Tag Archives: Freedom of Religion

A friend from Ireland reports on their referendum on same-sex marriage

Ireland 2015 Same-Sex Marriage Referendum
Ireland 2015 Same-Sex Marriage Referendum

I got an e-mail from a friend in Ireland about the referendum they just had where the pro-marriage side lost by a margin of 62-38.

He writes:

Hope you don’t mind the link suggestions but I’ve listed some interesting articles from the marriage referendum in Ireland. I’m from the North part of Ireland so I couldn’t vote but some of the vitriol and hatred from the so-called “tolerant” left was absolutely vile. From “all the no voters should be murdered” to “why don’t all you no voters jump into a well”, it was fairly clear to see just what the true colours were.

The slogans all around the country were “marriage equality for all”. By hijacking the term “equality”, this effectively suggested that any naysayers are just vile, intolerant bigots. It wouldn’t be like the secular left to shut down discussion now would it?

[…]What I think you may be interested in is the sheer scale of the bullying that went on here. “Vote No” posters were ripped down, eggs were thrown at no campaigners and a young child was even hurt at a demonstration. Virtually all discussion was closed and no debate was allowed with respect to the politicians. All parties were enforcing the whip and any dissenters would no doubt be expelled from the party. Then you have to throw in the huge corporations that have offices in Ireland like Google, Microsoft and Twitter. They all have policies which promote diversity and inclusion so how would any no-voters who happen to be employees of these companies feel when their employer takes a political stance?

He understands the problem with the redefinition of marriage so that it is based on “love” rather than a lifelong commitment centered around producing and raising children:

What frustrates me about this slogan is that they absolutely were not about “marriage equality for all”. They still place limits on marriage such as close relatives, young children or indeed other topologies of relationship such as polyamory.

It seems to be that marriage in Ireland from this point forward is just some genderless institution for the purposes of validating love. Perhaps the government will introduce some means-testing to ensure that the love of those involved really is valid!

Yes, that’s the problem with love, it comes and goes. And that’s why male-male and female-female relationships are so short lived. If marriage is about feelings of love and self-fulfillment, rather than the needs of the children you make to have a mom and a dad who love them and care about them, then it does not last. Period. (Aside: and that’s why you never marry a woman who rejects responsibilities, expectations, and obligations for fun and thrills!)

Here are his three links:

  1. Ireland’s ‘tolerant’ elite now demonise anyone who opposes gay marriage
  2. Ireland’s gay marriage vote was never an equal contest
  3. Asking questions about funding for referendum campaign

I had already read the first two, but not the third. I really recommend reading the first one, so you can reflect on where your money is going when you choose to patronize big corporations, and when you vote for parties on the secular left, as many Christians do.

Just briefly from the first:

The president, Michael D Higgins, and the prime minister, Enda Kenny, back gay marriage. So does virtually every politician. Indeed, the main parties are enforcing the party whip on gay marriage, meaning any Senator or TD who votes against it is likely to be expelled from his or her party. According to the Irish Independent, even politicians who harbour ‘reservations about this major legislative change’ are not speaking out, ‘for fear of disobeying the party whip’.

[…]The public sector also backs gay marriage. It’s apparently being strongarmed to do so. According to one dissenting politician — the only one — ‘agencies who receive state funding are being pressured [by officials] into supporting a Yes vote’.

Silicon Valley is fully behind Yes: Twitter, Google and eBay have all come out for gay marriage. Twitter’s Irish boss says a Yes victory will enhance ‘Ireland’s international reputation’ — another way of saying that if you vote No, you are damaging your own country. Even the police are saying Yes: the Garda Representative Association caused a stir by calling on its members to support gay marriage, leading some to wonder if it’s right for coppers to stick their truncheons into politics.

So, the armed wing, political wing and chattering wing of the Irish elite is behind Yes.

The second article mentions that U.S.-based gay activist groups bankrolled the Yes side effort:

I suppose it is possible that the vote would have been quite as conclusive – roughly 60:40 – if the debate had not been both staggeringly one-sided and the Yes campaign had not been bankrolled so overwhelmingly by US pressure groups. Certainly the youth vote would have gone that way anyway.

[…]But one of its in-house dissidents – the impression of balance is desirable – is Breda O’Brien, a Catholic commentator, who rather put the cat among the pigeons with a piece on 9 May on the funding for the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (Glen) and other lobby groups by a US organisation called Atlantic Philanthropies. The striking thing about the donations was not just their size – $4.7 million to Glen in 2005-11, nearly $475,000 to Marriage Equality; some $11.5 million to the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, 2001-213 – but that they refer to years before the referendum debate got under way. I can’t wait to see the actual figures for the campaign itself. By comparison the No campaign got by, I gather, on a shoestring budget of about 200,000 euros.

So when friends of mine found that when they entered a shopping centre in Limerick by one entrance on Thursday and left from the other, they were bombarded with leaflets from the Yes campaign, there was a reason for it besides spontaneous enthusiasm. One side could afford a PR campaign; the other couldn’t, though the papers heroically made the most of the tiny-by-comparison sums that US Christians put the way of the No campaign. The motives of Google for entering the fray are probably similar to those that made it take sides on the issue in the US; the referendum was on Friday, and you couldn’t open their bloody homepage without being told it was in favour of marriage equality.

The third article he mentioned talks about how well gay activist organizations were funded. While Christians are giving away billions to feed the hungry and help the poor, our freedom to speak and practice our religion was being removed by groups with very different priorities.

My friend writes, in a second e-mail:

If I was a blogger here I’d be asking three things this morning…
  1. If marriage is now a genderless institution focused only on adult love, is the government going to propose a new institution that is solely focused on children?
  2. If marriage is now purely about a validation of love then wouldn’t it be wise of the government to consider investigating the depth and sincerity of this love before before handing out marriage licences? They surely wouldn’t want to validate a relationship where the two parties weren’t really in love. Some sort of means-test perhaps? /irony
  3. Given the slogans aiming for marriage equality for all, at which point does the government plan to remove the current limits that restrict marriage to two persons?

My question would be this: when will Christians realize that they are under attack and start redirecting funds to pro-marriage groups rather than anti-poverty groups and big government? That money could have been used to fight back in Ireland, but instead Christians just seem to have their heads in the sand on how the world really works.

And finally, I want to add one more article to his list, about a baker in Northern Ireland who was fined for refusing to bake a cake that celebrated same-sex marriage.

Most Americans believe that religious businesses can refuse gay wedding-related services

This poll is from CBS News.

It says:

A majority of Americans (57 percent) continue to say it should be legal for same-sex couples to marry, although that’s down three points from a high reached in February. Most Democrats (66 percent ) and independents (61 percent ) think same-sex marriage should be legal, while most Republicans (61 percent ) do not.

Still, just over half of Americans (51 percent) think small business owners should be allowed to refuse wedding services to same-sex couples if it violates their religious beliefs; 42 percent think those businesses should be required to provide those services. There are sharp partisan differences on this issue.

I found the numbers in this poll troubling – it seems to me that the support for same-sex marriage over religious liberty is worse than I thought.

According to this Washington Examiner article, Bobby Jindal and Ted Cruz appear to be the toughest defenders of religious liberty, with Walker and Rubio in the second tier.

It says:

Evangelical Christian voters are facing an unusual problem: they may have too many choices when it comes to the 2016 presidential election. Several Republican candidates are vying for their support, viewing the voting bloc as a key stepping stone to the nomination.

More than ever before, evangelical sources say, candidates will need to focus on the issue of religious liberty to win this crucial vote, especially in states like Iowa. Many evangelicals felt Indiana Gov. Mike Pence failed to stand up for his state’s Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, which animated conservative Christians across the country.

Steve Deace, a leading talk radio personality in Iowa, believes the impact of Pence’s decision on voters in his state cannot be understated. “There’s a better chance Hillary Clinton will be the [GOP] nominee next year than Mike Pence,” Deace told the Washington Examiner. “Religious freedom is going to be the biggest issue. It has become a transcendent issue. It’s bigger than life, it’s bigger than marriage.”

[…]Bob Vander Plaats, the CEO of the social conservative group the Family Leader, is a kingmaker of sorts in Iowa who has gained influence in the state by leading the effort to remove three Iowa Supreme Court judges from office because of a decision in favor of gay marriage. In 2008, he endorsed former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. In 2012, he picked former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa.

This time, Vander Plaats expects to endorse someone around the Thanksgiving holiday, and said Huckabee, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz are the Republicans that have already impressed him.

[…]Deace said that after the candidate forum he moderated in Des Moines, Iowa, last month, he believes Cruz and Jindal to be the early favorites among evangelical voters. But many evangelical voters, he says, have interest in Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and have not yet made a decision. Unlike recent elections past, Deace says evangelical listeners who are loyal members of his audience want someone who has the organization and financing capable of winning the Republican nomination.

“They’re tired of the false choice of choosing between the guy who believes in something and the guy who raises a bunch of money,” Deace said. “They want the guy who believes in something to raise a bunch of money. … They’re not necessarily looking for the nice guy, or the guy who says ‘Jesus’ the most.”

Evangelicals have several good candidates this time in the primary. I am still favoring Jindal and Walker above all the others, and I’m happy to see that they are seen as solid on religious liberty.

Warning: if the Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage, you could lose your church

Hillary Clinton and the Human Rights Campaign
Hillary Clinton and the Human Rights Campaign

This is by John Zmirak, who is writing at The Stream. You should read the whole thing.

He writes:

If you aren’t following the arguments over same-sex marriage before the Supreme Court, you should be. Even if you don’t cater weddings or sell pizza in Indiana, your religious freedom is in danger. For detailed accounts of the debate and the questions asked by justices that might be readable tea leaves, see Ryan Anderson’s analysis and the capsule summary provided by Russell Moore and Andrew T. Walker.

The outcome of this week’s debate will determine whether orthodox American Christians will fall to the status of dhimmis, the third-class Christian citizens of sharia Muslim states. (Dhimmis have bare freedom of worship, but pay special, heavy taxes and are excluded from any positions of influence.) If the court imposes same-sex “marriage,” it will be exposing the churches attended by the majority of Americans to sustained legal attack. Does that sound like crazy alarmism? The Solicitor General of the United States agrees with me. Except that he is in favor of it.

Justice Samuel Alito asked Solicitor General Donald Verrilli whether acceptance of same-sex marriage would subject orthodox Christian churches to the treatment once accorded Bob Jones University, which lost its tax-exempt status because its ban on interracial dating contradicted federal policy. Verrilli seemed a little taken aback, then answered yes, “it’s certainly going to be an issue.”

In other words, if the Supreme Court votes against natural marriage, it will free up the feds to target organizations you might have heard of, such as the Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention. (In theory, the feds might also take aim at every mosque in America, but something tells me that the mosques are likely to get a pass.) Remember that the Obama administration has already tried to force these same churches to provide abortifacients to their employees. Attacking their tax-exempt status over biblical sexual ethics is peanuts next to that.

In case you don’t follow tax policy as a hobby, see Joe Carter’s detailed account of the grave consequences this would have for churches. Put briefly, most would close. Unless, of course, they caved.

Imagine if your house of worship needed to turn a hefty profit, so it could pay the same taxes on its property and income as a casino or a strip joint — unlike Planned Parenthood, since that abortion business is a tax-exempt (and federally funded) “charity.” Imagine if none of the money you gave your church were deductible from your taxes, unlike the money you sent to Greenpeace. Many if not most religious schools and colleges would also shut their doors, unable to pay the same business taxes as for-profit diploma mills.

The First Amendment won’t prevent any of this. When the dictates of a religion conflict with what courts have ruled is a constitutional right, the church’s claims give way every time.

Practical point:

When presidential candidates come to our states to court us during the primaries — the only time faithful Christians exercise any real leverage in this country — the issue of same-sex marriage must now rival abortion in its importance. Any hopeful should be pressed repeatedly to give a straight, unambiguous answer to this question: “Do you support a constitutional amendment restoring natural marriage? If not, then what exactly will you do to protect my religious freedom? If nothing, why should I support you?” We should print that question on cards and distribute it in Iowa and New Hampshire, and candidates should hear nothing else from us till they answer. We need to know whether a year from now we will be living like Americans, or increasingly like Christians in China.

You don’t have to speculate about these things, you just have to look north to Canada, or east to Europe, where the secular leftists are much stronger. Same-sex marriage is a club that the secularist leftists can use to get publicly expressed religious convictions out of the public square, once and for all. All they have to do is leverage sentiments of tolerance that come from religion to pass the gay marriage law, and then use the gay marriage law to get rid of the moral convictions that make it harder for them to do what they want without feeling ashamed. And it’s working, because we have reduced Christianity to emotions, instead of grounding it on reason and evidence. It’s all about feeling good now, and feeling good is more important to most Christians than respecting God’s actual character.

Hillary Clinton attacks Indiana’s religious liberty law

First, let’s take a look at what Jesus says about same-sex marriage.

Matthew 19:1-6:

1 Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan.

2 And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?”

4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,

5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?

6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Now, let’s see some reactions to the Indiana law, which I explained in a previous blog post, from people on the secular left.

Hillary Clinton thinks that any arrangement of people who love each other is as good as any other:

Hillary Clinton opposes religious liberty
Hillary Clinton opposes religious liberty

Her tweet implies support for incestuous relationships being “marriage” as well as polygamy. That is a direct logical implication of calling an arrangement of people who love each other “marriage”.

But she’s not the only one.

Marriage defender Ryan T. Anderson responds to Apple CEO Tim Cook in the Daily Signal.

He writes:

Apple CEO Tim Cook has taken to The Washington Post to tell the nation that, in the words of the headline, “Pro-discrimination ‘religious freedom’ laws are dangerous.”

Notice the scare quotes around “religious freedom.” But the reality is that the only person in favor of discrimination in this debate is Tim Cook.

It is Tim Cook who favors laws that discriminate against people of faith who simply ask to be left alone by government to run their businesses and their schools and their charities in accordance with their reasonable belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. It is Tim Cook who would have the government discriminate against these citizens, have the government coerce them into helping to celebrate a same-sex wedding and penalize them if they try to lead their lives in accordance with their faith.

[…]As Sarah Torre and I explained last week, Indiana’s religious freedom law protects citizens from government coercion—it places the burden of proof on the government if it is going to violate liberty. For over 20 years, the federal government has lived by this standard—the Religious Freedom Restoration Act  passed unanimously in the House, with 97 votes in the Senate, and was signed into law by Bill Clinton. Twenty states have passed this law. And 11 additional states have religious liberty protections that state courts have interpreted to provide a similar level of protection.

So, in total, the federal court system and 31 state court systems enforce this level of protection. Why is Tim Cook suddenly opposed to it?

The answer is simple: This isn’t a debate about Religious Freedom Restoration Acts. This is a debate about whether Americans should remain free to live in accordance with the truth about marriage in their public lives. This is a debate about whether or not the government should be able to coerce people into violating their belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.

This is what the Indiana law is suppose to defend against:

Again, it’s not a slam dunk – all it says is that when a secular big government sues a person of any religion to force them to deny their faith, then religious liberty can be brought in as part of their defense during their day in court. By the way, always vote for smaller government, then these things don’t even happen because marriage, family and private businesses are less regulated.

How is the law applied?

This article from The Federalist lists 10 examples of how religious freedom laws have been applied.

Here’s one:

7) Muslim prisoner fights to wear short beard: Abdul Muhammad
Abdul Muhammad is a Muslim incarcerated in Arkansas. He was not allowed to grow the 1/2 inch beard his religion commands even though Arkansas permits beards for other reasons. And the same beard would have been allowed in 44 state and federal prison systems in the country. In 2011, he filed suit. He won the suit using the “RFRA for prisoners” — the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. That bill was also signed by Bill Clinton.Earlier this year, Muhammad won his case unanimously at the United States Supreme Court. They held that he’d shown the restriction was a substantial burden on his religious exercise.

And:

9) Florida denies prisoners kosher meals: Bruce Rich

Bruce Rich is an Orthodox Jewish prisoner in Florida, one of the last remaining states in the country that doesn’t provide kosher food for Jewish prisoners. He argued this violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, RFRA for prisoners.

Florida claimed it limited food options to control costs and maintain security. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which took Rich’s case, noted that 35 states and the federal government provided kosher meals without it posing a problem.

[…]Rich withdrew his case once Florida began providing the necessary meals.

Does this law sound like a free pass to discriminate against gays to you? It goes to trial, and religious liberty is part of the defense that the judge considers.

Look at this opinion from another Indiana law professor:

I should stress–and this point was totally lost in the Indiana debate–that RFRA does not provide immunity. It only allows a defendant to raise a defense, which a finder of fact must consider, like any other defense that can be raised under Title VII or the ADA. RFRA is *not* a blank check to discriminate.

Here’s another defense of the Indiana law by an Indiana University law professor who supports same-sex marriage.

You can read another analysis of the religious liberty law from Gabriel Malor, a gay conservative. Actually, I re-tweeted THREE gay conservatives who were in favor of the law yesterday (Gabriel Malor, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Gay Patriot).  This is not what you are hearing in the mainstream media, but is being used as a club to beat Christians into silence. And sadly, many younger evangelicals will respond to this and vote Democrat out of a lack of understanding of the issues.

How to respond to complaints about Indiana’s new religious freedom law

Good news to start your day!
Good news to start your day!

First, the story, from the Daily Signal:

A bill known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act has been signed into law by the governor.

Supporters of Indiana Senate Bill 101 say that the law protects the free practice of religion, and opponents say the law will allow gay and lesbian individuals to be discriminated against.

For example, the law could permit business owners who felt that being forced to serve a certain customer in a particular case violated their religious beliefs to appeal to a judge. The courts would then decide if their objection was valid or not.

The bill was passed by the House 63-31 on Monday, and was approved by the Senate 40-10.

Gov. Mike Pence, R-Ind.,  approved the legislation today.

“Indiana is rightly celebrated for the hospitality, generosity, tolerance and values of our people, and that will never change,” Pence said in a statement. “Faith and religion are important values to millions of Hoosiers and with the passage of this legislation, we ensure that Indiana will continue to be a place where we respect freedom of religion and make certain that government action will always be subject to the highest level of scrutiny that respects the religious beliefs of every Hoosier of every faith.”

This is the key part:

Sarah Torre, a policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal that the bill is modeled off of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, which passed with bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

The federal law “prohibits substantial burdens on religious exercise unless the government can show a compelling interest in burdening religious liberty and does so through the least restrictive way possible,” said Torre. “Protections for religious freedom, like the one passed in Indiana, provide a commonsense way to balance the fundamental right to religious liberty with compelling government interests.”

Torre said that it’s important to note that the law “doesn’t allow individuals to do whatever they wish in the name of religion:”

“The law is simply a commonsense way of balancing government interests with the fundamental freedom of individuals to live out their faith. There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression—to ensure public safety, for instance. But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Such legislation at the state and federal level merely protects First Amendment rights, according to Torre.

“A robust conception of religious liberty provides every person the freedom to seek the truth, form beliefs, and live according to the dictates of his or her conscience—whether at home, in worship, or at work,” said Torre.

Torre added that 19 other states have similar laws.

And if that were not enough, here is an Indianapolis Star editorial from law professor at Indiana University School of Law – who supports same-sex marriage – who is in favor of Indiana passing the bill.

He writes:

I am a supporter of gay rights, including same-sex marriage. But as an informed legal scholar, I also support the proposed Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

[…]The bill would establish a general legal standard, the “compelling interest” test, for evaluating laws and governmental practices that impose substantial burdens on the exercise of religion. This same test already governs federal law under the federal RFRA, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. And some 30 states have adopted the same standard, either under state-law RFRAs or as a matter of state constitutional law.

[…]But granting religious believers legal consideration does not mean that their religious objections will always be upheld. And this brings us to the issue of same-sex marriage.

Under the Indiana RFRA, those who provide creative services for weddings, such as photographers, florists or bakers, could claim that religious freedom protects them from local nondiscrimination laws. Like other religious objectors, they would have their day in court, as they should, permitting them to argue that the government is improperly requiring them to violate their religion by participating (in their view) in a celebration that their religion does not allow.

But courts generally have ruled that the government has a compelling interest in preventing discrimination and that this interest precludes the recognition of religious exceptions. Even in the narrow setting of wedding-service providers, claims for religious exemptions recently have been rejected in various states, including states that have adopted the RFRA test. A court could rule otherwise, protecting religious freedom in this distinctive context. But to date, none has.

In any event, most religious freedom claims have nothing to do with same-sex marriage or discrimination. The proposed Indiana RFRA would provide valuable guidance to Indiana courts, directing them to balance religious freedom against competing interests under the same legal standard that applies throughout most of the land. It is anything but a “license to discriminate,” and it should not be mischaracterized or dismissed on that basis.

What the secular leftists in the media are saying is that the law gives religious people the right to reject any customer for any reason. Big businesses, which are overwhelmingly leftist, are also reacting the same way. The truth – as we saw above – is nothing like what the secular leftists are saying. The law is simply an echo of a federal law that already exists and was signed by Bill Clinton. Well done, Indiana. Well done, Republican legislators. Well done, Governor Mike Pence.