Wednesday, March 18, 2015

What is the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act? - 2015 Indiana Senate Bill 568

There are numerous claims by substantially polarized groups on the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Both sides claiming they are being oppressed. Then there is me who follows this parade holding no opinion on the matter but perfunctorily scooping up the crap left behind.

The critical part of the bill is section 6 which reads;
A state action, or an action taken by an individual based on state action, may not substantially burden a person's right to the exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a law or policy of general applicability, unless the state or political subdivision of the state demonstrates that applying the burden to the person's exercise of religion is: (1) essential to further a compelling governmental interest; and (2) the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest.

This bill contains both exceptions that are essential to all statutes or government actions which inhibit liberty. Also included is the qualifier “substantially burden” which means that the right is not absolute and may be contravened in a manner that still allows the right to be exercised but limits its application. i.e. An urban church group who wanted to hold a revival in their yard with singing and music electronically amplified would still be required to comply with times and volume limits of a local noise ordinance that is uniformly applied.

Sections 3 and 7 clearly use language that applies to religions specifically - As used in this chapter, "exercise of religion" means the practice or observance of religion and A person whose exercise of religion respectively. Section 3 also includes, in a manner that is substantially motivated by the person's sincerely held religious belief, which again establishes religion as a qualifier.

People around the world have based their behaviours, shaped their lives, and allowed their sincerely held beliefs to guide them in absolute terms. These beliefs are of their essence. The foundation of ascribing to a religion is for many a deeply held belief which becomes a part of their essence. Yet this bill does not respect the sincerely held beliefs which are essential to one’s being and sense of self for everyone.

By the very language of this bill if I were to hold a personal bias or prejudice against cult followers based upon my sincerely held ethical or moral beliefs [such as being vegetarian is a moral absolute] I am not protected by this bill but if they wanted to discriminate against me for that belief and practice they are protected in the name of religion. It is not equitable and establishes a preference for cults.

I do not see language in this bill that targets the LGBTQ community specifically although the effect could be that some in the LGBTQ may be discriminated against based upon someone’s religious belief. To be equitable this bill should likewise allow members of the LGBTQ community to discriminate against someone who holds a bias against them if the LGBTQ member feels that bias contravenes their sincerely held belief regardless of its applicability to a religious doctrine.

But setting that dichotomy aside I revert to be vegetarian. I sincerely believe that the barbaric methods of slaughtering animals for human use is an unjustifiable iniquity. While I will patronize establishment that sell or serve meat I avoid those which glorify the subjugation of animals. The probity of my vegetarianism should be equally protected in allowing me to discriminate against the carnivores as that has been part of the essence of my adult life. This bill does not do that and it is for that reason it is inequitable and contrary to liberty. This act is a step toward theocracy.

The similar Senate Bill 101 was signed into law by Governor Pence on 26 March 2015.

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