Indiana has passed a Freedom to Discriminate bill. That's the name Matthew Tully, an Indianapolis Star columnist, prefers over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Here's some excerpts from his "Statehouse Republicans embarrass Indiana. Again."
Let's call it what it is. It's discrimination wrapped up in a legislative bow. It's divisiveness painted as something holy. It's tired and cynical politics weakly masked as a principled stand.
Sure, it is cleverly labeled with a market-tested name (the Religious Freedom bill), but please don't be fooled: This is nothing more than a government endorsement of discrimination. Yes, in this land of liberty, our state's government is prepared to push into law a measure allowing one group of people to tell others that they are not equal and not welcome at their businesses.
...Once again, Statehouse Republicans have found a way to divide our state. They've done so with a bill that will allow business owners to judge the morality of their potential customers and to decide whether those customers are worthy of spending their money in their shop, bakery, or whatever.
My goodness, can Indiana Republicans just get past an anger over gays and lesbians that borders on the obsessive? Apparently, they cannot. And, so, after losing their war over same-sex marriage last year, Statehouse Republicans have joined a national conservative effort to create a crisis that doesn't exist. Along the way, they are making clear that yesterday — or, to be more accurate, the last century — still controls today's Grand Old Party.
Some relatives on my wife's side live in Indiana. Being good-hearted people, naturally they're aghast at what bigoted Republicans in their state have wrought.
I enjoyed this Facebook post from one of them:
Since our wonderful Indiana state legislature has decided that it is ok to ignore laws if you disagree with them based on religion, I'd like to announce my religious beliefs. My religion forbids me from following posted speed limits signs, as they are an abomination. I am required to drive at whatever speed I feel in my heart is appropriate.
I'll announce other laws that my religious beliefs exempt me from as I come across them. Thanks.
Naturally I had to leave a comment on the post.
Excellent idea. I recommend making the unlimited use of alcohol and psychoactive drugs part of your religion also. Makes more sense than hating gays does, or whatever other religious craziness Indiana now allows.
I've had similar thoughts about the absurdity of letting people ignore laws in the name of their religion. In "No, Ben Sasse, religious beliefs don't allow someone to ignore laws," I said:
Should people get a free pass to break whatever laws they want under the banner of religion? What prevents someone from forming the Church of Drunk Driving whose holy sacrament is tossing down a six-pack and then jumping in a car?
As already noted, "Religion" is just a name for a collection of unsubstantiated, nonfactual personal beliefs that are held by enough people to give them some sort of social acceptance.
If you hear an outside voice in your head telling you to do something, you'll be considered crazy. Unless you say that the voice is God --then you'll be revered as a religious devotee.
I don't see why religious beliefs should be treated any differently under the law as any other subjective individual belief. If we start allowing people to ignore laws they don't believe in, there will be no end to the law-breaking.
For me, the only positive aspect about Indiana granting businesses a license to discriminate is that it makes me feel good that I live in Oregon, where we're considerably more enlightened.
Today I came across an encouraging article, "This is the most godless city in America." Which is... Portland. Yay, Oregon!
If you don’t believe in God, you might want to move to the Pacific Northwest.
Portland, Ore., is No. 1 on the list of metropolitan areas with the most religiously unaffiliated residents (42%), according to the nonpartisan and nonprofit Public Religion Research Institute’s American Values Atlas, a survey of 50,000 people. Seattle and San Francisco were tied at second place (with 33%) on the list, and Denver (32%) and Phoenix (26%) were third and fourth.
Indianapolis, predictably, was 19% religiously unaffiliated. And probably it is more open-minded than rural parts of Indiana. Some of our relatives live near Bloomington, though, which is a pretty cool university town.