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Apr 042015
 

by Ryan T. Anderson — April 03, 2015

As the loud opposition to Indiana’s religious freedom law subsides, plenty of confusion needs to be cleared up.

Religious Freedom is one of the most important founding principles of American thought and is at the core of American exceptionalism.

Religious Freedom is one of the most important founding principles of American thought and is at the core of American exceptionalism.

We need to explain to our friends what religious liberty is, why it matters, and what the consequences are of undermining it or, as is the case with the “fix” enacted in Indiana, restricting its protections.

Now is a good time to take a step back. As Americans approach Passover and Easter, it’s worth remembering why religious liberty matters in the first place. For that, we can turn to our Founding Fathers. After all, they were the ones who established a political society unlike any other in all of human history—meant to not merely “tolerate” the religious practice of minorities, but to protect the natural right of all Americans to liberty of conscience and the free exercise of religion.

George Washington

George Washington

George Washington, in his Letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, R.I., perhaps said it best:

The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy—a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

One of the hallmarks of conscience and religious liberty protections is that they protect people of all faiths, even if their beliefs seem unfounded, flawed, implausible or downright silly.

Recognition of a right to religious freedom does not, however, depend on religious skepticism or relativism. Rather, it rests on the intelligible value of the religious quest—the activities of seeking to understand the truth about ultimate questions and then conforming one’s life accordingly, with authenticity and integrity.

People have rights—including the right to pursue religious truth and, within the limits of justice and the common good, to act on their judgments of what truth demands. That’s what Religious Freedom Restoration Acts do. They prohibit the government from placing substantial burdens on religious exercise unless the government can show a compelling interest in burdening religious liberty and do so through the least restrictive means.

All people possess these fundamental rights, even when they are, in some respects, in error. Kevin Seamus Hasson, the founder of the Becket Fund, captured this in the title of his book “The Right to Be Wrong.” Hasson rightly argues that religious liberty is for A to Z, Anglicans to Zoroastrians.

This basic view of religious liberty has found a place in our civil law. James Madison’s “Memorial and Remonstrance” puts the point well: “The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right.” Madison argued that it is an “arrogant pretension” to believe that “the Civil Magistrate is a competent Judge of Religious Truth.”

The right to religious liberty has its primary force precisely because of a priorduty to pursue the good of religion by seeking out the truth about God and the cosmos. As Madison explained:

What is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator. It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.

The government protects the space for citizens to fulfill this duty according to their own best judgments. Stanford law professor Michael McConnell makes just this point in an essay for the Yale Law Journal:

In the liberal tradition, the government’s role is not to make theological judgments but to protect the right of the people to pursue their own understanding of the truth, within the limits of the common good. That is the difference between “the full and free exercise of religion” (Madison’s formulation) and mere “toleration.” Toleration presupposes a “dominant group” with a particular opinion about religion (that it is “false,” or at least “unwarranted”), who decide not to “eradicate” beliefs they regard as “wrong, mistaken, or undesirable.”

The Founders got it right. Religious liberty isn’t about mere “toleration” from a dominant group that graciously opts not to coerce others. No, it’s a natural right, which all must respect within the context of justice and the common good—compelling state interests pursued in least restrictive ways. Indiana’sReligious Freedom Restoration Act would protect just that.

** See the video below to better understand why what Mike Pence did in Indiana has essentially weakened the religious freedom of Indiana citizens by weakening the very protection that the law was designed to insure.  Great job Mr Pence!

 

 

via What Would the Founders Think About Religious Liberty and Indiana?.

Apr 012015
 

by Austin Ruse — March 31, 2015

Governor Mike Pence of Indiana seems to have caved into enormous pressure and will ask the state legislature for new legislation to make it clear that Christian florists and bakers could be forced to participate in weddings that violate their religious beliefs.

Mike Pence - Governor of Indiana and spineless to boot....

Mike Pence – Governor of Indiana and spineless to boot….

Last week, Indiana joined 19 other states and the federal government by enacting a law to protect religious believers from governmental encroachment on religious freedom. Such legislation was cited in the recent Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision that determined religious employers could not be forced to supply abortion drugs to employees under ObamaCare.

In a packed press conference this morning, Pence did not give specifics about what the new legislation would say, only that he wants it to make clear that “Indiana businesses will not be able to discriminate against anyone for any reason.” He said the religion freedom bill he signed was never considered by him or the bill’s sponsors to allow a “license to discriminate.”

Such legislation has been read as supporting businesses and individuals not just to avoid supplying abortion drugs, but also allowing certain businesses to avoid serving gay weddings, usually bakers and photographers some who are now being run out of business for refusing to serve what they see as a religious ceremony that violates their own deeply held beliefs.

Pence and the state of Indiana absorbed a tsunami of protest from the main stream media, major corporations, athletes, movie stars and gay leaders after enacting the bill.

Religious freedom laws allow business and individuals to argue in court that the government is intruding upon “deeply held religious beliefs” and that they are “substantially burdened.” The government must show a “compelling goal” that cannot be met in any other way.

Advocates are calling for the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity as a new protected class in Indiana state law, something that is recognized in some Indiana municipalities. Pence says he does not advocate such special protections. Though Indiana does not have such broad protections of LGBTs, there are no reports of widespread discrimination against them.

Gay Mafia Nazis

Gay Mafia Nazis

Pence cited his youthful march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama with Martin Luther King as he said discrimination of any kind is abhorrent to him. “Hoosiers are a loving, kind, generous and tolerant people. We are known all over the world for that. And the idea that we would discriminate in any way is deeply offensive.”


Social conservatives, a base Pence would need if he tries to make it through the GOP primaries, were immediately upset.


Columnist Robert Knight tells Breitbart News, “Mr. Pence would do well to find out what Scott Walker had for breakfast when he faced down union mobs, the media and the ruling elites.”

Ohio activist Phil Burress adds, “What good is a religious freedom law if it does not protect religious freedom?”

One noted social conservative leader who spoke on condition of anonymity told Breitbart News,

gay mafiaPence is being forced publicly to accept the false premise of the bullies on the other side — that his bill was a license to discriminate against LGBTs. Pence is being forced to change the law to put a thumb on the scale — to change a neutral balancing test so that the gay rights lobby always gets to win.

WMAL radio host Chris Plante pointed out today that Christians are easy targets for the LGBT lobby and the left and wondered if they would be willing to force “a Muslim baker to provide a sheet cake with the image of Muhammad on it.”

 

via Pence Buckles Under Powerful Gay/Media Blitzkrieg – Breitbart.