J.D. Ford, Mike Delph and the Social Contract

At a recent candidate forum, J.D. Ford–who is running against Mike Delph–made what should have been one of those “duh, yeah, we learned that in high school civics” observations: when businesses open their doors to the public, that constitutes an obligation to serve all members of that public.

There is a reciprocal relationship–a social contract– between business and government. The government (which collects taxes from everyone in its jurisdiction, no matter their race, religion or sexual orientation) uses those tax dollars to provide services. Those services are an essential infrastructure for the American businesses that must ship goods over publicly-financed roads, depend upon police and fire departments for safety, and (in some cities, at least) public transportation to bring workers and customers to their premises.

As Ford noted, business that want to discriminate– who want to pick and choose which members of the public they will serve–are violating that social contract. They want the services that are supported by the tax dollars of all segments of the public, but they don’t want to live up to their end of the bargain.

Where Ford (and I) see fundamental fairness, Mike Delph (surprise, surprise!) sees religious intolerance.

“I was saddened to hear him express such intolerance for those of us that hold deep religious conviction,” Delph told The Star. “Religious liberty is a fundamental American ideal.”

Let’s call this the bull*** that it is.

If your religious beliefs preclude you from doing business with gays, or Jews, or blacks, then don’t open a retail establishment. Don’t enter into a contract knowing that you will not honor its terms.

Religious liberty allows you to hold any beliefs you want. It allows you to preach those beliefs in the streets, and to refuse to socialize with people of whom you disapprove. You have the right to observe the rules of your particular religion in your home and church, and the government cannot interfere. But when you use religious beliefs–no matter how sincere–to disadvantage people who are entitled to expect equal treatment, when you use those beliefs as an excuse not to uphold your end of the social contract, that’s a bridge too far.

Mike Delph wants a government that favors (certain) religious beliefs, and gives adherents of (certain) religions a “pass” when they don’t follow the rules that apply to all of us.

I want Mike Delph out of Indiana government.


  1. Businesses who want to force their religious beliefs on employees should contract with each and every one of them to assure their religion is being followed by all who receive a paycheck from them. Isn’t this the original tactic used by Nazi’s which preceeded the Holocaust? Are these businesses concerned about religious or sexual preferences of the manufacturers who supply their products? We already know they share political beliefs and are aware there is no way to prevent their accessing public infrastructure. Regarding customers; they are currently accepting money for products from all who walk through their doors. If their beliefs are truely steeped in religion they should require a paid membership from customers who share and support their beliefs. But…they are aware of the fact that would cut profits extensively and soon put them out of business, leaving them with their religion and shared beliefs but much less money to buy politicians. I am not concerned with the religious, political or sexual preferences of businesses I patronize…except those who have flaunted their personal religious beliefs and been supported by elected politicians and SCOTUS who live on my tax dollars.

    I had kept my eye on Mike Delph a few years ago when he attempted to pass bills to cut back on employers who knowingly hired illegal immigrants at low pay to increase their profits and landlords who knowingly rented homes to them. It was an attempt to do something about the immigration problem which continues to be ignored, but was stopped primarily by another Republican, Jim Merritt. He also attempted to prevent skyrocketing student loan costs but was also voted down on that issue. He caved and then his religious beliefs took over his political campaign foundation. He is but one of many who are overriding our individual religious beliefs; the freedom of religion guaranteed to ALL by the 1st Amendment. Only those rights of Delph and his ilk are protected these days. If we do not take action on November 4th to begin clearing them out of government – we ain’t seen nothin’ yet! The GOP has many more surprises and Bible thumping protection of their rights in the future for us. I have said it before and will say it again; I have often been afraid FOR my country but never before been afraid OF my country regarding loss of my civil and human rights till now.

  2. My idea of religion is that it’s a connection to the rest of humanity at least, in some case to all of life if not worship of the entire universe and everything in it. God’s creation.

    Apparently I’m wrong. To some it’s more like rooting for the home team.

    I have a hard time respecting institutions based on that tail gate party level of profundity.

  3. Do you remember when Church was just in Church? They used to keep all the crazy behind closed doors. Now they are “OUT”. Please go back in the closet church people.

  4. This extreme jusdgementalism in the name of religion is precisely why so many of us who attended church while growing up have left in recent years. In 2012 the denomination of the church that I had attended for 13 years decided it was imperative that they make a judgement about whether or not to accept homosexuals. Unfortunately, they decided not to. Shortly thereafter, I found out that the church I grew up in and attended for more than 40 years had made the same decision. While I am not gay, I do not believe that I (or anyone else) have the right to pass judgement on them. I cannot accept how these supposedly “Christian” people can condemn people that don’t hurt anyone and yet accept many terrible behaviors of other people (i.e. adulterers, thieves, etc.). Ultimately, I made the choice to pass judgement on these churches and chose not to associate with them anymore. I can not support their “un-Christian” behavior.

  5. Jesus was right on when he told people not to be judgmental, lest they be judged with the same standards. They want to set themselves up as judges, the rest of humanity will do the same for them. Being judgmental is an equal opportunity enterprise in that it tends to come back to bite you.

    Oh yes, its time to see the usual suspects, spewing their irrational garbage: Delph, Rokita and others. Happy Halloween! And there are people who actually think these guys are just great.

  6. But Stuart; there is a difference between being judgemental and making a judgement (decision), these judgements are facing us in next Tuesday’s election. The GOP is judgemental in denying civil and human rights to those who do not adhere to the same religious beliefs they spout daily. We MUST make the judgement to do our best to vote them out to protect ourselves from their judgemental running of this country. No judgement is a judgement, no decision is a decision, and no vote is a vote supporting the status quo. Many people do not understand the difference so they complain but sit and do nothing. This helped the GOP gain the takeover in 2010; we must undo it in 2014, this election is a preview of and a stepping-stone to 2016.

  7. The Rabid Religious Reactionaries are doing their best to take Ford’s comments to their usual extreme. I would not expect and the State does not compel an Indian Restaurant to serve beef, or a Middle Eastern or Jewish Deli to serve me pork. Personally, I do not need Moses, Jesus, or Mohammed to tell me how to live. Further, I do not need Popes, Priests, Ministers, Rabbis or Imams to translate the Bible or Koran for me to justify their own opinions on what these books say.

    Perhaps Delph, Pence and the rest of his Bible thumping friends in the Indiana Legislature can convene hearings and choose which Religion or sect is the correct path to the Creator, after all they cannot all be correct.

    The State does allow some recognition of Religious Beliefs by granting a Consciousness Objector status for military service. However, this does not mean these C.O.’s can with hold a part of their taxes to protest our War Machine.

    A retail store open to the Public does not have the Right to refuse me service or sell me a product because of my race, ethnic background, sexual preference or religion.

  8. So your belief is that religious beliefs are ok as long as those beliefs arekept in the home and kept in the church and don’t go out in public? That’s never been how the Free Exercise Clause has been interpreted. JD Ford wants to sanction religious discrimination for unpopular religious views. I can’t believe you would defend that extreme and unconstitutional position.

  9. I think that Sheila’s typically well made point is that businesses exist under a social contract that allows them to use all of our stuff, public infrastructure, as long as they serve all of us who own that stuff. They can’t use our stuff but exclude some of us from their service.

    Makes sense to me.

  10. There are some churches which welcome everyone AND support responsible care of all God’s creations including our planet. St. Luke’s United Methodist (at 100 W. 86th St., Indy) is one of them but certainly not the only one. That welcome mat to all comers has helped make St. Luke’s the largest United Methodist church north of the Mason-Dixon line.

    St. Luke’s has a long history of leadership in the city to welcome all races, all faiths, all sexual orientations, all political persuasions, those of all income levels, and those with and without disabilities. Unfortunately those who work to build bridges don’t make headlines. Bridge-building is sometimes hard to do, but St. Luke’s tries hard to do it.

  11. The social contract includes churches; they and their members need to start overtly respecting and accepting that not everyone believes as they do, and more importantly, not everone needs to believe as they do. What I think or believe doesn’t make their world any better or worse for them. Us atheists usually don’t run around spreading the word of no-god, so why don’t they respect our intelligence and our opinions? And, stop trying to legislate in god’s name.

  12. Oh come on Paul – JD Ford does NOT want to “sanction religious discrimination for unpopular religious views”.
    Your religious views are welcome in public, but if your religious views go so far that you choose “not to do business with (fill-in-the-blank) class of people” then you better be prepared to deal with your own emergencies, because you never know if the firefighter or EMT or emergency room doctor you encounter in the public domain might be one of those people you have a religious objection to doing business with.
    On the other hand, if your religious beliefs demand that you discriminate against people as a service provider, but allow you to do business with the same people when you are a service consumer, then your religion is nothing but an excuse for hypocrisy. The social contract goes both ways.

  13. Full disclosure: I’m a lesbian, so I’ve been on the receiving end of the current incantation of Us v Them being waged in society.

    I must admit I’m torn on this issue. While I agree that a business that is open to the public should be open to ALL members of the public, I don’t want the dollars that I spend somewhere supporting someone that is actively working to deny my rights.

    I guess I would prefer that the establishment be required to bake my wedding cake if I were silly enough to have someone who hates me make my food, but also required to have a sign that specifies they don’t want to make my gay cake so I can avoid them. Just because something is the right thing doesn’t always mean it is the best or most practical.

    Life would be so much simpler if it were black and white, but it’s not, and, at least for me, this is one of those areas that is the greyest of greys.

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