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Conservative Defense of Indiana’s Hateful RFRA is Awash in a Sea of Lies

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Republican and Religious Right damage-control over Indiana’s RFRA is chaotic and entertaining, and as dishonest as the day is long.

World Net Daily, in an attempt to defend Indiana’s so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act claims that the “Fine print doesn’t mention ‘Christian,’ doesn’t target ‘gays.’

If the fine print doesn’t mention Christians and doesn’t target gays, “how can it be an anti-gay hate bill?” they ask triumphantly.

How about I pose a question for World Net Daily:

The United States Constitution does not mention God, Jesus, the Bible, the Ten Commandments, or Christianity. Using your own logic, how can the United States be a Christian nation?

We have already seen efforts to claim that the RFRA is just the federal version writ small. The Christian Post attempted this a few days ago, claiming, “Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act is a state-level version of the federal RFRA.”

This is not true, and charitably, I will suggest the possibility that CP did not bother to actually read the bill. The White House has debunked this lie.

What’s more, Pence and his fellow Republicans KNEW this was not just a repeat of the federal law, and 30 law professors warned them of this fact beforehand, informing them, in a letter,

The proposed state RFRAs threaten to destabilize the harmony among fundamental rights struck by Indiana courts in a long line of cases and in a complex set of contexts. The proposed law seeks to override this reasoned balance among rights by bluntly and categorically granting religious liberty rights a special status.

We’ve even got Sean Hannit and Dinesh D’Souza asking why gays are mad at Indiana but aren’t getting all hot and bothered by Sharia law.

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Well…I’m making a wild guess here, but maybe it’s because nobody is legislating Sharia law in Indiana?

It is obvious who the RFRA is directed toward. Its architects were anti-gay Religious Right activists – Micah Clark, Curt Smith, and Eric Miller – who then had their photo taken with Governor Pence at the signing ceremony, and who now vociferously defend the law:

EVERYONE knows what this bill is designed to do, from Franklin Graham on down. You might remember Graham’s exclamation of joy, posted on Facebook just before the bill was signed into law:

“Thanks to those in government who are standing up for the freedom and protection of Christians to live out their faith.”

Christians. Not Muslims. Not Jews. Certainly not gays, whatever their religious leanings.

Then there is the little matter of Indiana lawmakers admitting that the law permits “no gay” signs, which sort of puts paid to Ann Coulter’s dishonest claim yesterday about “the utterly apocryphal assertion that the law will be used to turn gays away from restaurants.”

Enter Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Indiana, whose owners, Crystal and Kevin O’Connor, had already admitted they would refuse to cater gay weddings (does anyone order pizza for weddings?) thanks to the new law. The local ABC affiliate said they were the “first business to publicly deny same-sex service” after Pence signed the RFRA into law.

THEY understood what this law does. And at least, unlike World Net Daily or Ann Coulter, they were being honest and up front about it, however bigoted they might be.

You can bet they expected to be the first of many as all the world rose up to denounce gay-dom in America’s basketball heartland. Except, the day the law was signed might become the day basketball died.

Turns out, there are a lot fewer bigots than the bigots thought. People who don’t think faith is defined by who you refuse to serve, or who you refuse to do business with. That discrimination is not a testament to faith.

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Especially faith in a guy who hung out with prostitutes, tax-collectors, and other low-life’s – a guy like Jesus.

It is wrong, if it happened, for people to have harassed the owners into closing their doors. I have not seen any examples of threats, or of anything beyond criticism, which is certainly fair, given the owners are more than happy to criticize gay people.

What the owners have to realize is that they are not martyrs. LGBT people experience this level of persecution all the time. They are bullied, beat, harassed, and refused service. The persecutors are not the victims.

Still, the best response would have been to simply decline to give Memories Pizza their dollars. There are other places to eat.

An irate business owner could have even refused to serve the owners under the new law. A vendor could refuse to supply them with ingredients. Religious convictions, you see. All legal. All protected by the well-meaning fascists at the American Family Association who didn’t think very far ahead about some of the unintended the consequences of their new law.

Conservatives are in damage-control mode now. With the Arkansas bill’s unraveling and denunciations coming in from all across the country, with Mike Pence stammering that maybe some clarification is needed and the Religious Right and Republican presidential hopefuls all saying “no gays” signs equal God’s love, and Ann Coulter saying people like the O’Connor’s don’t exist, obfuscation and panicked lies seem to be the order of the day.

It’s the Iran-Contra hearings all over again. And like the Iran-Contra hearings, it’s entertaining, to a degree.

I don’t think it’s all intentional either, this confusion. It’s just that they are all so flabbergasted at the rejection of their message that they don’t know what to say, so they’re all saying different things.

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Pence has even been Romney-ized by the experience, saying more than one different thing all by himself.

It’s not pretty. But neither was the law or its intended effects pretty. The lies that have followed have just made an ugly situation worse.

Maybe we should just tell the law’s defenders that when they have got their story figured out, to get back to us. In the meantime, we will keep our dollars away from Indiana. Oh, and use our own First Amendment rights to make our opinions of their bigotry – and lies – heard.

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