To The Daily Sun,
Mr. Ewing's latest rant misleadingly tries to equate Indiana's shameful "freedom to discriminate" law with the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and the previous 19 state laws based on it. His letter is full of phony outrage, fueled by a persecution complex. But he conveniently ignores the crucial differences between the legislation that passed in Indiana and the others which make it a totally different creature.
1. The original RFRA applies to disputes between a person and the federal government. Indiana's also applies to disputes between individuals. People could use their beliefs as a defense against discrimination charges brought by other citizens. Or as a justification for discriminating against other people that would otherwise be illegal. Someone who believes in the old biblical "curse of Ham" interpretation might use it to refuse service to African-Americans. .
2. The original RFRA, and most of the previous state laws, provide protection only if a law substantially burdens a person's exercise of religion. The Indiana law only requires that a person think that their religious freedom is "likely" to be violated. That person can make up his own standards, as long as he claims that he's following his religion.
3. The federal law only grants its protections to people, non-profit organizations (such as religious groups) and, under the Hobby Lobby decision, "closely held" corporations where all owners share the same religious beliefs. Indiana's explicitly also includes for-profit corporations and public companies.
Comparing the RFRA of 1993 to Indiana's is like comparing apples to rotten oranges They are not the same. And Mr. Ewing can't try to hide behind what supporters of the original law said at the time it was passed. He should note that Senator Schumer, who he mentions, said that the new Indiana statute "in no way resembles the intent or application of the federal RFRA." It goes way beyond protecting religious freedom to give people and corporations a license to discriminate: against not only LGBT people, but also divorcees, women who have had abortions, people who eat shellfish, and more. Religion is not intended to be an excuse for someone to ignore equality under the law in our society. It is not a license for anyone to pick and choose whatever discrimination he favors. It is not a tool for people to make up their own laws and force others to bow to them. I wonder how Mr. Ewing would react if a Black Muslim store owner in Indiana had posted a sign in his window reading "Christians will not be served".
- Category: Letters
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