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.


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Posted March 29, 2015 by zalpha in category "Politics", "Recent Events", "Religion and atheism

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