May 21

There are no Christians supporting Donald John Trump, Part I

Quite a claim, I know. And I am sure to get some angry responses.

But the fact is that Trump stands against everything Jesus stood for. He is a con artist who has convinced the religious right that he is the exact opposite of what he actually is.

Let’s compare Trump’s statements with those from the Bible.

  1. “When someone crosses you, my advice is ‘Get even!’ That is not typical advice, but it is real-life advice. If you do not get even, you are just a schmuck! When people wrong you, go after those people, because it is a good feeling and because other people will see you doing it. I love getting even. I get screwed all the time. I go after people, and you know what? People do not play around with me as much as they do with others. They know that if they do, they are in for a big fight. Always get even. Go after people that go after you. Don’t let people push you around. Always fight back and always get even. It’s a jungle out there, filled with bullies of all kinds who will try to push you around. If you’re afraid to fight back people will think of you as a loser, a ‘schmuck!’ They will know they can get away with insulting you, disrespecting you, and taking advantage of you. Don’t let it happen! Always fight back and get even.” (Trump: Think Big, 2007)

    compared to
    Matthew 5:43-48

    43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

    44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

    45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

    46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

    47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

    48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

    Simply put, Trump is pro-revenge. Jesus is anti-revenge.

  2. “I will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me –and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.” – Donald Trump, June 2015

    compared to
    Matthew 22:39

    39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

    Simply put, Trump is anti-neighbor, and Jesus says to love one’s neighbor as one’s self.

  3. “I’m putting people on notice that are coming here from Syria as part of this mass migration, that if I win, they’re going back!” – Donald Trump, October 2015

    compared to
    Matthew 25:31-45

    31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

    32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

    33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

    34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

    35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

    36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

    37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

    38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

    39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

    40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

    41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

    42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

    43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

    44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

    45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

    Trump is against refugees. This contradicts the words of Jesus.

To be continued…

November 19

Year and a Day

It’s been a year and a day since my ex-wife Cynthia Lee passed away from colon cancer.

It has been an eventful year. Our child is now fifteen. The situation with them is complex and I won’t go deeply into details here.
I spent just over three months in rehab after we found out I had cracked my tibia and lost a lot of the cartilage in my left knee. Went from being stuck in my recliner to being able to transfer to my wheelchair and get out of our apartment.

An apartment, by the way, that is not the one I left from when I went to rehab. While I was there, my lovely wife moved us, lock, stock, and barrel to a nice new place. I can get into the kitchen more easily, and even leave the building when I need to!

It’s been a bit more than a week after the election. Being on Medicare, being disabled, and having a non-binary teen made the results not just disappointing, but frightening to our family. The eldest wants to leave the country, and I don’t blame them as I have watched the train wreck that is the Trump administration take shape.

I shouldn’t get to deep on an update post, so I won’t.

Our bunny is happy and healthy, our vehicle is functional, my wife will celebrate her eleventh year at her work soon. Things are okay for the most part. Will post something more detailed soon.

September 20

Why Donald Trump is Not Adolph Hitler

After listening to the Republican debates, watching some of the speeches given by Donald Trump, and reading a bit about his platform and position, I began to worry about the direction his campaign was going. It seemed very familiar. It was a page out of Germany of the 1930s, or so I at first thought. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that the comparison was unfair and inaccurate. Here are some of the things I realized that made things now different from Hitler’s rise to power.

  1. First, Hitler did not come from wealth. His father tried his hand at farming, and, failing that, started a career in the customs bureau. Trump’s father was financial success, a real estate developer. Where Hitler had to deal with the death of his siblings at a young age, Trump’s siblings are also all successful. One is even a federal judge. Although both seemed to clash with their fathers, young Adolph rebelled and when his father died, it steeled his resolve. Trump, on the other hand, bent to the will of his father, who sent him to a military school.
    Adolph grew up on orphan benefits, where Trump was smack in the crotch of luxury. Latching on to German Nationalism to help form his identity and ingratiate him with his peers, Adolph grew to love his adopted country of Germany (He was Austrian, originally), even serving in the German military in World War I. Trump avoided the draft in a variety of ways, and never served.
    In other words, their backgrounds were stunningly different. Adolph, who wanted to be an artist, didn’t have the talent for it and failed. If Trump had any creative desires, they were buried under his desire for money, and he made his first million before he even left college. Of course, the half million dollar investment from his parents helped. Adolph’s parents were dead by the time he was 18.
  2. The environment of post-World War I Germany and the present day United States could not be more different. Germany was in an economic free-fall, brought on by a devastated economy due to war reparations and horribly managed, well, everything by the German government. Hitler joined a small political party, and energized its young members to grow to eventually take over the government, blaming much of the ills of Germany on the Jews.
    Trump, on the other hand, has latched on to the Republican party, literally called the “Grand Old Party”, and allied himself with the racist base of the party, blaming non-whites for the ills facing the country. The problem is that the United States isn’t a country in economic free-fall, not really. We’re solidly on the road to recovery from the mismanagement at the hands of the last GOP president. So, instead of a single propaganda front (It’s the Jews fault our economy is broken!), Trump has to make up his propaganda from whole cloth (Our economy is bad, really it is! And it’s the immigrants fault! And the Muslims!). In addition, in Germany, the real problem was multifaceted, from harsh war reparations to poor economic management by the Weimar Republic. In the US, the problem was lack of regulation of the banking industry which led to risky and ultimately disastrous  investment strategies.
  3. Germany was a country that had lost its core identity. They had lost a war, they had lost their government (It was less than a decade and a half since their government had fallen to revolution), their economy was in the toilet, and they needed direction. Hitler arrived with a fiery energy and revitalized the nation. Of course, he also had a scapegoat to blame, and the country set off on one of the most recognized genocides in world history.
    America, on the other hand, is sharply divided, but the core identity remains intact. Yes, there are issues which polarize our people, from marriage equality to abortion, but we can go out to the market and buy a loaf of bread without needing a wheelbarrow of cash, the rich are still rich, the trains are still running, and we don’t have any black eyes from lost wars any time in the recent past. We are still Americans.

So, even if he thinks he is using Adolph’s playbook, the board is not set for the same type of game, so I do not think Trump will get the same kind of result.

August 6

Romancing Israel

Nearly twenty years ago, I met a man who became my best friend. An apatheist, late atheist, he was bright, talented, although a bit unfocused, he helped me get through a significant and horrible series of events in my life that changed me forever.

After I returned to the Midwest from the west coast, he was able to track me down and we continued our friendship. We did business together, as we were both in software development.

My friend was of Jewish descent. When his son was born, I helped him get together a minion for the son’s bris. He wasn’t religious, but it was important to him culturally.

I frankly thought we would be close friends for the rest of our lives. During the wild days after my divorce, several things happened that began to drive a wedge between us.

I am filling you in with the back story because I need to give you some perspective on what just happened.

After years bemoaning the nuttiness of his father, a far right wing rabbi, my friend suddenly shifted. He started defending Israel to the point of, well, saying some bizarre things. His political bent shifted radically right, and he started blaming liberals for hate crimes against Jews. I have my theories as to why, but this is not really about him. This is about some of the underlying misconceptions he has come under the influence of, and I think it’s time to let the air out of the Conservative love fest that is built on some very dangerous lies. Continue reading

July 31

Reasons why abortion is not murder, a primer for Christians

There has been a lot of press recently about the attacks made against Planned Parenthood, both by video, by hackers, and by politicians.

I thought I would make an attempt to clear up some confusion some Christians have about the issue, namely, the simple phrase, “Abortion is murder!”

It’s not. Legally, scientifically, and, yes, even from a Biblical standpoint.

I know what you may be thinking, “But, Aaron, you’re an atheist, how can you possibly know what the Bible says about abortion/dare to interpret my holy book/read the Bible without bursting into flames?”

I can read/I have nothing to fear but the opinions of Christians/you’re thinking of a magical realm of sorcery, not reality.

So, let’s start with the legal reason, first.

  1. Legally

    Legal issues come down, in many cases, to the definition of words. Some words have very clear legal definitions. Murder is one of those words. Let’s go to law.com for our definition (emphasis added by me):

    murder

    n. the killing of a human being by a sane person, with intent, malice aforethought (prior intention to kill the particular victim or anyone who gets in the way) and with no legal excuse or authority. In those clear circumstances, this is first degree murder. By statute, many states consider a killing in which there is torture, movement of the person before the killing (kidnapping) or the death of a police officer or prison guard, or it was as an incident to another crime (as during a hold-up or rape), to be first degree murder, with or without premeditation and with malice presumed. Second degree murder is such a killing without premeditation, as in the heat of passion or in a sudden quarrel or fight. Malice in second degree murder may be implied from a death due to the reckless lack of concern for the life of others (such as firing a gun into a crowd or bashing someone with any deadly weapon). Depending on the circumstances and state laws, murder in the first or second degree may be chargeable to a person who did not actually kill, but was involved in a crime with a partner who actually did the killing or someone died as the result of the crime. Example: In a liquor store stick-up in which the clerk shoots back at the hold-up man and kills a bystander, the armed robber can be convicted of at least second degree murder. A charge of murder requires that the victim must die within a year of the attack. Death of an unborn child who is “quick” (fetus is moving) can be murder, provided there was premeditation, malice and no legal authority. Thus, abortion is not murder under the law. Example: Jack Violent shoots his pregnant girlfriend, killing the fetus. Manslaughter, both voluntary and involuntary, lacks the element of malice aforethought.

    Read more: http://dictionary.law.com/default.aspx?selected=1303#ixzz3hTZvn7NU

    Note, this definition specifically touches on the point I was going to make. I didn’t actually realize it until I read through it, but I will attempt to explain further, just to clarify.

    Abortion is not murder, legally, because abortion is legal. In order for it to be murder, it would need to be illegal.

  2. Scientifically, let’s discuss the term “human being.”

    Imagine Vitruvius. He is an average human being in every way. For sake of brevity, I’ll refer to him as V.

    So, we cut off V’s arms. Is he still human? Yes.

    Next, his legs. Still human? A bit difficult for him to do traditional gymnastics, but, yes, still human.

    How much of V do we need to remove in order for him to stop being “human”? Is it his heart? Then people who have had artificial hearts are no longer human? Is it some other organ? Lungs, pancreas, liver, stomach, intestines, kidneys? Nope, all of those have been able to be replaced. Is it his face? So, people who have been severely injured facially are no longer human? Eyes?

    Okay, enough gruesome vivisection. *waves magic wand and reassembles V to go on his merry way*

    The brain, which stores the sum of all of the experiences a person has gone through in their life, isn’t even it. There have been cases of severe brain trauma and birth defects that have either badly damaged the brain or, in some very rare cases, ended up with people who have no brain. There was a math student who had an I.Q. of 126 who had no physical brain.

    So, what is it? Many people would say “soul” but no soul has ever been found scientifically, so we can nix that. Well, sort of. Let me ask a different question.

    What is Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony? Is it the paper and ink where the notes are printed? Is it the musicians and instruments playing the piece? Of course not. It is the music, the pattern of notes played in a specific order and in a specific way.

    My conjecture is that a “human being” is the pattern of experiences and thoughts, carried out through the physical processes of life. We are, in essence, the sum of our experiences and translated through our brain (or other structure serving that purpose). Some might call that the soul, but, like the music in a symphony, once the instruments and at rest and the performance is over, that symphony does not continue to exist on its own. It requires a medium in which to exist, whether paper and ink, magnetic tape, or in a digital format. It also exists in the memory of the people who heard the performance. The same can be said of humans when they die.

    Back to the topic of abortion. Hypothetically speaking, if my conjecture is true, it is not a human being until birth, possibly not until permanent memories begin to form between two and three years. Oddly enough, that’s the Bible’s standpoint as well. But, I will get into that in the next section.

    When the case was brought before the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, a specific moment a fetus went from human tissue to human being had to be set. So, they did made the most sense: they set it to the average point where the brain is functional and the fetus can be removed from the mother’s body and survive. This is good enough for me and most pro-choice people. It is more conservative than the Biblical view, but it works with today’s understanding of physiology.

  3. The Biblical Perspective

    Let’s start with Exodus 21:22-25.

    22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.
    23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,

    24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,

    25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

    So, according to the law, abortion as a side effect of violence was not considered to be murder, or the Bible would demand the offender be killed. Instead, a fine levied by the judges was sufficient.

    Next, Hosea 9:11-14.

    11 As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird, from the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception.

    12 Though they bring up their children, yet will I bereave them, that there shall not be a man left: yea, woe also to them when I depart from them!

    13 Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, is planted in a pleasant place: but Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer.

    14 Give them, O Lord: what wilt thou give? give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.

    So, it is perfectly okay to ask God to perform abortions.

    And then there is the word Nephesh (נֶפֶש). Nephesh is a interesting word. It is translated as “soul”, but the problem is that it is used several times in the Bible to refer to animal life, not human. And the word itself means “breath of life”. Meanwhile, the word “ruah” (רוח) is used to denote the spirit of mankind. Hence, we come to Ezekiel 37:5.

    Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live

    But, wait, that means the Bible considers life to begin at the point when breath begins. Actually, it goes a bit further than that.

    According to the Bible, God tells Moses that children are not even worth counting until they are a month old.
    Numbers 3:40

    40 And the Lord said unto Moses, Number all the firstborn of the males of the children of Israel from a month old and upward, and take the number of their names.

    In fact, they are worthless as far as human sacrifice. Oh, did I mention there were specific rules for human sacrifice in the Bible? Not really my point here, but included for context.
    Leviticus 27:1-7

    27 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

    Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When a man shall make a singular vow, the persons shall be for the Lord by thy estimation.

    And thy estimation shall be of the male from twenty years old even unto sixty years old, even thy estimation shall be fifty shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary.

    And if it be a female, then thy estimation shall be thirty shekels.

    And if it be from five years old even unto twenty years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male twenty shekels, and for the female ten shekels.

    And if it be from a month old even unto five years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male five shekels of silver, and for the female thy estimation shall be three shekels of silver.

    And if it be from sixty years old and above; if it be a male, then thy estimation shall be fifteen shekels, and for the female ten shekels.

    Finally, the Bible even goes so far as to provide instructions on how to perform abortions. Granted, it’s more of a magic spell than an actual medical procedure, but that’s common in the Bible (see the cure for leprosy or how to get stripes or spots on livestock).
    Numbers 5:21-28

    21 Then the priest shall charge the woman with an oath of cursing, and the priest shall say unto the woman, The Lord make thee a curse and an oath among thy people, when the Lord doth make thy thigh to rot, and thy belly to swell;

    22 And this water that causeth the curse shall go into thy bowels, to make thy belly to swell, and thy thigh to rot: And the woman shall say, Amen, amen.

    23 And the priest shall write these curses in a book, and he shall blot them out with the bitter water:

    24 And he shall cause the woman to drink the bitter water that causeth the curse: and the water that causeth the curse shall enter into her, and become bitter.

    25 Then the priest shall take the jealousy offering out of the woman’s hand, and shall wave the offering before the Lord, and offer it upon the altar:

    26 And the priest shall take an handful of the offering, even the memorial thereof, and burn it upon the altar, and afterward shall cause the woman to drink the water.

    27 And when he hath made her to drink the water, then it shall come to pass, that, if she be defiled, and have done trespass against her husband, that the water that causeth the curse shall enter into her, and become bitter, and her belly shall swell, and her thigh shall rot: and the woman shall be a curse among her people.

    28 And if the woman be not defiled, but be clean; then she shall be free, and shall conceive seed.

     

To sum up, legally, it does not classify as murder. Scientifically, there is no evidence that a fetus is a “human being” until it is capable of having cognition. From the Bible, fetus are not counted as “life” in terms of crimes, is not a life until it breathes for the first time, and children under a month old are worthless, anyway. Oh, and priests have an incantation that can cause abortion.

March 30

Saving Pence

019Indiana Governor Mike Pence has really done it this time.

The IRFRA was a bill intended to please his base constituency, the religious right, a powerful force in the state of Indiana. Recently, the state had been told that denying marriage rights to homosexual couples was unconstitutional, and Indiana joined the growing number of states in which marriage equality became the law of the land.

For many Christians (I will be the first to say, not all), this was a slap in the face. A small subset of these upset Christians decided to make sure that the slap to the cheek they received would not go unanswered.

Let’s talk about, for example, Curt Smith. He is in the picture of Pence signing SB101 into law, standing in the far back. In one photo, he is looking over the heads of the two men in front of him.

He’s the president of the Indiana Family Institute. He equates homosexuality with bestiality and adultery:

The Judeo-Christian worldview at the heart of Western culture and so our legal and governmental systems (Ten Commandments, an “eye for an eye,” the very concepts of mercy, justice and rehabilitation) promotes marriage and family while decrying other modes of sexuality — homosexuality, bestiality, adultery, etc.

He helped write the bill. This is the kind of person Pence was working with to pass the bill. Here’s a closer look.

The point is that Pence was working with and for these supporters, and believed he was working in the interest of the religious of the state of Indiana. It is clear he was not expecting the backlash he has received, nor did he foresee the financial implications of the decision to pass the bill into law.

What’s a governor to do?

Well, he cannot just let it ride, that’s for sure. Indiana has worked hard to not be the butt of jokes like the ones made in the era of Cheers. Thankfully, the work we have done has not been completely destroyed by this. Many of the jokes have been made about Pence and discriminatory businesses (Kudos to Saturday Night Live for not attacking the entire state!). The financial damage could range up into the billions, unless quick and effective damage control is done.

I’m sure he would like to stick by his guns, believing himself to be a martyr for the fight against homosexuality; he will find himself very quickly abandoned by everyone but the hardliners when businesses begin to suffer from bad press and boycotts. When the power of civil rights law stood behind gay couples, discrimination was rare. Now that Indiana businesses think they have a license to discriminate, a lot more people are going to come out of the woodwork on both sides.

So, what are his options?

  • Try to “fix” the law. Do a good job, one that actually does protect everyone, and piss off those select few who wrote the bill, but calm the people down. Do a bad job, and end up no better than having done nothing.
  • Work to repeal the law. Probably the best solution, and the one he is least likely to choose. It would take admitting he was wrong, which would be throwing himself under the bus. It might even save his political career. Heck, he could even move further ahead. Is it likely? Probably not. His current power brokers would abandon him. But the people might rally behind him.
  • Punt to the next governor. He might be run out of the state on a rail, with some of the residents of Indiana chasing behind with a bucket of tar and a bag of feathers, but it would be one for the history books.
  • Do nothing. Possible be recalled, possibly lose the next election, who knows what else could happen? This could be the start of a very dark chapter in Indiana history. This is most likely what he will do. He strikes me as coming from the George W. Bush School of Not Changing Horses.

It is unfortunate that we may have to wait until the next election cycle to fix this mess.

 

March 29

When is the RFRA not the RFRA?

Giving bigotry an RFRA paint job.
Giving bigotry an RFRA paint job. Image source: Morgefile

Answer: When it is the Indiana version of the RFRA.

I just finished watching our governor, Mike Pence, speaking with George Stephanopoulos.

To be honest, I am not sure if he was intentionally lying or just really didn’t know the truth. I will leave that determination up to people with more information on the issue than I have. However, I will dissect some of the misinformation he decided to state.

The Indiana RFRA is not the same law as the federal RFRA. As a matter of fact, even though, on the surface, they appear similar, the Indiana RFRA was carefully crafted to not only be different, but to be much easier to use as a bludgeon against those deemed to be undesirable. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Item Federal Law
(42 U.S.C. § 2000bb)
Indiana Law Difference
Section 5 the term “exercise of religion means the exercise of religion under the First Amendment to the Constitution. As used in this chapter, ‘exercise of religion’ includes any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief. The federal law is limited by the Constitution. In addition, the Indiana version uses the word “includes” instead of “means” which does not limit, but gives a single example. This is not a limit at all, but an example. Even if something is at the extreme edge of a religion, it will be protected by the Indiana law where it would not be by the federal version.
 Section 7 Person is not defined. The law was written before the SCOTUS ruled the term “person” could be applied to more than just a human being. As used in this chapter, “person” includes the following: (1) An individual. (2) An organization, a religious society, a church, a body of communicants, or a group organized and operated primarily for religious purposes. (3) A partnership, a limited liability company, a corporation, a company, a firm, a society, a joint-stock company, an unincorporated association, or another entity that: (A) may sue and be sued; and (B) exercises practices that are compelled or limited by a system of religious belief held by: (i) an individual; or (ii) the individuals; who have control and substantial ownership of the entity, regardless of whether the entity is organized and operated for profit or nonprofit purposes.  This puts into law that companies are people, and can have religious rights. No such protection was afforded at all under the federal law.Also, don’t forget Section 5, which means that “exercise of religion” can mean just about anything, whether or not it is protected (or limited) by the Constitution.
 Section 9  There is no Section 9 in the federal version; the closest to this passage is from Section 3: A person whose religious exercise has been burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding and obtain appropriate relief against a government. Standing to assert a claim or defense under this section shall be governed by the general rules of standing under article III of the Constitution. A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding. If the relevant governmental entity is not a party to the proceeding, the governmental entity has an unconditional right to intervene in order to respond to the person’s invocation of this chapter.  As the intent of the original RFRA was to protect individuals from government intrusion on constitutional rights, this section would have made absolutely no sense in the original law. What this clause means, and this is the big problem with the IRFRA, is that religion is now a usable defense for discrimination in civil and criminal court cases. The case does not even have to involve the government. It can be between individuals (which, as you remember, this law also defines as companies)

So, no, Mr. Governor, this is NOT the same law. Claiming that it is, combined with your shameful acts leading up to and surrounding how you signed this, make it clear that the truth and the people of Indiana are two things you are not interested in.

March 27

RFRA vs. RFRA

Why the Indiana RFRA is not the same as the Federal RFRA

State of Distress
State of Distress. Source: Original Work

PLEASE NOTE: A much more in depth and educated analysis can be found here. Mine is cursory and from a layman’s perspective.

Recently, there has been quite a bit of hullabaloo in Indiana and nationwide about the passing into law of SB101, Indiana’s version of the RFRA, or Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Governor Mike Pence’s defense of the bill and now law is that it is not different than the now twenty year old federal law of the same name, passed nearly unanimously and signed by then president Bill Clinton. The problem is, that is not true. Although similar on the surface, there are some important differences. Differences that I think that a lot of people in the media are not really explaining, and I hope to do so here. I myself was guilty of hopping on the bandwagon of criticism of the bill without understanding why I was doing so, and, because of that, I nearly stopped when I considered what Governor Pence was offering as defense. However, I have a feeling he was not expecting people to actually do the research he was encouraging, or they would realize what was really going on.

So, we will discuss some of the larger points, then get into the finer points after the jump.

The Federal RFRA was designed, primarily, to help Native American tribes who had come under legal attack from the federal government in projects that were threatening sacred land, as well as protecting the use of peyote in Native American religious ritual. Although it was not specifically written for Native Americans, that was the original driving factor.

Originally, it applied to the federal as well as state government, although that changed when it was ruled that it was not constitutional to cover state law in such a way, which led to the increase in states passing their own versions of the law.

Continue reading