Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act

religious-freedomV2I am always amazed at how many people watch the news and believe everything they hear!  Have we really become a people too lazy to make a few quick clicks of the mouse and actually read something for ourselves?  We live in the internet age for crying out loud, almost anything you want to know can be accessed from your home or office in seconds!  The number of people and organizations who have jumped on this “boycott Indiana” bandwagon is astounding…have they actually read the Bill?

Don’t be one who  simply listens to others and then goes on a tirade about something you know nothing about…you are smarter than that!  Read and research for yourself and then if you disagree, you disagree.  But you do so with some intelligence.

Below are my thoughts on the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  At the end I have provided some links for you to investigate this media frenzy for yourself.  After reading and investigating I would love to hear where you stand on this issue.  We may disagree, but at least it will be a disagreement by two people who have actually read the law and made up their minds for themselves!

There is nothing in this Bill or law that breeds discrimination.  However, the anger filled response to the law is discrimination for sure!  Opponents of the law do not want people of faith, those with religious views to have any protection from the government.  That’s discrimination.  The real issue behind all the uproar is that the LGBT crowd have been convinced by liberals that if this law stands homosexuals might not get hired based on their sexual orientation.  This is not true.  This is not the issue.  Don’t be fooled, this is a Religious Freedom issue!

The Bill is about the level of scrutiny a court uses when reviewing a discrimination case as it concerns the government, not homosexuals. For the uninitiated (as I was before Law School) “levels of scrutiny” are simply the standards  a court uses in evaluating cases involving government discrimination. (THIS BILL DOES NOT EFFECT PRIVATE BUSINESS OWNERS!) There are three levels of scrutiny recognized by the SCOTUS (there are actually a few more possibilities, but for our purposes and in general there are three)  These levels are identified as Strict Scrutiny, Intermediate Scrutiny, and the Rational Basis Test.

Various kinds of government discrimination cases receive different levels of scrutiny.  For instance, if a public university (State) is accused of racial discrimination, the court uses strict scrutiny.  So, the court will ask, does the government have a “compelling government interest” in allowing the discrimination and has the law been “narrowly tailored” (applied in the least restrictive way possible) to that government interest.  Another example would be in a case where the government is discriminating in some way against a particular group of people in the interest of national security.  If the law is narrowly tailored and can be proven to actually be in the interest of national security, then it will stand.

In the case of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Bill simply proposes that:

“Sec. 6. A state action, or an action taken by an individual based on state action, may not substantially burden a person’s right to the exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a law or policy of general applicability, unless the state or political subdivision of the state demonstrates that applying the burden to the person’s exercise of religion is:

(1) essential to further a compelling governmental interest;

and

(2) the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest.”

Simply put, if the government is going to substantially burden (interfere with or restrict) a person’s religion in any way, the government must show that it is only doing so because of a “compelling governmental interest” and that the interference and/or restriction on the person’s religion has been done in the least restrictive means (way) possible.

Why would we think this is a bad idea?  Truthfully, many people think it’s a bad idea because it allows for  more protection for people of faith from government intrusion.  But of course they can’t say that so they argue that this is something else.  The “something else” was easy to choose, they chose the hot topic of the day…Same-sex marriage and the LGTB community’s rights.  So, the mainstream media and others have scared people into believing that, “people everywhere are now going to be discriminated against and there will be nothing anyone can do about it.”  Not so.  Not even close.  We call that fear-mongering.  The law simply forces the government show that, the reason for a particular discriminatory act, having to do with religion, was necessary to meet a compelling government interest and that the government has tailored it in such a way as to be the least restrictive as possible.  If they can’t do that, the law will not stand.

1. Read the law for yourself: “Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act

2. Read this article by an Indiana Law Professor who supports gay marriage AND the Religious Freedom Restoration Act: “Law professor: Why Indiana needs ‘religious freedom’ legislation”

3. Read this letter by Law Professors from around the country: Law Professor Joint Letter

4.  Make up your own mind!

States/ Fed Law

 

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