Explaining the Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Wow, what a firestorm, this whole RFRA business in Indiana.

The basic media outrage being spread by both traditional media and social media is: Indiana people (Hoosiers) and Indiana businesses now have a right to discriminate and deny service to anyone they find objectionable based on religious grounds.

This is not what RFRA does.

After spending too much time trying to convince non-Hoosiers, that the people of Indiana are not filled with homophobic bigots, I have decided to clarify and take you through the steps that this RFRA legislation provides.

Oh, and before we do that, I will acknowledge that there are plenty of homophobic bigots living in Indiana.  We also have racists.  JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER OF OUR 50 STATES.  But they don’t represent the majority of Indiana people, just like the nuts at Westboro Baptist Church do not represent the majority of Baptists, or the majority of the population of Topeka Kansas.

If RFRA is not a licence to discriminate, what is it? RFRA is only to be used in court cases as a defense for people who are being sued by someone who claim that they were treated unfairly (discriminated against) because of religious beliefs.

Let’s walk through this using the LGBT argument that is being spread.  “Bob & Bill” are wanting to marry and are needing various wedding services.  They want a professional photographer to shoot their wedding and all the festivities. So they visit “Main Street Wedding Photos” and make their request.  Here’s a few scenarios of what could happen:

  • The owner agrees, just as they requested. Why? Because the owner wants their business and has no issues with their request.
  • The owner tells them he is unable to fulfill  their request because he does not have the time and or capacity because he is already booked for the date and time.  If the owner is lying, he is guilty of lying and they may have a court case. But this not likely to win in court as it is hard to prove.
  • The owner tells them he is unable to fulfill their request because his religious beliefs are such that he can’t participate in a wedding between two homosexuals.  “Bob & Bill” will have to go to court to attempt to force the owner to take their money and photograph their wedding.  The owner can use the RFRA as his defense.
  • The owner tells them he is unable to full fill their request for whatever reason and recommends another wedding photographer.  “Bob & Bill” contact  another wedding photographer who agrees to their request. There is no court case since “Bob & Bill” were able to get their wedding festivities professionally photographed.

Now let’s take this in another direction with another example.

“Bob & Bill” own a custom bakery and they are gay.  “Susan” goes to their bakery and wants them to bake a couple of sheet cakes with the words, “Adam & Eve, not Adam & Steve” in bright blue icing letters. “Susan” belongs to a Christian Womens Group and the cake is for an event they are having.

“Bob & Bill” can decide to take “Susan’s” money and fulfill her request.  Or they can tell her no, that would violate their beliefs.  If “Susan” wanted to take “Bob & Bill” to court, they could use RFRA as their defense and probably win. Odds are that “Susan” would simply go to another bakery and there would be no lawsuits.

One more scenario: “Robert” is pro-nazi and goes to “John” who is Jewish and is a printer.  “Robert” wants “John” to print 100 flyers for a rally that are pro-nazi.  If “John” declines to fulfill the print order, and he is threatened with a lawsuit, RFRA can be used as his defense as RFRA prevents the government from forcing “John” to print the flyers.

RFRA actually helps the proponents of separation of church and state by keeping the government from interfering in each of our religious beliefs.

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