Misinformation, please?

Throughout the month of June, downtown Des Moines corners have been occupied by college-age folk wearing blue shirts adorned with the ACLU logo. These idealistic, well-meaning, and ill-informed youngsters have been buttonholing passers-by and asking them to sign a petition "supporting equality."

It's a petition against the various state laws protecting individual religious freedom as regards homosexuality. The abortive laws in Indiana and a while back in Arizona are cases in point. Contrary to the disinformation these kids (like Jimmy Fallon, various other talk show hosts, and the media generally) have been spreading for years, the laws do not in any way, shape or form, condone or enable discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

To begin with, sexual orientation isn't the issue where the religious issues Christians and others have with the situations these laws deal with are concerned. No rational person regards sexual orientation as a moral issue. The issue is sexual behavior.

In the second place, it is nothing short of bizarre- an paranoid- to think that a coherent case could be made for people denying gays service in restaurants or in housing and so forth on the basis of the Christian religion. Note that I do not claim that such claims might not be made. Just that they couldn't be rationally defended in court. Otherwise, why haven't they been?

What the kids (and the media) don't tell people is that the laws are virtually identical to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act- a piece of legislation introduced by notorious reactionaries Ted Kennedy and Chuck Schumer, passed almost unanimously by both houses of Congress, and signed by Bill Clinton. It was ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court as regards Federal law, but not as regards state law.

They merely require that laws against such discrimination be framed in such a way as to impose, in the words of the Supreme Court's Sherbert test (named after Sherbert v. Verner, an employment discrimination case testing the degree to which employers had to accommodate the religious beliefs of employees), the "minimum possible burden" on the religious beliefs of others.

The Sherbert test applied by the Supreme Court was as follows:

1. The first prong investigates whether government has burdened the individual's free exercise of religion. If government confronts an individual with a choice that pressures the individual to forego a religious practice, whether by imposing a penalty or withholding a benefit, then the government has burdened the individual's free exercise of religion.

2. However, under this test not all burdens placed on religious exercise are unconstitutional. If the first prong is passed, the government may still constitutionally impose the burden on the individual's free exercise if the government can show it possesses some compelling state interest that justifies the infringement (the compelling interest prong); andno alternative form of regulation can avoid the infringement and still achieve the state's end (the narrow tailoring prong).

The Supreme Court limited the applicability of the test in City of Boerne v. Flores in 1997. In it, Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, held that Congress had the right to enforce, but not define, the substance of constitutionally guaranteed rights. Thus, the RFRA could apply to the Federal government, where Congress was the prevailing legislative authority, but not to the States.

Contrary to what is frequently claimed by the Left, the Supreme Court did not declare the RFRA unconstitutional. In fact, the Court reaffirmed its constitutionality as regards the Federal government in Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal in 2006.

The precedent cited by the Supreme Court in its Gonzales ruling was- wait for it- the ACLU''s own victory in  Ashcroft v. the American Civil Liberties Union!

All the state laws do is to apply to the individual states protections which have already been ruled constitutional as regards the Federal government in Gonzales. It's hard to see how any reasonable person could have a problem with that. But the cultural Left- including, sadly, the ACLU- does. It's part of the current ideological fixation on the Left side of the spectrum on the task of marginalizing, silencing, libeling and slandering anybody who doesn't agree that sodomy is in all respects the moral equivalent of the act by which the human race is perpetuated, and ought to be its legal equivalent, as well.

Sadly, the ACLU- once a bulwark of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in particular- has changed its tune now that "progressive" orthodoxy has reversed itself on the sanctity of religious liberty.

But it's sadder still that the cultural Left is allowed to get away with these lies, while attacks on peoples' motives and the threat of slanderous charges of bigotry not only effectively silence the other side of this non-debate, but prevent any media outlet which desires to be objective from even reporting its arguments.


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