Credulity 101

Are the members of the churches in his network as ignorant and credulous as Eric Miller clearly thinks they are?

If so, it’s the most convincing evidence to date of the need to improve civics education.

As the Indianapolis Star has reported, Miller and his fellow culture-warrior Curt Smith are trying to rally their troops by claiming that, if HJR6 doesn’t pass, pastors who preach against homosexuality might be thrown in jail.

This, of course, is utter bullshit.

Although his willingness to tell humongous fibs does raise the possibility that Miller didn’t really graduate from an accredited law school (or listen to church lessons about bearing false witness), I’ve always presumed that he did, and that somewhere along the way he had to encounter the U.S. Constitution. The First Amendment–and specifically, the Free Exercise Clause–clearly allows pastors to preach whatever they believe without fear of punishment by big, bad government. (If bigotry from the pulpit were a criminal offense, a lot of racist pastors would be ministering from behind bars.)

The worst thing government can do to churches is revoke their tax-exempt status when they become too involved in partisan political campaigns–and the IRS has historically been loathe to impose even that penalty.

Miller’s other assertions are equally bogus. HJR6 would place a ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions in the Indiana Constitution.  The presence or absence of that ban would have absolutely no effect on merchants’ decisions about what customers to serve. A prohibition on discriminating against gay customers would only take effect if Indiana ever amended its state civil rights laws to include GLBT folks. Unless and until that happens, homophobic business owners remain free to refuse service to gay people, to fire people for being gay, and to refuse to hire people they suspect may be gay.

I’m not going to dignify the restroom accusation, except to point out that most public restrooms are used by one person at a time, and–don’t tell Miller–a lot of establishments today only have one facility for both men and women. I’ve never understood the Right’s hysteria over toilets.

Speaking of hysteria, these latest, patently ridiculous accusations are the latest sign that Miller and his merry band of culture warriors are getting pretty hysterical. They are not going softly or gracefully into the dustbin of history.

But hysterical or not, that’s where they’re going.