RFRA, Language, WorldViews

A couple of days ago, a group of Indiana Pastors gathered at the Statehouse to deliver a long letter accusing the Governor and legislators of “betrayal” for amending RFRA to include a modicum of civil rights protections for LGBT Hoosiers.

I encourage readers to click through and read the letter in its entirety, because it is a (rather chilling) window into a world in which words like “liberty” mean something very different from their meaning in the world I inhabit.

This “fixed” RFRA legislation has opened the door to a trampling of our liberties….You received godly counsel from strong and knowledgeable leaders from across our nation who encouraged you to stand strong and to veto this legislation. You failed. In doing so, you betrayed the trust of millions of Hoosiers who elected you to protect the liberties we hold dear….

You state that you are committed to an Indiana where religious rights and individual rights coexist in harmony. While this sounds wonderful, we all know that the demands of the LGBT lobby make this untenable with those who profess faith in Christ and faithfulness to the Scriptures. It was clear from the press conference that the next “discussion” will involve the creation of sexual orientation and gender identity as a special protected class in Indiana. Leadership from the gay community told all who were listening that this will become a reality in Indiana….

God’s Word is very clear about the proper expression of human sexuality, and homosexuality is one of a variety of sexual behaviors God expressly condemns. For Christians, therefore, sexual sins can never be treated as civil rights.

There is much, much more.

Let me be clear: drawing a line between the right of people to the free exercise of their belief systems–no matter how foreign or even repugnant those beliefs may be to other Americans–and the civil rights of their fellow citizens is not simple, nor is the placement of that line uncontested. The Pastors’ letter highlights a consistent and probably unavoidable tension in an America that values both liberty and equality.

That said, the letter vividly demonstrates the worldview of would-be theocrats who believe they speak for God– who believe they have the right to demand laws that privilege their beliefs and impose them on everyone else, and who believe that failure to occupy that privileged legal position victimizes them.

This is the worldview of the Taliban.


  1. Those Indiana Pastors haven’t the vaguest notion of our basic civil and human rights as protected by the U.S. Contitution and Amendments or the Indiana Constitution. They are “blinded by the light” of their own religious fervor and do not understand that there are many more religions than Christian followed by many millions, not only in this state, but around the country and around the world. They do not see the difference between the actual religions and extremists and terrorists who claim to be religious. We may not agree with other religions but…we must accept them as the rights of others. These Pastors DEMAND the rest of Indiana accept their religion as the only acceptable religion. I had to laugh at their reference to “millions of Hoosiers” who voted for Pence; he received fewer votes than Glenda Ritz whose elected rights he has trampled on since she took office. She is now fighting Pence on his own level;) Should be an interesting situation.

    Your reference to the “worldview of the Taliban” brought me to the book I am reading, “When Men Become Gods”; the well researched and written account of Warren Jeffs, self-appointed Prophet of Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints. He is still leading thousands of FLDS congregants from prison; his leadership has been compared with the Taliban in it’s total control of every aspect of their lives…exactly what these Indiana Pastors and Pence are attempting to do. I am sure the Pastors are fully in favor of the school voucher system with all students required to study the religion classes in the majority of voucher schools. They do not have to particpate in prayers but are being brainwashed in the classes.

    As a Christian, I have wondered for many years how and why the Christian religion has been forcing it’s views on others for centuries, sending missionaries around the world. The majority of rules and demands they have been forcing on us recently, some by enacting laws, are found in the Old Testament which is basically the history of the Jewish religion. Do they even know this? Do they know that Jesus, a Jew and a Rabbi, brought a new word to all people? Do they see Pope Francis attempting to bring a new word to the Catholic religion and bring them into the 21st Century? My Christian beliefs are based on love and acceptance; not hellfire and damnation of others who have different beliefs. This includes Atheists who are not anti-religion; they disagree with creationism and rely on scientific facts (even those that change over time) and evolution. Today’s blog also brings to mind the title of yesterday’s, “We don’t care what the evidence says…”

  2. By the way, after reading this letter, do 70% of you still feel safe sitting home in a sulking, solipsistic, stew and not voting, “…because I’m making a statement.”

  3. Phil; could these Indiana Pastors possibly be referring to those “millions of Hoosiers” who elected Pence be those who sat at home and did NOT vote?

  4. Stupid People + Holy Books = trouble
    All over the world
    When will we grow up as a nation?

  5. “For Christians, therefore, sexual sins can never be treated as civil rights.”

    That’s true. For the devout, homosexual marriage is a zero sum game. Religious liberty is enshrined in the Constitution. Forcing the religious to recognize homosexual marriage tramples all over their First Amendment rights.

    Being homosexual can be a civil right, because it imposes on nobody else. Homosexual “marriage,” however, does impose religious costs on the faithful and runs headlong into the First Amendment.

    We are discussing novel views of the world that have only come into existence yesterday and are conflicting with 40,000 years of human history.

    “This is the worldview of the Taliban.”

    And mainstream Islam, and Christianity and both Orthodox and Sephardic Judaism and Zoroastrianism (which is where most of the Torah came from). Religion is, more often than not, going to be opposed to homosexuality.

  6. Gopper; all marriages, whether performed by a religious leader or not, requires a legal document, signed by all autorities and filed with the state where the marriage takes place. Licensed religious leaders have the same legal authority to sign marriage licenses as do a Justice-of-the-Peace who can also perform marriages. A Justice-of-the-Peace can administer justice in minor legal cases; a duly licensed religious leader can not. Beth White, Clerk of the Court in Marion County performs marriages, she performed many same-sex marriages. My marriage performed by my neighborhood minister in the Union Congregational Church was no more valid than my marriage performed by the Lawrence Township Justice-of-the-Peace; both required the same LEGAL document. There was no religion involved in my marriage ceremony in the Lawrence Township Government Building.

    Marriage may be a religious ceremoney but it is not a requirement, the legal document is a requirement as is filing it with the proper state office. Marriage is a legal action requiring a legal document but does not require any religious element. So…how has religion managed to legally place it’s personal views into a legal action and how has the legal action managed to become controled by a religious faction with no legal authority? Religious authorities should, and do, have the right to refuse to perform marriage ceremonies for a vast number of reasons but it seems only to be the same-sex issue that is being fought in local, state and federal courts. Serial rapists and murderers are allowed to be married while in prison; many with no chance of release from prison. One of the commenters recently made the point that, if sodomy is still against the law in some areas, there are legally married men and women using this practice – are they to be arrested? Should their marriages be annulled? I am blathering on and on hopng you will pick up on the ridiculousness of this entire same-sex marriage never-ending battle – both religous and legal.

  7. There were a lot of high fives (figuratively speaking) from the so called and self styled Religious Community when Pence signed the original RFRA Legislation.

    The Indiana Pastors Alliance say it very clearly – “When Christian business owners refuse to participate in homosexual weddings, something most Christians consider to be a mockery of the sacred institution of marriage, they are not extended tolerance. To the contrary, they are vilified, threatened, attacked, and fined into submission by a sympathetic state that has foolishly exchanged our God-given, First Amendment rights for sexual license.”

    The gist of this, a Christian Business should be allowed to discriminate. They use homosexual weddings but what else could they use as an excuse to discriminate?? Could a Christian Plumber refuse to work for a Gay Person. Could a clerk in store refuse to sell birth medications, liquor, or tobacco products also??? Could the “Christian” choose to with hold selling a product or service???
    Here is thing- The Bible that the Pastors point to has the following::
    Abraham of the Old Testament married his half sister Sarah. Sarah and Abraham had son Isaac. This same Abraham was told to sacrifice Isaac. Just as Abraham was ready to slit Isaac’s throat God stopped Abraham. A blood sacrifice of a ram was made instead. – Would this type of marriage be permitted under Indiana Law?? Furthermore should our Police stand down if a Father decided to murder his son, because only the Father heard a voice that it was OK to kill his son??

    Then this – Joshua is supposedly told by God – Deuteronomy “However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes.” “Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the LORD your God.” – So Mass Murder is OK.

    Also God plants his seed in Mary, who is by the way married. She has a son Jesus who has as his destiny to be Crucified. -Another Blood Sacrifice.

    Seems like God has violated a few of his own commandments – Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors goods or wife, and Thou shalt not kill.

    These items above from the Bible are what we supposed base our Civil Laws on according to the Pastors???

  8. “Rights” is such a missunderstood and sloppily used word. To simplify all of that let’s define it for this discussion as the freedom to act in ways that do not impose what’s best for you on others. The government could violate your rights but so could any individual. A robber for instance who breaks into your home and steals, abridges your right to posses your stuff. He’s imposing what he wants, your stuff, on you. The government is upholding your right to own stuff by making robbery a crime and enforcing that law.

    There are LGBT folks and they are full citizens with the same rights as the rest of us. They have the right to their lifestyle no less than Mike Huckabee has to live his. They impose nothing on those who are not LGBT.

    On the other hand Mike Huckabee would like to impose his beliefs on them. He would like to ostracize them for being who they are.

    The reason why he wants to is irrelevant. That he wants to and acts on that is the reason why he is the threat to our rights not they.

  9. Frankly, it is clear to me that the Supreme Court has been infringing upon religious liberty ever since they overturned anti-miscegenation laws. So let’s correct that problem and arrest Clarence Thomas, since his marriage would have been a crime in Virginia if the court hadn’t overstepped its authority. Then we can start in on jailing remarried Catholics for bigamy and go on from there. Of course, polygamy needs to be made legal, as that is clearly the biblical view (not to mention the early LDS church).

  10. “So…how has religion managed to legally place it’s personal views into a legal action and how has the legal action managed to become controled by a religious faction with no legal authority?”

    You were more or less staying on the road until you crashed into the jagged cliff face with this tangle of bad history and logical fallacies. if you’re using this as a premise for a later conclusion, clean it up. You won’t get agreement on this to proceed to further discussion.

  11. “The gist of this, a Christian Business should be allowed to discriminate. ”

    What’s the difference between what you call “discriminate” and what the business world calls “choosing your market?”

    Pull your loaded language out, and try again. You can’t presume to have a serious discussion with conclusory and loaded terms.

  12. ““Rights” is such a missunderstood and sloppily used word. To simplify all of that let’s define it for this discussion as the freedom to act in ways that do not impose what’s best for you on others. ”

    Definition not accepted. That is most certainly not an acceptable definition of “rights.”

    This fellow makes a credible explanation of the concept.


  13. When I discuss this topic with people who hold these beliefs, I ask them to insert Muslim in place of the Christian beliefs they want the government to uphold, and to ask themselves if they still think this is the proper role of government. I ask them to apply this to school prayer, religious emblems on government property, prayer before legislative sessions, etc.. The answer is obvious. I have a Jewish friend who was punished when he refused to bow his head during grace before lunch at school many years ago. His parents complained to the school board, and their complaint went nowhere. That was a long time ago and it wouldn’t happen today, but the teachers and school board didn’t understand there was a problem at the time. We know that Pence and the Republican Legislators pander to the religious right for donations and votes, and that their so-called respect for religion vanishes when it conflicts with the superior power they really worship, which is money. RFRA exposed them for what they really are.

  14. Well, since the general office of the NFL can start paying taxes, those churches can too. Remove their tax exempt status as they are playing in politics and therefore, no longer protected by their ‘religious’ beliefs. Done.

  15. Gopper I can think of many people who would be glad to point out the flaws in your theory of natural rights. Me for instance.

    I don’t believe that anyone has a natural right to steal my stuff and I would have no trouble at all with a government who would deprive a person who stole to a period of time without the rights that honest people enjoy.

    Also I believe that if you spoke to an ISIS prisoner and pointed out “no worries Mate you still have your natural rights” you’d find disagreement.

    There is nothing natural about rights. In fact probably more humans than not have lived lives with very few rights because they weren’t lucky enough to be born in places where their predecessors were willing to give up even their right to live so that they could live free (with full rights).

    Rights are earned by blood sweat and tears not platitudes.

  16. “I don’t believe that anyone has a natural right to steal my stuff”

    Did you even read the literature before posting? Your comment displays a complete lack of understanding of any presentation of natural rights.

  17. The thing that burns me up is having to pick up their tax tab while they boss the rest of us. It’s like a bully complaining (this is for you, GOPPER) that his fist hurts from punching you. So much tax money now goes to these jerks. I say bring back the lions.

  18. God spoke to me this morning and She told me that the Gay community can live anyway they desire and that we should stand against those religious right wing people who think that they are doing her work.

  19. Sheila; does it seem to you that Pence’s RFRA law and the “fix” have released pent up anger, frustrations and hostilities in your readers and is being reflected in our comments? Not only content but the number of comments and ensuing disagreements and back-and-forth dialogues? If only all of this energy could be harnessed and used to bring needed enlightenment and change where it is needed most, we could accomplish much. For the most part we are “preaching to the choir” and we are the choir members.

  20. If Christians were to enforce the rules laid down by God regarding homosexual activity.
    undertakers would be overwhelmed.

  21. and that would only be the tip of the iceberg if all other sex sins were treated the same way.

  22. Gopper. In fact I did read your reference. My previous post accurately portrayed my reaction to it.

    Your article seemed focused on a hunter gatherer family tribe which humans vacated about 10,000 years ago. For good reason. Trying to resurrect it with over 7B people in a world running out of resources is just plain silly.

    Even the Amazonian primitives have moved beyond.

  23. Sheila doesn’t even mention how preposterous the pastors were when one of them invoked Dietrich Boenhoffer and claimed that their partly losing the RFRA fight to that courageous churchman losing his life to the Nazis. I’m no fan of the Star’s Tim Swarens, but he did a great job in calling them on that one.

  24. The flip side of natural rights is you can have any right you like that you can hold. From this pic only organized groups hold and grant rights.

    We’ve evolved a form of government that balances rights of one vs many and rights to vs rights from and rights in conflict. Of course it’s imperfect but the price of living here, under this government, among these people is a willingness to not only abide by legal adjudication but to compromise in order to not be threatened by strongman tactics and continual war.

    It’s absurd for someone unencumbered by belief in
    a deity as one who is as they have only an obligation to attempt seeing each other’s pov. So far the theocrats have held sway but their intransigence has cost them dearly. You cannot ignore the vast numbers of church attendees who oppose the more conservative and continue to claim to unified belief.

    Further, as the gap widen between the anti-civil, anti-rights and belligerent bigotry is observable in such pitifully outlandish ways the flock dwindles.

    We are seeing the collapse of the charade of the phobic authoritarian and it reveals an unenticing picture of controlling, manipulative and entitled powers blatantly hanging on to a worldview that fails to acknowledge reality. That human beings are substantially the same regardless of who and how they sexually engage. That homosexuality is found throughout nature and is no more wrong than breathing. That all people desire some area of autonomy free from the overreaches of those who would deny them that which the grant themselves, namely freedom to know their own minds and hearts.

    This isn’t anti religious. It’s several religions opportunity to reset its compass and come to its senses.

    The consequences of failure is to be ignored if not made entirely impotent.

  25. The old testament is the history book for Christianity; it is Judaism of old, not how Jesus wanted us to live our lives. Learning history is ok but let us not utilize the other religion, no-longer-practiced in many regards even by Jews, and call it Christianity. Christianity is the new way of life that Jesus defined and a new religion was created to do so. We only weaken our religion by supplanting Christianity with the history book of Judaism.

  26. These Christians give this Christian a bad name. I never thought homosexuality was a sin. I read the Old Testament that supposedly talks about it and never got the same impression. For me it is simple, I can’t imagine a God creating a child where upon their birth they are homosexual and thus ‘damned’ to hell as soon as the cord is cut. I often heard in Church that God knew you before you were born. I just can’t imagine that if you believe God created all baby’s and thus created the hetero as well as the homosexual child that the homosexual child is condemned at birth, thus I don’t see it as a sin.

Comments are closed.