dangerous”. He says, “Apple is open. Open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love.” Presumably, grown men who love prepubescent boys will be submitting their applications to Cupertino. Never mind. Cook says Apple “will never tolerate discrimination.”

Except in China, the country in which many of Cook’s products are made and sold. China takes a more traditional view not only of who may marry whom, but of many sexual practices. The word “perversion” is still in use there. If Cook is seriously serious about not tolerating “discrimination”, look for Apple to bring their manufacturing back to these once United States. (Has to be here: he won’t find much abetting of same-sex attraction in any low-wage Asian country. Say, just why does Apple want to pay people so little? Skip it.)

Chances are, of course, that Cook is lying. Cook will take no action which even possibly might lighten his wallet. He’s merely an elite signaling to other elites his secular holiness (HT NBS).

Public displays like Cook’s are very popular, and even enjoyed by our betters. It’s not a stretch to say these culture warriors—they are armed mainly with screech bombs—look forward for these little opportunities to exhibit their superior enlightenment.

Is there any use trying to get this right? Probably not, though let’s have a go.

Two men walk into the Jesus Is Lord Photography Studio and say, “We want you to film our wedding and reception, at which will be live demonstrations of our physical love.” Owner says, “I’m sorry, but I’d rather not.” Men say, “Owning a business is a government-granted privilege and not a right. If you don’t do this, we’ll sue and force you into penury, where bigots like you belong.”

The pastry chef would have to sell the scone under Indiana’s law, but the photographer would be able to spare his eyes from the decadence to come. Selling a cookie, making a loan, renting an apartment and other similar activities which cannot be construed as participating in or encouraging Biblically forbidden sexual deviance are untouched by the new law. All the bill does is allow people with sincere (traditional, ancient) religious beliefs to excuse themselves from partaking in and contributing to cultural decadence.

Isn’t that a good compromise?

Of course it isn’t. Those who would celebrate or take “pride” in same sex attraction cannot countenance disagreement. They insist everybody believe as they do, or at least admit to believing alike. Silence is unacceptable: only full-throated support will do.

It is a peculiarity of Democracy that right and wrong are matters of vote. When the bulk of a population (and not only a mere majority) shares a more-or-less similar view of morality, and that morality lines up roughly with the Truth, then a Democracy can steer society in reasonable directions.

But when that society is split, as ours is, or when the shared morality is not aligned with Truth, as ours almost isn’t, then a Democracy must come to grief. As we will.

Don’t take it too badly, though. No Democracy has ever lasted, and all end badly. It’s as well to expect it, however, so that the shock will not be as great.

Update You have to feel for Progressives. Some of their favorite people are lined up squarely against them.

Update Christian Bakers Who Refused to Make Cake for Lesbian Wedding Found Guilty of Discrimination; Will Have to Pay Up to $150K. Uh huh. One hundred and fifty thousand. A sure and certain indication of a culture that has gone insane.

Update More on Elite Signaling: We’re “disappointed” in Indiana for passing RFRA, says…NASCAR.

43 Comments

  1. To lay on the hypocrisy, the left generally believes it’s just fine and dandy to control womens’ bodies!

    If that woman is a Christian, and she doesn’t want to bake or photograph things for someone, the left is more than happy to tell her that she must use her body (there is no other way) to do so. This is all, of course, without her consent, and under the threat of severe economic penalties.

  2. Please tell me this was accidental:

    … only full-throated support will do

  3. John B(),

    You noticed, too? Must be deep.

  4. If running a business is a privilege, then government is justified in imposing special burdens on businesses. And, governments have indeed put enormous numbers of taxes and regulations on businesses. This attitude seems to go along with the idea that for-profit business is somehow morally suspect. Government is better. Non-profit is better. Even doing nothing is better.

    I think this is exactly backwards. Most of the quality of life we enjoy — food, shelter, clothing, etc. — comes from businesses. In particular, cakes for gay weddings come from businesses. Without bakeries, we wouldn’t be able to buy wedding cakes. Rather than demean businesses, we should honor them.

  5. DAV

    While I thought about Linda Lovelace…and you kind of completed that thought…

    Hers was a tragic story recounted in her 1980 book “ORDEAL”
    and 1986 “OUT OF BONDAGE”

    http://www.biography.com/people/linda-lovelace-262763#personal-life

  6. What happens when some supremacist demands a wedding cake embellished with hooded figurines and a burning cross from a holy secularist establishment and wants the ceremony conducted by a justice of the peace (heh) at the local courthouse?

    What’s lost in the furor (obfuscated, actually) is that the law rightly makes a distinction between being and behavior. You can’t discriminate on a person’s physical characteristics, but you can refuse to endorse his activities. A fine point, but crucial.

  7. The basic problem is that the whole question is upside-down!

    The CONSUMER should be the one “DISCRIMINATING”.

    If it were MY SSA CELEBRATION, I would be asking the question and expecting an honest answer. “Would you’re heart and soul be in this project?”

    IF NOT, I don’t want YOU to be a part of it.

    Of course that just works for those goods and services where attitude MIGHT affect the outcome.

  8. The federal courts have held that the 13th (antislavery) amendment prohibits all forced labor. So how can the state compel a Christian to bake a cake for a homosexual?

  9. Freedom of association means freedom to associate *or not* associate with anyone, for any reason. We might not like it, and choose not to associate with people who don’t serve certain groups. Even when it might be *morally* wrong for someone to decide not to serve “climate deniers” in their restaurant, it’s shouldn’t be *legally* wrong.

    In a free society, operating a business isn’t a privilege. Any human interaction where we barter one thing for another is engaging in *business*.

    The Jim Crow laws had to be passed by a government with *legal force* for a reason – people weren’t voluntarily engaging in discrimination that harmed their business.

  10. John B(),

    You’re sure I wan’t thinking about Watergate?

    Nate,

    From what I understand, the Indiana bill underlines the right to not be forced to participate in or actively support something one considers morally wrong by allowing that consideration to be used as a legal defense. It’s a law which should have been unnecessary. In some states, the consideration cannot be used as a defense.

    Speaking of hypocrites, I hear the Connecticut governor has banned CT government business travel to Indiana even though CT has a similar law.
    http://thefederalist.com/2015/03/30/connecticuts-governor-doesnt-understand-his-own-states-rfra/

  11. DAV

    Just so you are aware.

    “PEOPLE WHO KNOW THE TRUTH” say that you’re wrong.
    Indiana supposedly includes language that others do not (that language of course IS about what BRIGGS has written about).

    Most states do NOT include “for-profit” businesses in their language.

    See the comments to the WP article:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/03/27/19-states-that-have-religious-freedom-laws-like-indianas-that-no-one-is-boycotting/?postshare=2631427681186733

    See also (where I think they’re comparing Indiana’s Governor Pence to Maurice Bessinger) :

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/03/what-makes-indianas-religious-freedom-law-different/388997/

    And Yes, DAV, I thought of Joanna Woodward and Leonard Bernstein

  12. “The pastry chef would have to sell the scone under Indiana’s law, but the photographer would be able to spare his eyes from the decadence to come. Selling a …”

    It is badly misunderstanding the Indiana law to believe that it does not allow discrimination. That law if not repel by Indiana congress will be repealed by Scotus in a few years. The federal RFRA is to protect people from the abuse of the state. The Indiana law promised the liberty to discriminate for religious grounds something that is not seen anywhere else. This is the reason why the reaction to this law id so vehement.

    Even Forbes which is hardly a lefty magazine find the law to go to far:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2015/03/30/understanding-why-indianas-rfra-clears-the-way-to-discriminating-against-lgbt-americans/2/

    As for the pastry, florist, and photographer. The photographer is already protected by the Bill of Rights as long as the they bring things at the individual level, not at the company. The pastry and florist cannot refuse services since as a place of business they have obligation to recognize the value of money from anyone as long as it doesn’t imply a criminal or illegal act.

    Even a black owner could not refuse to sell a cake to a KKK member as long as the shape of the cake is usual. He could refuse to make a chocolate cake in the form of a man hanging from a tree. The owner could also refuse to write heinous messages.

  13. Dav,

    The Federalist article is talking about the usual RFRA law which Indiana RFRA is not.

  14. DAV

    Like I said : People who know the TRUTH

    Sylvain : “…but the photographer would be able to spare his eyes from the decadence”

    I will NOT have a photographer shooting my SSA event with his eyes closed. I would HAVE to discriminate.

    (I would probably have issues having my reception and hotel at Basil Fawlty’s)

  15. JB(),

    According to the Indy Star, these are the differences between the Indiana statute and Federal:

    http://www.indystar.com/story/news/politics/2015/03/31/indianas-rfra-similar-federal-rfra/70729888/

    I’m not sure what you think is different than what I’ve said. Yes, it does include “for-profit” businesses as entities (but not just any — it’s rather specific: think Hobby Lobby) are covered. But so what? For one, I didn’t mentioned them.

    The WP street cred is rapidly decaying with me. They want to ride on their Watergate success. Shame that it’s peak is so far in the past. It will soon join the NY Times in the garbage pit. They really didn’t say why covering businesses that are substantially sole proprieties is so bad. Effectively, the Indiana statute extends the owner’s freedom of religion to his business.

  16. Sylvain : “…the cake is usual. He could refuse to make a chocolate cake in the form of a man hanging from a tree. The owner could also refuse to write heinous messages…”

    Oh? Who defines usual?
    Just how usual is having two grooms on a cake?

    Wha…? You want me to write what?
    “God bless the union of Scott and Roger and Rick?

  17. Sylvain,

    Your point?

  18. John b,

    Usual form are square, rectangle, circle, logs.

    The figure at the top of the cake an be bought anywhere

    I looked at hundreds of picture of wedding cake and never saw any writings on it

  19. Dav,

    My point is that your link is useless in this case

  20. Sylvain,
    My point is that your link is useless in this case

    Wrong as always. The Indiana bill only differs in two places (or three depending on how you count — with you it’s not obvious but let’s say three). It includes specific language used by the courts in the Hobby Lobby case; it includes the word “likely” which really how the federal version is interpreted; and the government isn’t prevented from intervening even when it wasn’t the original party. Otherwise, it is identical to the federal version.

    These differences don’t change the chart at The Federalist one bit. You need to vet your talking points from BrainsAintUs.com more than a little better.

  21. Dav,

    The Hobby Lobby case was between the government forcing a company what they didn’t want to do.

    The Indiana law push things a lot farther than that, they push to relation between citizens favouring religions.

    So the two problem are entirely different. Anyhow as I have mentioned before this law will be trucked down by the court when it will be brought up. Which will be soon enough.

  22. So the two problem are entirely different.

    No they aren’t. You just don’t like it that in Indiana a sole proprietor doesn’t have to yield his religious freedom simply because trying make a living. The same situation holds in the other 19 RFRA states but it’s just not so explicitly stated. Times change, Suck it up. You lose.

  23. To be clear, Sylvain:

    You *do not* believe that individuals are free to associate with whom they want, and perform services or provide goods to others based on additional criteria besides “i provide x and you want x”?

    If an individual wishes to perform a service or provide goods to another individual, in exchange for another service or goods, your belief is that the provider should be required by law to provide this service, so long as that service “is the ‘usual’ service provided” (your point about the cake baking for the KKK). The provider is free to discriminate against someone based on the fact that they are already providing that service on that day for someone else, or they are busy that day, but not on anything else. Unless the service or good is “unusual” but the definition of unusual is vague.

    An example.

    A female doctor owns a woman’s medical clinic (a *company*), which often terminates early pregnancies. A woman arrives at the clinic and demands to terminate her 4 month pregnancy. The doctor refuses as it would violate her strongly held belief that termination should only occur up to 3 months into the pregnancy, or a for a strong medical reason. Does the woman have the right to force the doctor to perform this service, given that the “usual” service for abortion is up until birth? I believe your answer here would be “yes, the doctor must provide this service”.

  24. What about the business owner’s right not to actually work should they so choose?
    Or say for example, I, a devout worshipper of Bacchus want to go and get drunk to the point of alcohol poisoning.
    However the bartender decides after 8 pints he no longer wishes to serve me and is interfering with my right to practice my religion in the manner I see fit! (even though it’s likely to save him from clearing up projectile vomit….)

    No matter the bartender is probably following the law (certainly in the UK where the landlord is not permitted to serve a drunken customer (2003 Licensing Act) I would assume there to be local ordinances similar in the US.

    Would this be covered by the bill?

  25. Nate,

    Yes, if you have a place of business that bakes cakes you can’t discriminate based on religion, sex, political and sexual orientation.

    A baker, on the other hand, could refuse to bake a cake in the shape of a penis or breast, unless they are part of there usual product. He could reject to inscribe a message that he does not agree with, but he has to bake the cake.

    In the USA abortion are done in clinics where doctor agree to do them. The abortion done at the hospital are the ectopic ones and those that are done to save the life of the mother. In that these cases a doctor is forced to do the abortion. They can always switch cases with another doctor if they object.

  26. Looking more closely at the specific legislation it does appear to be sufficiently to vague to allow a business to discriminate based on religious grounds. (Something that would have to be tested in a court.) There are several questions here. The supporters of the bill denied this was the case, which seems to be untrue.

    The crux of the question, however, seems to be this: should discrimination be allowed based on some generally recognised sense of moral superiority? And if so, is this reasonable? Are there any scriptural or other authoritative writings within the church that preclude business dealings with sinners?

    If the answer is ‘yes’ I’m sympathetic to the position held. (At least it’s logically consistent.) If the answer is ‘no’ then not so much. Are you refusing a homosexual service because you have a popular aversion to homosexual activity or because of your religious convictions? If your discriminatory act was performed in good faith can you demonstrate that you are also denying service to divorced people, heretics, non believers, etc., in a consistent manner?

    Are you refusing to photograph people who are remarrying? Or people who are not followers of your faith?

    If your discrimination is not general, I’m going to be skeptical your grounds for discrimination are actually religious.

  27. The first test is to demonstrate a substantial burden on a sincere belief. It has to be demonstrated in court. Skepticism/Belief outside of court is irrelevant.

  28. How does one define a sincere belief? You could sincerely believe black people are inferior to whites. If you don’t have an objective test, you don’t have a rule.

  29. How does one define a sincere belief?

    Surely you mean how does one demonstrate one? It’s not easily done. One path would be to show it is part of an already established religion and you are a member of the same. Other than that, ask a lawyer or even better, ask the judge who will be making the determination. One thing is clear, if it’s just an ad hoc claim it will likely fail.

  30. Sylvian, Why stop at race, sex, what party one supports, and where one likes to put their privates? What makes those things so special that we can use the power of force to put a gun to the head of the service provider, and make them provide the service? So a white baker could say that a black cake with NAACP inscribed on it was against his beliefs?? Your logic is dizzying.

  31. “What happens when some supremacist demands a wedding cake embellished with hooded figurines and a burning cross from a holy secularist establishment and wants the ceremony conducted by a justice of the peace (heh) at the local courthouse?”

    It’s been done.

  32. Joseph,

    I’m not sure that they have ask for figurine and burning cross, because to deny that part would have seen reasonable. From your link it seems more like a regular. Which in such cases I would agree with the decision

  33. From the certitude expressed, Sylvain is just a slightly english-challangrd JMJ. The other similarity is the pointlessness.

  34. This case of “Christian” business owners refusing service to any one seems dodgy. Of course all men and women should follow their conscience, but specifically those who call Jesus “Lord” have to admit their Lord is “A friend to sinners.” It seems Jesus met with nearly every strata of person in his society, but went out of his way to have meals and hang with those looked down upon by jewish society. These were The tax collectors (working with the Romans) partiers, adulterers, prostitutes, the ill, infirm, drunkards. He ministered to all who would accept Him and refused no one.
    Now perhaps some “religious” christians do not want to have dealings with anyone they look down upon. Never-the-less the purpose of ministry is to minister to those who need it from the perspective of their need know that God loves them and that their sinfulness is separating them from knowing God and experiencing His peace.
    Now running a Bakery, or Photography studio may not seem like a ministry to secularists, but to devout christians it is. New Testament scripture teaches christians to not judge those who do not confess Jesus to be their Lord (who don’t claim to be christian). Actually scripture does tell christians to avoid familiar contact with any one who professes christian beliefs but who does not walk accordingly.
    A person who seeks to walk like Christ welcomes an opportunity to be a witness of God’s love, grace, mercy and to tell them of God’s provision for salvation from man’s devastating self destructive desires.
    A bit of background is in order for those unfamiliar with basic Christian doctrine.

    Scripture teaches that humans in our world have perverted our natural perfect relationship with God with the desire to not acknowledge God’s role as creator, and lord.
    A thought picture may be helpful here. Humans were created with specific needs, and functions to be expressed in a proper close relationship with God. When we fail to acknowledge Him we do not function well being cut off from the source of life and fulfillment, in fact we self destruct. Humans have sought to be our own masters, a consequence of which is degenerate lives, spiritual death, and eventual eternal physical death and agonizing solitude. But God, in the person of the Father shows us his great love for us and has intervened to keep us from our headlong bent to self destruction. Not being content to leave us to our otherwise certain degenerate lives and eventual death and eternal destruction He has provided a way for us to reestablish a meaningful correct relationship with Him, regenerating our sprit, giving us hope, and purpose. Unfortunately the payment was very high. The cost of our sin is death this can not be avoided. Fortunately God came to mankind as the person the man Jesus of Nazareth, the Jewish Messiah. He lived among the Jews, and he revealed by his life to us the character and loving nature of God the Father. Despite remaining without any fault or failure, he was put to death. Though he suffered incredible pain, anguish and isolation, scripture relates He was pleased to undergo death by crucifixion because He knew it was the only way for mankind to reestablish a right relationship with God. The Father honored Jesus’s sacrifice, and actually brought Jesus back to life, revealing the success of God’s plan to redeem mankind to Himself. Jesus did ascend to heaven, but sent from heaven the Holy Spirit, who is God, and a unique person, like Jesus, and the Father, the three a complex unity, “Echad” in the Hebrew, “Trinity” in English. The holy Spirit empowers those redeemed by God to live a regenerate life with purpose, hope, and salvation from our sinful nature. He empowers us so we can love sacrificially, endure hardships, to live a regenerate life, to pursue holiness to please the Father, and glorify Jesus.

    In the scriptures , the book of Titus, chapter 3 Christians are commanded to be subject to rulers, authorities, to be obedient, ready for every good work, to not speak evil of any man, not be contentious, but to be gentile, showing all meekness toward all men. Christians do this because we know how corrupt we once were, but are now forgiven by Jesus’ sacrifice, and are regenerate by the Holy Spirit by God’s grace, not because we have done any worthy thing. We have eternal hope, and the source of strength to endure.

    Of course sometimes we blow it and stumble in our desire to live holy lives, but we get back up and seek God’s forgiveness, and the forgiveness of any we have offended. That is why I think a christian will look forward to working with anyone who does not know the saving grace and regeneration of God. Clearly there are a lot of the “religious” who practice a lifestyle of believing that if they act good enough, then God will accept them. God says in the scriptures this is impossible. These are actually not “Christians” but souls who still want to be in control of their own destiny, trying to earn a relationship with God on their own terms. Perhaps this is what drives many religious people, to act as exclusive as they do.

    Disclaimer: the above is both generalized and condensed. If you are offended by any omission, or addition I have made, please feel free to respond.

  35. Bert Walker,
    Good synopsis of the theology. Our problem, of course, is befriending without endorsing behavior. It requires indwelling of the Spirit, which too often we deny or obstruct.

  36. “Do you sodomize your wife?”
    — NYU law school student Eric Berndt, followup question after asking Justice Antonin Scalia to explain his dissent in Lawrence v. Texas.

  37. I’ve made made a similar point to Bert’s, except in about 1000 fewer words. 😉

    The main point being that Jesus did minister to sinners and one might also contemplate what Jesus’s meant when he wrote ‘Render unto Caesar’.

    The grey area is whether a devout Christian should be legally forced to take part in ceremonies they consider central to their beliefs when the nature of the ceremony, according to their beliefs, have been distorted in a sinful way. If you’re a photographer at a gay wedding it certainly can be argued that you are facilitating the ‘sinful act’. This is not in the same class as, say, renting a car to a homosexual.

  38. “Sincere belief” means that you actually live your life in accordance to the principles of an actual religion (vs your own religious concoction). It is demonstrated in court by your having a history of following it. Hobby Lobby, for example, incorporates following Christian principles into its mission statement and operations, does not open on Sunday, closes earlier than most businesses to allow their employees more time with their families, gives a lot of money annually to Christian charities, plays Christian music in their stores, etc. The owners are not people who decided on a whim that paying for abortifacients for their employees was a bad idea. They also did not have that belief based on practical or vague “moral” qualms. I think NO business should have to pay for that, for purely practical reasons. There is simply no compelling government reason that anyone should be made to pay for an elective drug or procedure, especially one that is controversial. But even if there were, no religious organization or private business owned by religious people should be compelled to do so.

    There are no religions that teach that people with a public business must refuse to deal with gay people. Thus it is ridiculous to claim that the law means that businesses could do so.

    Indiana’s law contained the extra parts about businesses and individuals because of specific court cases that were decided wrongly — IMHO. It was meant to provide business owners — and lots of other people — with protection from being forced to do things by laws that should never have been made in the first place according to our constitution.

  39. I really have a hard time with this issue. Why can’t the photographer be busy that day? Do a poor job? Charge too much? Make snide comments frequently? “What do you mean I was supposed to get both husbands in the pic, where’s the bride, anyway”? Bring along a large crew and make a ‘laugh u mentary’.

    The happy boyz inquire about my photographing their event. I explain that I’m not any good for that sort of event, it’s an art thing, my heart simply won’t be into it. They insist. I extract a large fee, in advance, and require them to sign a waiver that they have been advised that a camera on tripod would do a better job. Then I show up and take photos of something, focused somewhere.

  40. The proof of ‘sincerely held belief’ is very low in court — you say you believe it. Court precedent is that the courts are a poor arbiter of belief, so they take you at your words. However, if evidence is provided that you do not practice your stated belief (ie, if Hobby Lobby had printed Sunday hours, frex), then the courts will rule your belief insincere.

    So ‘sincere belief’ is a very low bar, but it can be challenged by showing you commonly acted against your stated belief.

    This Stanford Law Review article is an excellent review. http://www.stanfordlawreview.org/online/questioning-sincerity

  41. My friends and brothers in Christ,

    I think we are dodging the issue and playing games without getting to the deeper point. Christians come up with a bunch of objections to gay “marriage,” but we often avoid the best reason: it promotes the sin of sodomy, and is therefore wicked. Talk about “religious liberties” and “the wellbeing of children” are important, but are just sidestepping the main issue.

    It can be known through reason via Natural Law that sodomy is evil, and should not be supported by any government. Judaism, Christianity (all Apostolic Churches), Islam, and Buddhism (Hinduism might, I’m not sure) all testify against sodomy (the Dalai Lama and the Pope agree more on sexual morality by far than modern Americans do with both). Sodomy could be tolerated in the sense that the law enforcement shouldn’t try to prosecute it, for pragmatic reasons, but if public institutions themselves promote it, those institutions are unjust and should be not be followed, and reformed if pragmatically and charitably possible. No matter of imaginary “rights” can justify such a scandal.

    Christi pax.

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