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The Religious Freedom Restoration Act

posted Apr 1, 2015, 10:51 AM by First Baptist


Last Thursday, the governor of Indiana signed into law the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).


The signing produced a tidal wave of opposition, including large-scale protests and calls for a boycott of Indiana. The NCAA has weighed in (the Final Four is being held in Indianapolis), and so have a number of business leaders, politicians and celebrities.


Their concern is that the law provides “a license to discriminate against gays.”


First, a little perspective might be in order:


1.      Indiana’s law is a virtual copy of a federal law that has been in effect since 1993. The federal law passed the House unanimously and the Senate by a vote of 97 to 3. The Senate version was sponsored by Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, one of the country’s most liberal senators. The bill was then signed into law, with much fanfare, by President Bill Clinton.


2.      Currently, 19 other states have a law similar to Indiana’s. Another 9 states have state court rulings that provide RFRA-like protection. Thus, Indiana is simply joining the majority of other states in adopting this manner of protection for religious expression.


Now, about the law itself. As you read the following (and please read it carefully), ask yourself: What American can possibly disagree with this?


“A government entity may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if the governmental entity demonstrates that application of the burden to the person: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.”


In summary, the government must have a REALLY GOOD REASON in order to substantially limit a person’s exercise of religion. Shouldn’t that be a no-brainer? Evidently, those who oppose RFRA believe the government doesn’t need a good reason to substantially limit a person’s religious liberty. That’s scary!


Imagine a wedding photographer declines on religious grounds to be the photographer for a gay wedding ceremony. In some jurisdictions, the photographer can be fined and put out of business. RFRA SIMPLY ALLOWS THE PHOTOGRAPHER TO CONTEST THE FINE IN A COURT OF LAW. In said court, the government must prove a compelling interest in requiring said photographer to go against his/her religious convictions. The RFRA law in no way guarantees the court will side with the photographer; it only gives the photographer his/her day in court.


What is going on here? I think a commentator on FOX News said it well: The pro-gay lobby won the gay marriage debate. They won. Gay marriage will soon be legal in all 50 states. But now the pro-gay lobby is walking around the battlefield shooting the wounded (those who lost the debate). Who are the wounded? Evangelical Christians and conservative Catholics. We are the last holdouts and must be dealt with.


Get ready for our religious liberties to be sharply curtailed.



Pastor Dan