It is fairly well-established that Americans are not the brightest people, but even semi-literate folks have a fundamental grasp on reading comprehension. However, since Ronald Reagan opened government to theocrats intent on replacing the Constitution with bastardized Christianity, it appears that an alarming number of Republican legislators abandoned any pretense of reading comprehension. It is a national travesty because every legislator swears they will uphold the nation’s founding document they want to replace with an ancient religious text.
In America, according to Article VI of the Founding Document, “This Constitution shall be the supreme law of the land.” It is simply stated so that a third-grader can comprehend it. In the 14th Amendment to that “Supreme law of the land” it says “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive or deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” That protection includes anti-discrimination laws; something Republicans in Indiana just cannot comprehend, and refuse to countenance.
On Thursday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed legislation legalizing discrimination based on the religious right’s “free exercise” of their bigoted beliefs that Republicans in Indiana contend are the law of the land. The law allows Indianans who are sued for discrimination to cite their religious beliefs as legal defense for bigotry under every conceivable scenario; all to give religious bigots legal cover to violating the 14th Amendment. It is a despicable trend among over a dozen religious red states passing theocratic laws to subvert the U.S. Constitution and Pence appeared proud. The law is extremely broad in scope and goes far beyond just legalizing bigotry and discrimination towards the LGBT community; no group is immune.
For example, evangelical employers angry at Jews for killing their Jesus can refuse to hire or serve an adherent of the Jewish faith them in their establishment and cite their religious freedom as a valid defense against discrimination lawsuits. The same applies to a landlord who refuses to rent to Muslims, gays, atheists, Catholics, Buddhists, Pagans, African Americans, or “Gingers” because the Constitution is subordinate to the bible in Indiana. After signing the theocratic edict into law Pence swore up and down that the unconstitutional law had nothing to do with discrimination. He said, “If I thought it legalized discrimination in any way in Indiana, I would have vetoed it.” Either Pence did not read the law or he is a liar; being a typical Republican he is lying.
The lying evangelical said he signed the law because of his ardent support for “the freedom of religion for every Hoosier of every faith.” In his theocratic signing statement Pence claimed that “Today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action.” Government action is theocratic code for the U.S. Constitution that religious fanatics believe is abominably subservient to their reading of an archaic collection of religious mythos; mythos they claim is the supreme law of the land. Pence even went so far as to justify his claim of “attack by government action” by citing the University of Notre Dame’s fight to prevent any of its employees from accessing birth control because the Vatican will not tolerate anyone using what they consider immoral “unnatural birth control.”
Preacher Pence signed the theocratic edict in secret because there were mass events in Indianapolis in opposition to the theocratic law including the very profitable and powerful NCAA’s Final Four that decried the edict as discriminatory and suggested it will cause the state to lose out on future business. In fact, immediately after Pence ushered in theocratic law on Indianans, the theocracy felt the first pangs of negative economic impacts of a religious law legalizing discrimination in the state.
For example, a $4 billion software company that is part of the S&P 500, Salesforce, says that it is canceling all of its events in Indiana. Salesforce CEO Benioff said, “We’ve made significant investments in Indiana. We run major marketing events and conferences there. We’re a major source of income and revenue to the state of Indiana, but we simply cannot support this kind of legislation.”
The company employs between 2,000 and 3,000 employees in the state and holds an annual event that draws over 10,000 people and injects over $8 million in Indianapolis’ economy. Benioff also said, “We can’t bring our customers or our employees into a situation where they might be discriminated against. We have a large number of employees and customers who would be impacted dramatically by this legislation; I’m advocating on their behalf.” The software company is not the only organization angry about the bigoted religious law.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) said it was “concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees.” NCAA president Mark Emmert said, “The NCAA national office and our members are deeply committed to providing an inclusive environment for all our events.” The NCAA hinted that future events will be affected as a result of the law, and despite Indianapolis hosting the college basketball championship 22 times since 1940, it will likely not in the future.
The co-founder of online transaction business eBay also condemned the religious law legalizing discrimination. Max Levchin said in a Tweet that, “What is happening in Indiana is pretty unbelievable. However it’s dressed up, it’s a signal that discrimination is welcome in this state.” Another giant group, GenCon, is the largest gaming convention in America with over 56,000 attendees spending more than $50 million in Indianapolis; GenCon said it would leave Indiana if the religious edict became law. However, maybe Pence and theocrats in the Indiana legislature can recoup the tens of millions in lost revenue through a massive bible selling campaign replete with a highly-publicized ceremony burning a stadium-sized Constitution.
What is a welcomed sign, and not surprising in 2015, is that the theocratic law is even too severe for many, many Christian religious groups. The leaders of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ have threatened to move their Indianapolis convention that draws at least 6,000 attendees, and their valuable dollars, to the city. The church leaders sent a letter to Pence prior to his signing the religious edict saying, “As a Christian church, we are particularly sensitive to the values of the One we follow (Jesus Christ); one who sat at table with people from all walks of life, and loved them all. Our church is diverse in point of view, but we share a value for an open Lord’s Table.”
Even local Indianans condemned the theocratic law harshly. The mayor of South Bend, Pete Buttigieg, railed on the bill earlier this week and stated the obvious that it was “divisive” and sends “exactly the wrong message about Indiana’s openness. No one has explained why the Statehouse is focusing on divisive social issues when we have such pressing needs for action on infrastructure, jobs, child protection, and education.” One can possibly excuse Mayor Buttigieg’s statement, what with the unwritten American law against calling out extremists in the Christian movement in public, but he knows why Republicans focus on imposing theocracy on Indiana and the nation; evangelical clergy campaign from the pulpit and religious fanatics turn out to vote en masse for Republicans. These discriminatory, and patently unconstitutional religious, laws are remuneration for electoral support from evangelicals who helped install religious Republicans in Congress, state legislatures, and Indiana’s governor mansions.
The Democratic Party in St. Joseph county called on decent citizens to boycott businesses that exercise their new-found religious authority to violate the 14th Amendment of the Constitution and discriminate against people they hate; with is likely anyone who is not an evangelical fanatic. The party chairman said in a news release that “Personal beliefs are one thing, state sanctioned discrimination is another. The fight over who gets to sit at the lunch counter was won years ago. We have fought the fight against bigotry and hatred before and we will do it again now. If you believe in justice and equality for all, I call on you to join us in this moral obligation.”
It is also every Americans’ obligation to the Constitution on two counts; regardless what the Vatican-5 on the Supreme Court say. Government sanctioned religious imposition is patently unconstitutional, and the 14th Amendment is abundantly clear; even for Indiana’s Republican governor and legislature. They may have the reading comprehension of an amoeba, but they certainly understand that “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive nor deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Whether religious right fanatics, religious Republicans, or Indiana Governor Mike Pence know or accept it or not, that equal protection issues forth from the United States Constitution which is the law of the land; not the Christian bible and damn sure not some bigoted Christofascist edict whether it is Indiana or the dozen other Republican states legalizing discrimination based on evangelical theocracy.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.