Republican Party

As Religious Tyranny Arrives, Religious Freedom Lovers Flee Indiana

Hobby Lobby-style religious discrimination has come to the Hoosier State, and Billy Graham’s son, Franklin Graham, has let the cat out of the bag about the purpose of Indiana’s religious tyranny bill, posting on Facebook on March 25 that,

Indiana’s got the right idea! The Indiana House voted this week to approve a religious freedom bill that would protect business owners who want to decline to provide services for same-sex marriages. After the 63 to 31 House vote in approval of the legislation, The Washington Post says Governor Mike Pence plans to sign it as soon as it lands on his desk. Thanks to those in government who are standing up for the freedom and protection of Christians to live out their faith. I hope more states will be quick to follow suit.

Indiana has landed itself in a boatload of trouble with their new bill, the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, which doesn’t restore religious freedom, but does create religious tyranny.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence says this is all a big “misunderstanding.” Less eloquently and far less convincingly than George Washington defending the Constitution in his letter to the United Baptist Churches in Virginia, Pence says “This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination I would have vetoed it.”

But Pence knows it is religious discrimination. And that is why he signed it. Listen to Pence try to sell the idea that freedom is tyranny and tyranny is freedom:

This bill was supposed to be a big deal for Indiana bigots. The idea that icky people they don’t like are equal to them is something they can’t tolerate, and now they won’t have to. Red State, the political rag that represents moochers and economic parasites, actually said yesterday,

It is really a freakin shame when the nation has deteriorated to the point where it is a) necessary to pass a law guaranteeing free exercise of religion and b) where it is controversial to do so.

That would be true if, a) the RFRA guaranteed the free exercise of religion and, b) it was necessary to do so. That’s already covered by the United States Constitution.

Such was the immediate outrage sparked by this new law from far and wide, including the National College Athletic Association (NCAA), the yearly gaming convention GenCon, the mainline Protestant denomination, the Disciples of Christ, and technology giant Salesforce, that Indiana has set businesses and organizations looking for places where actual religious freedom reigns (and those probably won’t be red states, Red State).

NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement,

The NCAA national office and our members are deeply committed to providing an inclusive environment for all our events. We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees.

“We will work diligently to assure student-athletes competing in, and visitors attending, next week’s men’s Final Four in Indianapolis are not impacted negatively by this bill.

Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce.

This is huge in a state so closely associated with college basketball as Indiana.

Adrian Swartout, owner and CEO of Gen Con LLC, sent a letter to Pence in the wake of the bill being sent to the governor for signing, writing that,

Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state’s economy, and will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years.

According to Swartout, that’s an economic impact of $50 million a year (added to the $5.9 million impact of the Disciples of Christ) heading somewhere everybody gets treated like a human being. A place with actual religious freedom. In other words, one of the 30 states without laws like the RFRA.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff went on the Twitter warpath in response to the RFRA, tweeting:

Later, he tweeted, showing he’s serious:

And he continued to tweet:

While it’s doubtful the NFL will listen to Keith Olbermann of all people, he did score a solid extra point when he tweeted,

This medieval measure was supposed to be a moment of triumph for bigots throughout Indiana, for men and women who hate Jews, who hate Muslims and atheists and gays and lesbians and transgenders. Instead, Governor Mike Spence slunk away and signed it in private like the shameful act it was.

You see, an actual religious freedom bill has to protect all people. Indiana’s RFRA, by Graham’s own admission, only protects the rights of fake Christians like him to persecute everybody they don’t like.

I can think of a very prominent episode when it was legal to refuse to serve Jews: Nazi Germany. Stay classy, Indiana.

The RFRA is religious tyranny, the act of one religion saying it’s better than all others and deciding it will get to make all the rules for everybody else, regardless of their own beliefs. That’s pretty much the history of Christianity for the better part of the last 2000 years. People came to this country to get away from that.

We were bequeathed a secular Constitution to protect us from religious tyranny. The RFRA is the very thing the Founding Fathers were trying to prevent when they wrote Article VI, paragraph 3 of the Constitution, and later, the First Amendment.

Like Mike Pence and Republicans everywhere, Graham doesn’t get that. He doesn’t “get” America at all. On March 23 he posted something that says more about his skewed views than about the people he hates:

One of the greatest threats to America is the progressives (a new name for liberals) led by President Obama and his Attorney General Eric Holder who are trying to impose a new morality—which is really no morality at all—jamming it down the throats of the American people. America has been blessed by God more than any nation on the face of this earth. When our country was birthed, its foundations and laws were based on biblical laws and principles. We used to be “one nation under God,” now we’re a nation that has turned its back on God. History shows that when nations do this, their end is near.

Miley Cyrus may have said it best, when she said Mike Pence is an “a**hole,” posting on Instagram:

You’re an asshole @govpenceIN -1 cc: the only place that has more idiots tha[n] Instagram is in politics.

And as a little correction to Franklin Graham, we were one nation under God only since 1954. Before we became “one nation under God,” we were just “one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

For all. Not just fake Christians who need an excuse to persecute minorities.

Graham, Pence, and their ilk, don’t understand their own Bibles, the U.S. Constitution, or American history.

I have an idea: Maybe Republicans should be required to pass a citizenship test. I bet Franklin Graham and Mike Pence would fail. But I bet they could find gainful employment in a terrorist organization somewhere.

Hrafnkell Haraldsson

Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen's Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.

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