The conservative Christian base of the Republican Party clearly wants to have a fight over what it calls “Religious Freedom” in the upcoming election cycle. No longer able to defend their flawed logic on why same sex couples will destroy the institution of marriage they’ve moved on claiming their 1st Amendment rights are being infringed.
I’m not going to address that equally flawed logic in this post, but I am going to share that I was happy to see the results of last Thursday’s Reuters/Ispsos poll, which found that a majority (54%) of Americans believe businesses should not be allowed to refuse services based on their religious beliefs. I believe this trumped up issue of “religious freedom” is going to be repeatedly used by conservative Christians to shape the Republican primary in an attempt to dupe the public into thinking the community that is being discriminated against (the LGBT community) is somehow at fault.
Earlier this week I wrote a post, Why the “Religious Freedom” discussion is both disingenuous and dangerous. Considering the fact that those most obsessed with the need to protect “religious freedom” are also some of our country’s most homophobic political leaders should make you think. Couple that with the fact that the discussion is a reaction to marriage equality laws and one need not be Sherlock Holmes to read these clues.
This latest debate on ‘religious freedom’ is nothing more than an escape clause for homophobic business owners to refuse service to the LGBT community. If Christian business owners were really concerned (for their immortal soul) about having to serve people who violated their religious convictions then why are they serving customers who are divorced, practice a different religion, known adulterers or liars (and the list continues)? Why is it that only the LGBT community that seems to be causing this crises of conscious? It is because they are bigots using religion as a shield to disguise and and confuse the debate.
Did you know that divorce is identified as a sin approximately two dozen times in the Bible? By contrast homosexuality is discussed less than ten times so why is divorce not considered twice the sin of homosexuality? These devout Christians should be focused on all the divorcées in their community who have made a mockery of “traditional marriage”, which they supposedly hold so dear.
The Bible is riddled with all sorts of “sins” like getting your hair cut, eating shellfish, getting a tattoo, etc… yet these behaviors don’t seem to offend the supposedly ‘devout’ Christian business owners. It seems to me if religious freedom is being called into question then only business owners who truly observe every tenant of their faith should be allowed to claim this need for an exemption. For all those who are picking and choosing their religious convictions, it sounds more like an excuse to get the government to approve discrimination – and that is unconstitutional.
Much thanks to Jordan for sharing.
Moral Majority – Family Values – Religious Freedom
What do the above phrases have in common with each other? They are all catch-phrases employed by Republicans looking to redefine social discourse. In the 1970s Nixon often referred to the “Moral Majority” to appeal to white, Protestant voters since racially divisive language was no longer acceptable. Two decades later “Family Values” was often cited as a way for Christian Conservatives to deflect criticism for insisting upon the need to legislate their religious beliefs.
Let’s be clear the reason every conservative is suddenly claiming the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) doesn’t go far enough to protect “Religious Freedom” is more of this same bullshit. Conservatives recognize that just as using racially charged language is no longer acceptable it is no longer acceptable to use homophobic slurs so they’ve modified their language to drum up outrage and portray themselves as victims.
When you hear someone talking about “religious freedom” stop and engage them immediately. Don’t wave it off or ignore this language, because it is code for discrimination but presented in more palatable messaging. American’s believe in religious freedom just as much as individual liberties and the LGBT community must push back and ask what exactly about serving our community infringes upon their religious freedom?
We know that silence creates a vacuum and in that vacuum this conservative messaging will thrive. Ask intelligent questions and start a dialog with anyone you hear talking about how their religious freedoms are being infringed. There is a similar parallel to the lack of substance behind the anti-marriage equality argument – but absent your dialog – Americans will come to accept and believe religious rights are being compromised and need to be protected; at the expense of your rights.
I know I’ve been hammering away at this Indiana law but the responses from the supposedly moderate Republicans contemplating a run for President of the US I find as sickening as Governor Pence response to America’s reaction to the law.
Gov. Jeb Bush – Monday, March 30, 2015
The Hugh Hewitt Show: “I think if they actually got briefed on the law, they wouldn’t be blasting this law,” Bush said. “I think Governor Pence has done the right thing. Florida has a law like this. Bill Clinton signed a law like this at the federal level. This is simply allowing people of faith space to be able to express their beliefs. I think once the facts are established, people aren’t going to see this as discriminatory at all.”
Gov. Scott Walker – Monday, March 30, 2015
FOX: Governor Walker has been uncharacteristically quiet preferring to have spokespeople speak for him which makes me think he probably disagrees with the law but refuses to speak out against it. Rather he had spokeswoman AshLee Strong issue the following statement, “As a matter of principle, Gov. Walker believes in broad religious freedom and the right for Americans to exercise their religion and act on their conscience.” I have no idea what he is saying and I think that is intentional.
Carly Fiorina – Monday, March 30, 2015
USA Today: Fiorina said it was “shameful” how, in her view, liberals have fanned the furor over the Indiana law. “I honestly believe this is a set of liberal political activists who practice a game of identity politics and divisive politics to whip people into a frenzy, and I think it’s very destructive to the fabric of this country.”
Gov. Chris Christie – Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Wall Street Journal: When asked about the law Wednesday, Mr. Christie said that there should not be “a situation where people perceive that anybody would be denied service.” But he defended Mr. Pence’s character. “I know Mike Pence and he’s got nothing but love in his heart for people,” Mr. Christie said. “I just do not believe that in any way Mike Pence would intend for anything that happened in his state under his watch would be discriminatory toward any person.”
Just days before Indiana Governor, Mike Pence, signed the state’s bogus “religious freedom” law and made IN a poster child of intolerance, I received an advance copy of Michelangelo Signorile’s latest book, It’s Not Over.
Talk about timing…
Signorile postulates that the incredible progress seen with regards to LGBT rights and in particular marriage equality in recent years has fanned the flames of homophobia in America and stiffened the resolve of conservatives who are determined to win this cultural war. He also turns a critical eye to supposed “allies” of the LGBT community in Washington, the media and Hollywood who too often remain complacent and in the words of the book “become a roadblock to progress.” I’ve yet to read the book and have based my summary on reviews as well as the inside book cover’s description and will write about it again after the book is available for sale.
The timing of this book could not be more appropriate as other states emboldened by Indiana now contemplate similar “religious freedom” laws and an increasingly conservative wing of the Republican Party begins to flex its muscle as the Presidential Primary season for 2016 begins.
The 259 page book (77 of which are notes added to the end of the book) is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and will be available for sale on April 7th. If you plan on purchasing this book consider supporting your local LGBT bookstore. In Boston you can order a copy at Calamus Bookstore.
Today The Center for American Progress distributed a release, indicating that the state of Indiana now stands to lose at least $250 million for passing their “religious freedom” legislation, which is widely seen as legalizing discrimination against the LGBT community. Despite the fact the legislation is only a week old, the ‘religious freedom” law has tarnished the state’s reputation and made the state a pariah. As of April 1st, The Center for American Progress details the lost and at risk revenue as follows:
Angie’s List: $40 million
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, conference: $500,000
At Risk Revenue:
Big Ten football, 2016–2021: $96 million ($16 million per year)
Big Ten men’s basketball, 2020: $8 million
Big Ten women’s basketball, 2017–2021: $10 million ($2 million per year)
NCAA Men’s Final Four, 2021: $71 million
NCAA Women’s Final Four, 2016: $25 million
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) 2017 General Assembly: $5.9 million
One should assume this is no joking matter for the state as more companies are now coming out condemning the legislation and indicating their plans to essentially create an embargo on all activity in their state. I think it is safe to say that Governor Pence and the Republican led State legislature in Indiana have done more to harm their state’s reputation and lose more money than they ever expected. I hope the scrutiny remains and the losses continue to mount.