Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Hillary Clinton attacks Indiana’s religious liberty law

First, let’s take a look at what Jesus says about same-sex marriage.

Matthew 19:1-6:

1 Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan.

2 And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?”

4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,

5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?

6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Now, let’s see some reactions to the Indiana law, which I explained in a previous blog post, from people on the secular left.

Hillary Clinton thinks that any arrangement of people who love each other is as good as any other:

Hillary Clinton opposes religious liberty

Hillary Clinton opposes religious liberty

Her tweet implies support for incestuous relationships being “marriage” as well as polygamy. That is a direct logical implication of calling an arrangement of people who love each other “marriage”.

But she’s not the only one.

Marriage defender Ryan T. Anderson responds to Apple CEO Tim Cook in the Daily Signal.

He writes:

Apple CEO Tim Cook has taken to The Washington Post to tell the nation that, in the words of the headline, “Pro-discrimination ‘religious freedom’ laws are dangerous.”

Notice the scare quotes around “religious freedom.” But the reality is that the only person in favor of discrimination in this debate is Tim Cook.

It is Tim Cook who favors laws that discriminate against people of faith who simply ask to be left alone by government to run their businesses and their schools and their charities in accordance with their reasonable belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. It is Tim Cook who would have the government discriminate against these citizens, have the government coerce them into helping to celebrate a same-sex wedding and penalize them if they try to lead their lives in accordance with their faith.

[…]As Sarah Torre and I explained last week, Indiana’s religious freedom law protects citizens from government coercion—it places the burden of proof on the government if it is going to violate liberty. For over 20 years, the federal government has lived by this standard—the Religious Freedom Restoration Act  passed unanimously in the House, with 97 votes in the Senate, and was signed into law by Bill Clinton. Twenty states have passed this law. And 11 additional states have religious liberty protections that state courts have interpreted to provide a similar level of protection.

So, in total, the federal court system and 31 state court systems enforce this level of protection. Why is Tim Cook suddenly opposed to it?

The answer is simple: This isn’t a debate about Religious Freedom Restoration Acts. This is a debate about whether Americans should remain free to live in accordance with the truth about marriage in their public lives. This is a debate about whether or not the government should be able to coerce people into violating their belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.

This is what the Indiana law is suppose to defend against:

Again, it’s not a slam dunk – all it says is that when a secular big government sues a person of any religion to force them to deny their faith, then religious liberty can be brought in as part of their defense during their day in court. By the way, always vote for smaller government, then these things don’t even happen because marriage, family and private businesses are less regulated.

How is the law applied?

This article from The Federalist lists 10 examples of how religious freedom laws have been applied.

Here’s one:

7) Muslim prisoner fights to wear short beard: Abdul Muhammad
Abdul Muhammad is a Muslim incarcerated in Arkansas. He was not allowed to grow the 1/2 inch beard his religion commands even though Arkansas permits beards for other reasons. And the same beard would have been allowed in 44 state and federal prison systems in the country. In 2011, he filed suit. He won the suit using the “RFRA for prisoners” — the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. That bill was also signed by Bill Clinton.Earlier this year, Muhammad won his case unanimously at the United States Supreme Court. They held that he’d shown the restriction was a substantial burden on his religious exercise.

And:

9) Florida denies prisoners kosher meals: Bruce Rich

Bruce Rich is an Orthodox Jewish prisoner in Florida, one of the last remaining states in the country that doesn’t provide kosher food for Jewish prisoners. He argued this violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, RFRA for prisoners.

Florida claimed it limited food options to control costs and maintain security. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which took Rich’s case, noted that 35 states and the federal government provided kosher meals without it posing a problem.

[…]Rich withdrew his case once Florida began providing the necessary meals.

Does this law sound like a free pass to discriminate against gays to you? It goes to trial, and religious liberty is part of the defense that the judge considers.

Look at this opinion from another Indiana law professor:

I should stress–and this point was totally lost in the Indiana debate–that RFRA does not provide immunity. It only allows a defendant to raise a defense, which a finder of fact must consider, like any other defense that can be raised under Title VII or the ADA. RFRA is *not* a blank check to discriminate.

Here’s another defense of the Indiana law by an Indiana University law professor who supports same-sex marriage.

You can read another analysis of the religious liberty law from Gabriel Malor, a gay conservative. Actually, I re-tweeted THREE gay conservatives who were in favor of the law yesterday (Gabriel Malor, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Gay Patriot).  This is not what you are hearing in the mainstream media, but is being used as a club to beat Christians into silence. And sadly, many younger evangelicals will respond to this and vote Democrat out of a lack of understanding of the issues.

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How to respond to complaints about Indiana’s new religious freedom law

Good news to start your day!

Good news to start your day!

First, the story, from the Daily Signal:

A bill known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act has been signed into law by the governor.

Supporters of Indiana Senate Bill 101 say that the law protects the free practice of religion, and opponents say the law will allow gay and lesbian individuals to be discriminated against.

For example, the law could permit business owners who felt that being forced to serve a certain customer in a particular case violated their religious beliefs to appeal to a judge. The courts would then decide if their objection was valid or not.

The bill was passed by the House 63-31 on Monday, and was approved by the Senate 40-10.

Gov. Mike Pence, R-Ind.,  approved the legislation today.

“Indiana is rightly celebrated for the hospitality, generosity, tolerance and values of our people, and that will never change,” Pence said in a statement. “Faith and religion are important values to millions of Hoosiers and with the passage of this legislation, we ensure that Indiana will continue to be a place where we respect freedom of religion and make certain that government action will always be subject to the highest level of scrutiny that respects the religious beliefs of every Hoosier of every faith.”

This is the key part:

Sarah Torre, a policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal that the bill is modeled off of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, which passed with bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

The federal law “prohibits substantial burdens on religious exercise unless the government can show a compelling interest in burdening religious liberty and does so through the least restrictive way possible,” said Torre. “Protections for religious freedom, like the one passed in Indiana, provide a commonsense way to balance the fundamental right to religious liberty with compelling government interests.”

Torre said that it’s important to note that the law “doesn’t allow individuals to do whatever they wish in the name of religion:”

“The law is simply a commonsense way of balancing government interests with the fundamental freedom of individuals to live out their faith. There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression—to ensure public safety, for instance. But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Such legislation at the state and federal level merely protects First Amendment rights, according to Torre.

“A robust conception of religious liberty provides every person the freedom to seek the truth, form beliefs, and live according to the dictates of his or her conscience—whether at home, in worship, or at work,” said Torre.

Torre added that 19 other states have similar laws.

And if that were not enough, here is an Indianapolis Star editorial from law professor at Indiana University School of Law – who supports same-sex marriage – who is in favor of Indiana passing the bill.

He writes:

I am a supporter of gay rights, including same-sex marriage. But as an informed legal scholar, I also support the proposed Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

[…]The bill would establish a general legal standard, the “compelling interest” test, for evaluating laws and governmental practices that impose substantial burdens on the exercise of religion. This same test already governs federal law under the federal RFRA, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. And some 30 states have adopted the same standard, either under state-law RFRAs or as a matter of state constitutional law.

[…]But granting religious believers legal consideration does not mean that their religious objections will always be upheld. And this brings us to the issue of same-sex marriage.

Under the Indiana RFRA, those who provide creative services for weddings, such as photographers, florists or bakers, could claim that religious freedom protects them from local nondiscrimination laws. Like other religious objectors, they would have their day in court, as they should, permitting them to argue that the government is improperly requiring them to violate their religion by participating (in their view) in a celebration that their religion does not allow.

But courts generally have ruled that the government has a compelling interest in preventing discrimination and that this interest precludes the recognition of religious exceptions. Even in the narrow setting of wedding-service providers, claims for religious exemptions recently have been rejected in various states, including states that have adopted the RFRA test. A court could rule otherwise, protecting religious freedom in this distinctive context. But to date, none has.

In any event, most religious freedom claims have nothing to do with same-sex marriage or discrimination. The proposed Indiana RFRA would provide valuable guidance to Indiana courts, directing them to balance religious freedom against competing interests under the same legal standard that applies throughout most of the land. It is anything but a “license to discriminate,” and it should not be mischaracterized or dismissed on that basis.

What the secular leftists in the media are saying is that the law gives religious people the right to reject any customer for any reason. Big businesses, which are overwhelmingly leftist, are also reacting the same way. The truth – as we saw above – is nothing like what the secular leftists are saying. The law is simply an echo of a federal law that already exists and was signed by Bill Clinton. Well done, Indiana. Well done, Republican legislators. Well done, Governor Mike Pence.

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Indiana legislators working on mandatory civics exam for high schoolers

Indiana is one of my favorite states, and here is some great news about Indiana.

Excerpt:

Hoosier lawmakers have joined a growing number of states that want your kid to take another exam. To graduate high school, students would have to pass an exam similar to the naturalization test required for immigrants to become U.S. citizens.

Still a work in progress, the bill will come up for debate during the upcoming legislative session and is being championed by Indiana Senate Education Chairman Dennis Kruse, a Republican of Auburn.

Kruse told The Daily Signal that he’s eager to see Indiana students rise to the same standard as individuals applying for American citizenship.

“I don’t know why our own young people—who are born citizens here, who go through our regular school system—shouldn’t know the same information,” Kruse said.

This is interesting:

The naturalization exam administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services requires a candidate to verbally answer 6 of 10 questions concerning American history and government. On average, 91 percent of candidates passon their first try.

The test requires citizenship candidates to answer basic questions like “What is the supreme law of the land?” and “What is the name of the president of the United States now?”

Hoosier high-school students would take a similar exam but with a few important differences. Required to answer 60 percent correctly, students would take a written, multiple choice, 100-question test.

So many people are focused on elections that they don’t know how to do anything about the culture. Well, I think this policy is going to have a good effect on the culture. If people can understand more about why the United States is organized the way it is, then maybe they will not be in such a hurry to undo it so we can be more like France (or even Greece, judging from the debt). Even making a requirement to teach basic economics and business administration would be good insulation for children against the fact-free, math-free world of leftism.

By the way, according to a report (PDF) by the Center for Education Reform web site, Indiana is number one for school choice in the USA:

The Hoosier State leads the country, with a universal voucher program open to all students across the state and no limit on the number of vouchers that can be awarded. The state has taken a varied approach to income-eligibility requirements, with the lowest-in-the-nation threshold for typical students, only increasing that threshold for special needs and failing-school students. The state is the second-worst in the country on infringing on private school autonomy, mandating such things as course content and insisting on allowing government observation of classes. With just a bit of reform in these two areas, Indiana would come close to reaching the maximum score possible.

Ohio and Wisconsin are right behind Indiana. Three of my favorite states.

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Good news: school choice victory in Indiana, pro-life victory in North Dakota

The Heritage Foundation reports.

Excerpt:

It’s hard to overstate what an outstanding victory for school choice Indiana’s Supreme Court issued yesterday.

Indiana’s highest court ruled unanimously in Meredith v. Pence that the Choice Scholarship Program (CSP), which provides vouchers to low-income and middle-income families in the Hoosier State, is constitutional. The suit, brought by the teachers unions, sought to end the country’s largest and most inclusive school voucher program.

Thankfully for the families currently participating in the CSP—and for the 600,000 children who are now eligible to receive scholarships to attend a private school that meets their unique learning needs—the court sided 5–0 with educational freedom. As the Institute for Justice’s Bert Gall notes that

the unions’ legal claims focused on two types of constitutional provisions that are common in most other state constitutions: 1) provisions requiring that states provide a “general and uniform” system of public education; and 2) provisions forbidding state support of religion.

With regard to requiring a uniform system of public education, Gall goes on to write that the court “showed that the duty to provide a ‘general and uniform’ system of public schools is not violated when a state provides educational options above and beyond the system.”

As for the provision prohibiting state support of religion, the court noted that

any benefit to program-eligible schools, religious or non-religious, derives from the private, independent choice of the parents of program-eligible students, not the decree of the state, and is thus ancillary and incidental to the benefit conferred on these families.

The Indiana ruling not only ends the challenge to the voucher program in the state, it is also an important victory for school choice and, as Gall put it, “solidifie[s] the growing body of case law supporting school choice and expose[s] the flaws in the teachers’ unions’ favorite legal claims.”

That’s good news for fiscal conservatives, but there was also good news for social conservatives last week – in North Dakota.

Excerpt:

If abortion proponents condemned 2011 as “the year of abortion restrictions… mark[ing] a sea change for abortion rights,” and 2012 as “an unmitigated disaster for abortion rights,” I can’t imagine what they will say about 2013.

In 2011 there were a record 92 pro-life laws enacted in the states, followed by the second highest number, 43, in in 2012. This year has already seen at least 14 pro-life bills become law, according toMailee Smith, Staff Counsel for Americans United for Life, so we are on track for another banner year.

But in 2013 we are not only seeing a high volume of typical pro-life legislative fare, we are seeing passage of pro-life legislation on steroids, the likes of which has never been observed in 40 years of legalized abortions throughout the U.S.

Yesterday, North Dakota adopted the “heartbeat” ban, which outlaws abortion once a baby’s heart tones can be detected, as early as six weeks. At the same time ND Governor Jack Dalrymple signed the first ever ban against eugenic abortions for fetal abnormalities or gender.

Bumped from the top spot, held only three weeks, was Arkansas, which on March 6 passed what was then an unprecedented ban on abortions after 12 weeks.

Just a week prior, Arkansas became the 10th* state to pass a ban on abortions after 20 weeks.

Then there’s the Personhood Amendment. On March 22 North Dakota became the first state to legislatively authorize a ballot initiative that would establish the right to life from the moment of conception.

All the more reason for sensible Americans to continue their mass emigration from leftist blue states to conservative red states.

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Indiana man saves his two children from drowning in icy pond

From WANE News in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Excerpt:

[S]amantha Buuck, 8, was walking behind her home when she ventured out onto the frozen pond. She fell through the ice and called for help. She was struggling to stay afloat. Her 12-year-old brother, Anthony, heard her calling for help and jumped into the water. He got to Samantha and started calling for help too.

The children’s father, Dale Buuck, heard the calls from inside their home. He ran to help and also went into the icy water. He was able to push Samantha and Anthony into shallower water. The conservation officers said Anthony was then able to get himself and Samantha out of the water. Anthony started to perform CPR on his sister until Dale got out of the water and took over. Anthony then called 911.

It’s estimated Samantha was under water for about two minutes. Paramedics transported Samantha to a hospital in critical condition. They were able to get her breathing back and she is expected to recover.

I think that the mother of those children made a good decision when she chose that man, because he can do the job of protecting the children. The government workers would never have got there in time, and that’s why it’s important that men be there and be effective in dealing with threats using their own judgment.

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