Indiana RFRA “fix” is a full repeal, religious liberty will be no defense

CNS News analyzes the “fix” proposed by Indiana Republicans.

Excerpt:

Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long announced Thursday that they would submit a new versionof the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to Gov. Mike Pence to counter criticism that it discriminates against gays and lesbians.

“It was never intended to discriminate against anyone,” Long told reporters. “That perception led to the national protests we’ve seen.”

But a lawyer for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty says the proposed legislative “fix” is not only unnecessary, it would undermine the religious rights of Hoosiers and leave them vulnerable to criminal prosecution for following their religious beliefs, the opposite of what RFRA was intended to do.

“We think the Indiana law is a very good law which is modeled on what has worked at the federal and state level for 20 years, and which is similar to constitutional provisions that are backed up by 50 years of jurisprudence,” Becket legal counsel Daniel Blomberg told CNSNews.com. “These laws work very well to protect the religious rights of minorities.

“All the Indiana law does is the same thing that’s been working very well for a long time,” he pointed out. “Today the Indiana legislature proposed a ‘fix’ that we think is 1) unnecessary; and 2) itself is broken and would create a very dangerous change in Indiana law.

“Individuals asked to be part of a same-sex wedding who decline because they feel it violates their religious beliefs would not be able to raise the RFRA under the ‘fix’,” Blomberg told CNSNews.com. “It would leave them defenseless. It also makes specific allowances for criminal prosecution. So not only is the ‘fix’ not helpful, it should not be accepted.

“We have a choice on how to handle these situations. We can allow government to drive religious people out of business, fine them and possibly imprison them, or we can allow religious people to have their day in court, and let the courts balance their religious claims against other competing values.”

Gary Bauer explains what’s at stake:

“Gov. [Mike] Pence is going through a rhetorical lynching,” Gary Bauer, former Republican presidential candidate and president of American Values, told CNSNews.com. “This is what we were warning about in the [Manhattan] Declaration, and why the Declaration was written.”

Besides upholding the “sanctity of life” and the “dignity of marriage,” the Manhattan Declaration, which was signed by Bauer and a number of other religious and political leaders in 2009, championed “religious freedom”. “No one should be compelled to embrace any religion against his will, nor should persons of faith be forbidden to worship God according to the dictates of conscience or to express freely and publicly their deeply held religious convictions,” the Declaration stated.

It warned that “freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized by those who would use the instruments of coercion to compel persons of faith to compromise their deepest convictions.”

Such restrictions “undermine the viability of the intermediate structures of society, the essential buffer against the overweening authority of the state, resulting in the soft despotism [Alexis de] Tocqueville so prophetically warned of,” the Declaration continued. “Disintegration of civil society is a prelude to tyranny.”

“It’s becoming clearer and clearer that the tolerance movement used by the cultural Left in recent decades was just a poll-driven strategy and not an actual commitment to tolerance,” Bauer continued, adding that the Indiana law is being used to cut off debate and redefine anyone with traditional moral values as a bigot. “Every pastor and every parent should be deeply worried about what is happening in Indianapolis,” he said.

I guess I blame the church for this. I go to church. I know what goes on in there. It’s a sermon on the gospel every week. There is about 20 minutes of singing. Current events are never mentioned. The existence of God and the resurrection are never explained or defended. The Bible is just assumed to be true, and no issues outside it are ever discussed. Objections to Christian theism are never named, much less defended against. Reasons and evidence are never provided for the Biblical view on topics like abortion or same-sex marriage, much less economics, the environment, etc. The emphasis is on comforting people. The emphasis is on not judging. The emphasis is on making people feel good and leaving them free to do whatever makes them feel good.

I just don’t see young people having any interest in defending Christianity any more against the culture. I mean, I am seeing “pro-life”, “pro-marriage” evangelicals voting for Democrats because they want a bigger secular government.  They want more money to be transferred from Christian families to Solyndra so we can fight the global warming monster. They believed Obama about keeping your doctor, keeping your health plan, and not funding abortions – but Obama lied on all three of these. They want to vote for Obama’s promise that health insurance premiums will drop $3000 in 2008, and then vote for the same guy again in 2012 when the premiums have actually gone up $2500. They voted for Obama saying that he supported traditional marriage, but then his Justice Department declined to defend the Defense of Marriage Act.

Young Christians just don’t care about marriage as Jesus defined it – one man, one woman, for life.  They say they do, but then they vote for the party that opposes religious liberty when they get the chance. Global warming and raising the minimum wage are more important. Why? Because the secular culture told them so. And that’s their authority when it comes to voting.

Young Christians just seem to be completely disloyal to God as he really is. I don’t think that Christians really want to have to think about what would work to defend God’s reputation and character from these attacks. They just want to do their own thing, and get the praise from men, rather than the praise from God. In my own case, I am now in my upper 30s and still very much respecting the Biblical standards around sex: no pre-marital sex, no adultery, no frivolous divorce. Why is it such a difficult standard for younger evangelicals to accept and to defend? They seem to believe that chastity, natural marriage, and natural child-bearing are all unimportant things. The only rule now is to have fun with sex, and to never judge anyone for breaking the rules. That’s not what the Bible teaches, but that’s what young Christians believe. Who is going to talk to them about it? Not the pastors. Not their parents. And not their friends.

11 thoughts on “Indiana RFRA “fix” is a full repeal, religious liberty will be no defense”

  1. I encourage you to be more specific when you dismiss the preaching of the Gospel. I think I know what you mean if you are saying that if you repeat the same “4 spiritual laws” type message every week then you are missing the big picture. But focusing on the many facets of the real Gospel is what we should do. Because of the Gospel we can have the courage to fight evil in the world. Because of the Gospel we really love our neighbors so we oppose abortion. Because of the Gospel and the renewing of our minds we love God with our minds. And so on.

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  2. If Mike Pence signs the amendment to the RFRA, he can kiss his 2016 Presidential aspirations goodbye…along with the respect of real conservatives everywhere and the religious freedom of the people of Indiana.

    I really wish Republicans would grow a spine and stop bowing to the demands of the vocal fascist minorities that make a big ruckus every time they don’t like something. Not only is it wrong to give up everyone’s rights because a group doesn’t like it (and that’s a big deal), but it’s not even politically smart.

    For one thing, it’s often a much smaller group than most people think. They just, apparently, don’t have anything better to do than write letters, tweets, blog posts, and facebook statuses about the issue around the clock. Oh, and there are a good many people who don’t know anything about it and are just repeating what they heard from some activist group without bothering to find out the facts. But the fact that some group is hollering about it doesn’t mean they’re representative of what the people think on the issue just because they’re loud and obnoxious.

    But even worse than that, these noisy little groups have about the attention span of a 3 year old. They’re only mad right now because this is the trending outrage of the day. Give them a week or two and they’ll have forgotten all about it and moved on to another trendy topic.

    But NO…Republicans have to appease everybody, even at the expense of religious freedom and even when it’s political suicide and even when these people don’t know what they’re talking about and are only repeating what their friends told them is the outrage to be mad about today. I’m so sick of it.

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  3. You are right. I am a young person and live in Indianapolis and have been absolutely floored at the lack of response, and even the support of this bill among people at church. I don’t understand the utter lack of critical thinking and understanding of the basic fundamentals of Christianity. A lot of times I feel very alone. What do we do? How do we fight? It seems this has set a precedent. It seems this unsubstantiated polemic against Christianity is only going to escalate.

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    1. I am not sure what the answer to this is. Part of it is surely to support the ADF and other Christian legal defense groups, and that takes earning money and being frugal, so that there is money left over to donate. That’s the first thing – earn good money, save it, and then be generous in making effective donations. Part of it is voting carefully, and being involved in elections, and encouraging people around you to be smart about how they vote. I am not very good at doing this face to face, but the blog has an influence. Part of it is being willing to go to the right universities and getting the right degrees in order to be influential. I sort of failed at that, because I had no idea about any of these things when I was young. Part of it is being willing to marry well and have children, and then raise them to be effective and influential, instead of just being passive and permissive. Doesn’t mean being a bully, just means being involved in your kids’ lives. I mentor about a dozen young Christians, but never married myself. I really wanted to, and wanted to raise influential kids with a good mother for them, but it just didn’t happen. I guess I could always hope for quintuplets if I married late. I can afford them!

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  4. Great take-off. Perfect altitude with no turbulence. You were flawless in your criticism of the neo-evangelical church and it’s incompetence with apologetics and indifference towards social policy. Unfortunately, you missed the airport landing strip and crashed hard at the end of your article.

    Your comment about the youth reminded me of Elijah, when he assumed he was one of only a few righteous men left. God corrects him by declaring in 1 Kings 19:18 “Yet I have reserved 7,000 in Israel, that have not bowed to Baal…”

    I was surprised that out of all the people you criticized, you focused on the youth. First, it’s not factually based. Washington Times did a report and found that in 2014, Students for Life hosted the largest pro-life training of any group ever assembled. Virtually all of them were 17 to 25, with a total of 2,500 gathered to organize for the event. We may, in fact, be seeing the largest secular movement known to the United States, but it’s not coming from the younger generation. It’s dispersed in age.

    Secondly, when the Book of Judges begins, after the death of Joshua, it states: “And another generation grew up who neither knew the Lord nor what He had done for Israel.” Why did this generation not know the Lord? Was it because of the young adults incompetence, or their parents, pastors, or older mentors? Quite frankly, the generation in front of the youth is responsible for proper training and discipling the next generation, so the buck actually stops at the age group in the 40s and 50s, not the 20s and 30s (I am 29).

    Now, I find it unhelpful to criticize any cohort, because honestly, the church is supposed to be training the next generation. All of us are personally responsible for discipling, equipping, and preparing our brothers and sisters in Christ for the future persecution about to hit our country. I live in Indiana so I know exactly what is at stake here with the RFRA bill. A house divided will not stand. Each generation in the church, I believe, needs to stand together and due diligence to maintain the gospel.

    I think the older generation could do a better job at being more contextual with our youth without forsaking the gospel. It’s okay to wear jeans instead of khakis for the Lord’s supper, as long as the Bible isn’t watered down. On the other hand, it’s okay for the youth to recognize their own weakness in not maintaining a level of commitment. They didn’t grow up in a generation where you got married young, went to war, and had kids. They got hit by the devastating economy where you can receive a Master’s degree and still work for $8 an hour. The older generation needs to realize that they didn’t live in the same situation, and must try to help them at being more committed and consistent and not just think they are lazy and play video games all the time. This is a caricature and hasty generalization (I am not assuming you think that).

    Finally, let’s admit it. Each generation has their own issues. The thing we must do now is have an intergenerational approach, disciple one another, and stand up for our freedom. Give Christ all the glory brother, and remember, the Church is still strong. There are still prophets of God, those who speak the truth, that have not bowed their knees to the false god of “tolerance,” “inclusivity” and “political correctness.” Be of cheer, get excited, the best is yet to come my friend in Christ! God bless!

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  5. So…what would you suggest? If pastors, parents and friends won’t tell them, who do you suggest should? How would you go about solving this problem? I have an idea, given some of your thoughts in previous posts, but would be curious to know how you would begin to deal with this problem?

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  6. I’m also curious as to your view about preaching in the church. Would you prefer there to be apologetics lectures in the pulpit every Sunday, as opposed to the preaching of God’s Word? How do you view expository preaching? I’m curious who you would view as models of preaching that you would prefer. I don’t think preaching the Bible has to neglect current issues, but I’m starting to think that’s where you’re leaning towards, and would ask for further clarification.

    In other words, would you rather have William Lane Craig as your pastor who continually gives his arguments for God’s existence on Sundays over John MacArthur who would regularly preach a passage of Scripture and give the meaning? I don’t think it’s either/or, but your denigrating pastors makes me wonder if that’s what you think.

    I know this blog is devoted to the topic of apologetics, but have been wondering for a while if you see Scripture as evidence for the truth of Christianity, or more as inadmissible evidence. I’m sure you have heard sermons where the preacher incorporated apologetics into their preaching, no? Not everyone is as ‘bad’ as A.W. Tozer (not sure why you single him out, by the way).

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  7. “The emphasis is on comforting people. The emphasis is on not judging. The emphasis is on making people feel good and leaving them free to do whatever makes them feel good.”

    Exactly, the point is to maintain the largest congregation (and money stream) as possible. You can’t alienate anyone. But that also means you can’t admonish sin.

    At some point you have to conclude that they aren’t really Christians at all. I think about how many problems in this country that would go away if Christians would vote their religion. But are there enough left anymore?

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  8. The normal Christian voices are muted regarding the “fix” to the Indiana RFRA Act (this post being something of an exception). The fix did not merely gut the law, it actually puts on the books a law that can be used against conscientious objectors to so-called same-sex marriage. That’s right: this law has been converted from a shield intended to defend religious liberty into a sword that the opponents of religious liberty can use against conscientious objectors.

    For some reason, Christian leaders are being relatively silent about just how bad the Indiana-Arkansas debacle has been for the cause of righteousness in American public life. Conscience-burdened Christians in Indiana are now worse off than they were before the law was proposed.

    As for Republicans, it is self-defeating for us to blame them. The only Christians for whom the Democratic Party will make a place are those who claim the name of Christ but cling to progressive/liberal idealogy instead of the idealogy of Christ (in other words, a Christian in name only). And all a third party will do for Christians is elect more Democrats because it will split the conservative vote. We just need to hold our noses and keep voting Republican.

    As for the spiritual quotient of America, it’s worse than any of us imagined. Popular culture has become thoroughly corrupt. Darkness has covered the land and spiritual blindness prevails. This can be seen in the absence of any rational arguments from the opponents of RFRA last week. All they did was shriek, and the news media reported it as sensible objection. Journalists have utterly betrayed their professional heritage of speaking truth to power. Instead, they worship power. And they hate Christ. They may not think that they hate him, but their actions can be explained by no other motivation.

    There is no currently no interest in religious freedom among America’s leaders today because hardly any of them are religious. They can’t see where they will ever need to exercise religious freedom so it’s something they consider unimportant. That the country was founded on it it utterly lost on them.

    Let us get on our knees, let us re-double our commitment and devotion to our Lord. And let us never, never, never, never, never bow to society’s idols. They have chosen to worship pleasure. We will not join them. Neither will we give them the satisfaction of saying that they are right. So-called same-sex marriage is a corruption of God’s design and rebellion against His authority. They are exalting sin. And they will take the country down with them. Yet our God is mighty to save.

    They cannot take away our religious liberty; they can only punish us for exercising it. And exercise it we will. Until our dying breath.

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