If you read the news this week, when Senator Scott Schneider announced his intention to file the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, (you will also hear it entitled the Freedom of Conscience bill, Hobby Lobby Bill, or RFRA), you would have thought someone had caught their pants on fire the way they hollered! This bill was written with the intent to join Indiana with nineteen other states in effort to protect our freedoms of association and religious liberty. It will protect us from the judicial activism that is trying to force christian businesses, colleges, charities, and churches to act against their core values and religious principles. The bill will match the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act which was signed by Bill Clinton in 1993 with bipartisan support.
The media hype went NUTS with drama and accusations, crying foul, discrimination, and anti-Christian bigotry. What they did not print was the fact that this bill is designed to protect liberty and conscience rights of not only marriage, but your healthcare decisions as well. Their vocal opposition to this bill showed their true intent to silence our first amendment rights, and force us to act against our beliefs.
What it isn’t
The media has wrongly portrayed this bill to be only about gay marriage. This couldn’t be further from the truth. This Freedom of Conscience bill was designed to protect those who want the freedom of conscience when it comes to healthcare decisions, as well as organizations such as religious charities, businesses who have convictions, colleges with faith statements for students and employees, and so much more. The Indiana RFRA is not only for those be religious. As my friend Jesse Bohannon said, “Even an Atheist has a right to refuse to do something that is morally repugnant!”
What’s the bottom line?
Hoosiers should not be required to provide a service, produce a product, rent out property, or be forced to do business with someone if the service goes against their conscience. Religious or not. Contrary to the hype the media is spewing, this is not a theocratic bill. It is a FREEDOM bill. Freedom for everyone, not just some.
Ryan McCann from the Indiana Family Institute stated the following. “1st Amendment rights are under attack in America today. Hobby Lobby had to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to refrain from funding abortion causing drugs. Bakers, florists, family farms and many other businesses are being forced to participate in activities that violate their religious liberty and free speech rights. Currently here in Indiana, inmates have greater religious liberty rights than law-abiding citizens because federal religious liberty protections are actually greater than state law allows. We need to get serious about strengthening 1st Amendment protections in Indiana. We need the Hobby Lobby bill. The Hobby Lobby bill would protect churches, businesses, non-profits and individuals against unjust lawsuits and/or government action that could result in fines, prosecution or worse. Although Hobby Lobby won their case on the federal level, state law does not give businesses like Hobby Lobby the same protection. Arlene Flowers of Washington State. Elaine Photography of New Mexico. These and many more family owned businesses are being targeted for their faith and driven out of business. This should not be happening across America and we must not let it happen in Indiana. The Indiana General Assembly needs to act this Session to pass the Hobby Lobby bill and protect religious liberty and free speech rights for all.”
Simply stated, here are some examples of the depth of this bill:
- A “T-Shirt” company should not be required to produce a T-shirt for a KKK rally that says something reprehensible. We should have the liberty to kindly say, No thank you, that goes against my conscience, I will have to turn this down.
- The Muslim meat shop in Indiana should not be required to sell bacon if it goes against their conscience. They should have the freedom to say, No, but I bet you could find bacon down the street!
- My church, who has a beautiful facility to host weddings should be allowed to determine their own guidelines and principles before renting the building out. (homosexual marriages, or heterosexual marriages)
- The local Christian colleges should have the freedom to act according to their mission statement (their religious beliefs) and be allowed to have a faith/lifestyle statement and standards for attending the school or employing those who shape the minds of students coming to the college.
- What about our Amish neighbors? Should they be required to have electricity due to a local neighborhood ordinance? Should they be denied the right to live their lives according to the dictates of their religious beliefs?
- Think of the amazing Catholic charities we have in Indiana. They should not have to close their doors in order to follow the mandates of an ordinance or state law.
What does tolerance truly mean?
Does it mean everyone must hold the same beliefs and act upon them under threat of government force or penalty? If you haven’t thought about it, it’s probably time to do so. You’ve heard the stories. You’ve seen the documentation of the Christian bakeries who have had to close due to lawsuits. Churches having to compromise their Biblical stand and forced to rent out their facilities, Hobby Lobby being forced to provide abortion inducing drugs, Christian counselors closing their doors, wedding planners, school administrators, pastors, rabbis… Hoosiers, freedom is under attack. I documented about 20 in the blog I entitled The fight for Religious Freedom; Why Indiana Marriage is worth fighting for.
I close with one more story.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that the same holds true to the homosexual community. They should not be required to do business with someone who wants a product that goes against their beliefs. They should not have to “bake” a cake for a heterosexual marriage if they choose not to do so. They should not have to print signs saying, “marriage: one man and one woman.” Take a minute to watch this moving story of two lesbian business owners who defended a Christian business rights. This is the crux of Senator Scott Schneiders’s bill. These two women get it. They understand what freedom is. I’ll stand with them any day!
I call on Indiana lawmakers to take a stand with Senator Schneider to protect Hoosiers from the attacks of those who wish to strip us of freedom, and shove us into a conformist mold. They’ve tried for years to do this through Hollywood, now they are using the bully court system. We must protect Indiana from activist judges who interpret law into their agenda. Indiana does not currently have this protection, as 19 other states do.
I quote again from Jesse Bohannon, who stated, “While for many of us, God’s word is the unchanging, immovable source of our truth, and we fight for the freedom to live our lives in alignment with that truth. But we also understand that in order for us to enjoy that freedom, we must also fight to protect the rights even atheists have to live their lives, spend their money, and invest their time energy and creativity in ways which align with their own beliefs. We must all be free to follow the dictates of our own conscience. I believe, this is the most fundamental tenant of our American creed: the foundation of our liberty.”
Hoosiers should not have to separate the corporate world from their religious beliefs.
What can you do?
I sent the following letter to several Indiana Lawmakers, and would encourage you to do the same. Ask your lawmaker to step up to the plate and stand with Senator Schneider to protect our religious freedom and freedom of conscience this session. Who is your lawmaker?
I would then encourage you to set up a meeting with your pastor to let him know its time to wake up a sleeping giant. Encourage him to preach truth. For so long they have been muzzled in fear of the offering plate and bossy congregants. Let him know you have his back. Let him know you are praying for him and that you are his “wingman.”
Then finally and most importantly do this. Gather your families around you and make a declaration.”As for me and my house…. we will stand.” Declare as a family that you will not bow, bend or break when the persecution comes in waves. Pray for revival to begin right there in your family. Are you and your family prepared to say this:
“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if He doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”
~Daniel 3:16-18 (NLT)
Religious Freedom is in dire jeopardy in America, and will soon hit Hoosier businesses, colleges, churches, and homes. Those with firmly held religious beliefs have suddenly found themselves standing with no protection as the left attempts to strip them of their right of conscience and religious conviction. Case after case of documented persecution is reported in the news each day.
I am asking for your help.
While fiscal issues are critically important and vital to our nation and the state of Indiana, I feel without religious freedom, and conscience protection we have nothing. As I wrote in an article entitled “The fight for Religious Freedom; Why Indiana Marriage is worth fighting for,” I documented over 20 instances where Americans are being targeted for their Biblical belief on marriage. These are documented cases that cannot be argued, nor can they be ignored. This does not stop with marriage. No one should have to associate or be forced into a business relationship against their conscience.
I believe freedom of religion is at grave risk if we don’t do something to protect Hoosiers here in Indiana. I’ve heard it suggested, that we take a “wait and see” stance on this issue. I don’t believe that is wise.
I believe we need to act now and pass a Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Several states have/and are doing this as I write this. Mississippi is one of the latest to successfully do so. I have researched other states who have also seen the need to protect religious freedom, and have introduced such legislation, and it seems Mississippi has the strongest language that protects christian businesses as well as churches. This will not happen easily. The left does not like this plan, and will fight it. They have bought into the new terminology called “Freedom of Worship.” This simply means that you are free to worship in the place of your choosing, however you must not take any beliefs outside the doors of your church.
However, I believe in what our founders intended and gave their lives for… Freedom of Religion.
The first amendment states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
We’ve read it a hundred times, but have you ever noticed, this amendment contains two sections when it comes to religion? The first section is the establishment clause. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. This is wrongly interpreted in the courts as the “separation of church and state.” The second part is what we all know as the “Free Exercise Clause.” This tells congress that they cannot interfere with the religious practices, conscious, or beliefs. This enables our faith (or lack thereof) to be protected far outside the walls of a church.
Because of the far left agenda being forced down our throats, with clear examples as stated in my article above, I believe christian businesses, colleges, and families are in grave jeopardy of judicial activists and need to be protected from this onslaught.
I am writing to you to ask for your help. I will work hard to pass this kind of legislation with any lawmaker who is willing to say, “Yes, count me in. I want to protect religious freedom here in Indiana.”
If we lose religious freedom, we lose everything.
I appreciate your bold courageous stand for conservative principles, more than you will ever know. We have to protect our Religious Freedom inside the church as well as outside the church doors.
Hoosiers in Indiana are ready to take a stand for Religious Freedom!
With Firm Reliance on Divine Providence,
President, Kosciusko Silent NO More