Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), guarantees an individual right to conduct business without ‘substantially burdening their ability to exercise their religion.’ In other words, it allows a person to use the law as a defense in private litigation and sets a standard by which cases involving religious objections are to be judged.
This should be a non-event as “Religious Freedom,” is a cornerstone of this American nation. Furthermore, Indiana’s RFRA is based on a 1993 Federal Act, sponsored by Senator Ted Kennedy, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton.
The 1993 law was in response to the Supreme Court’s Employment Division v. Smith (1990), which determined the state could deny unemployment benefits to a person fired for violating a state law forbidding peyote use, even though the use of the drug was part of a religious ritual. The federal RFRA “prohibits substantial burdens on religious exercise unless the government can show a compelling interest in burdening religious liberty and does so through the least restrictive way possible.”
Progressives claim there are several differences in the Indiana law from the federal RFRA pointing to Section 9. Under that section, a “person” whose “exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened” can use the law as “a claim or defense…regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.”
That’s the rub – Progressives don’t want to go a lawsuit alone – they want the federal or state government to be forced to pick up the banner in their ‘social rights’ crusade. In the end, Indiana’s RFRA does not give businesses a “license to discriminate” against the LGBT community, but rather forces the state to work within a narrow legal limit giving businesses a defense against federal and state lawsuits.
It also prevents the state from doing what the New Mexico Supreme Court did to “Elaine Photography” when it ruled that state’s RFRA only applied in cases where the government interfered with religious freedom. The court rejected photographer Elaine Huguenin’s argument in which she stated her refusal to take pictures at a homosexual wedding did not discriminate against same-sex customers, but rather violated her religious beliefs.
RFRA protects the rights of everyone, regardless of their religious affiliation or lack thereof. In other words, not only can the Christian owner of a bakery refuse to make a wedding cake for a homosexual couple, but the Black owner of a print-shop can’t be forced to produce fliers for the Ku Klux Klan, the Jewish owner of a gift shop can rightly refuse to put swastikas on coffee mugs and the American Indian cannot be denied a hallucinate to be used in his religious rituals.
Sad, that no one seems to believe in letting people live their lives as each sees fit anymore.