Righting "Arguments" from the Right Side of Reason (and to the far Left of the Constitution)

There is a strange rumor floating around that Religious Freedom Restoration Acts are about whether a cake decorator can refuse service to a gay couple. Proponents ask whether opponents would fine and close down the business just because the owner is sticking to her religious beliefs. But that is not the question answered by RFRAs.

Would you tell a Christian youth group that the Government will pay legal costs and that it can flout zoning or whatever laws it feels are inconvenient, but an organization that provides suicide support and homelessness intervention to the kids who are kicked out of their homes by the people who run the Christian youth group that they have to obey the law and pay legal costs or lobby the government for oversight themselves?

Why is it that people who claim that they are religious get the extra privileges of government support and ignoring laws they don't like? They do not have to show this nor that the exercise of their religion would actually be disrupted if they obeyed the law; they just have to claim they are burdened. (BTW according to the Bible, the law of the land is the law that must be followed by the religious so their free exercise of religion is not impeded, but furthered, by secular law.) RFRA allows Churches to destroy historic landmarks. Look up the lawsuits that have been brought under the Federal RFRA and other RFRAs. None of them involve refusing service. They involve people citing religion as reason to break laws they dislike.

The rumor that RFRAs are about freedom or the Constitution is obviously false. None of cases brought under RFRAs could have been brought under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, because the plaintiffs in these cases cannot possibly prove that keeping the law actually interferes with Free Exercise of Religion. You want proof? Look no further than the fact that these cases were brought under RFRA, not Constitutional Law. Rest assured cases can and have been brought under the Free Exercise Clause. The very purpose of RFRAs, though, is to replace the Constitution and it's protections and to excuse people who claim they are religious from demonstrating their case; Indiana's excuses petitioners from ever funding their own efforts. This is not "restoring" the First Amendment; it is replacing it!

This is called discrimination. It is not necessarily discrimination against gays, but it can be used that way. It is utterly superfluous in allowing discrimination against gays though, as gay people are NOT protected from discrimination and hate crimes in Indiana or at the federal level to begin with. It is discrimination *for* people who claim to be "religious".

This is called prejudice, a blanket preemptive law that awards the religious over the "Church Separation" State, governments and people. Mostly, it will be used like this.

Let's say there is a profitable Christian bookstore. If this business is threatened or even just burned by a new law that is passed, the government will pay legal costs and the business that sells books that happen to be Christian able to ignore the law and stay open. Your generic bookstore, or even non-profit library next door, would have to close down and pay legal costs or lobby the government to make reasonable exceptions before the law is passed or change it after. But, it's not just this. Let's say you are also a Christian and believe sharing or selling knowledge is part of the Christian mission, then, abracadabra, your business the government pays legal costs and you get the privileges, too! This discrimination is what you are supporting if you support RFRA.

You are not supporting the cake decorator's right to refuse to make a cake for faggots. Business have the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason, as the signs in many windows state (and, PS, gay people are not particularly keen on giving money to homophobes or discovering what might have been put in the cake). Gay people are not a protected minority in Indiana or most states. If they were, the decorator could still say no (but hopefully keep her hate to herself and not bother saying why), but employers could not fire them. Legal cases involving business practices are brought under business code, not RFRAs.

Maybe you think people who claim they are religious should get special government support and the privilege to flout the law, but this is not a freedom guaranteed in the Constitution. Indeed, the First Amendment prohibits the government from establishing religious profession as a condition of rights and liberties.

I support the Constitution being restored, but I know that constitutional restoration is not a power given to the Legislature in the Constitution. It is the power of the Judiciary. No doubt, it will restore to the Constitution in this case, just has it has many times before, and just as it did when it voided the federal RFRA. A possible role in Constitutional Amendment is granted to the Legislature in the Constitution; it can recommend Amendments for ratification by 3/4ths of the State Legislatures or State Conventions. Of course though, the people who want the "restoration" are the people who fear the will of the people and wouldn't dare countenance Conventions or putting this willful, wreckless and wasteful (il)legal farce up up for vote from 3/4ths of the States. Instead, they lie, call it restoration and subvert the Constitution, contenting themselves with the bipartisan politics that always favors a majority even by 1 vote.

Since the Republican Congresses that pass such laws have no doubt cut funding for education and social studies, government and history textbooks, here is a graphic representing the Constitution's specification for how Government is to work, as well as a graphic illustrating what Republican Congresses are actually doing when they pass RFRAs.

I hope these diagrams can disabuse the rumors that RFRAs have anything to do with the Constitution, restoration or freedom. There is, however, another conservative NewSpeak rumor that is a little less subtle.

Conservatives accuse liberals of attempting to give special privileges to a favored group of people, all while passing laws again and again that do just that. They claim that civil, employment, housing rights and hate crimes protections give special rights to minorities. This is demonstrably false. Prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex protects men just as much as it protects women. The Department of Justice details, for example, that prohibitions against discrimination based on race enfranchise white people to pursue justice when not given the same employment opportunities as black people. So called reverse discrimination cases make up a significant proportion of the discrimination suits that prevail in court. "Reverse" of course is a misnomer based on the widespread and intentional misperception that anti-discrimination laws give special rights to minorities only.

The irony, of course, is that the opponents of anti-discrimination laws are generally the proponents of RFRAs, which do in fact give special privileges to only a special group. These same people are fond of the false rumor
 RFRAs are about whether a cake decorator can refuse service to a gay couple. With it, they accuse opponents of bigoted persecution of people who claim that their religion demands that they refuse service to queer people. But, that is hardly the issue to begin with. 

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