Like everything Democrat v Republican, the Orwellian-styled legalistic effluvium known as the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (Indiana’s recent edition of this, anyway) has become its own religion, with priests and heretics, idolaters and zealous enemies pro and con. So, once again, the self-appointed Two Party System has you arbitrarily separated into two opposing partisan tribes, feuding against each other needlessly, in our apparently endless game of Enemy Du Jour Whack-A-Mole.
This is stupid, destructive, and, of course, unconstitutional.
Unless you actually read the text of the law, you are deceived by the profusion of political rhetoric. If you do read the law and still think it’s what the combatants, pro and con, say it is, you are self-deceived.
Let’s take this step by step, shall we?
First, did anybody amend the Indiana Constitution’s Article I Sections 1-5, where people are acknowledged to have religious rights surpassing any government power?
So why do these enumerated rights need restoration? Who took away these rights? From whom do they need to be restored if politicians were to keep their mitts off these freedoms?
Why do we think this law is necessary?
Because no politician in Indiana is keeping her/his oath of office, that’s why.
Nobody is affirming constitutional rights over the plethora of contradictory, divisive, cliquish and corrupt laws that, according to the Indiana Constitution’s Article I Section 25, (and as clarified by the federal constitution’s 9th and 10th amendments) are null and void anyway.
Nobody is doing the constitutions. Not politicians, and certainly not voters who can’ be bothered with such things when there’s always something more entertaining going on.
I shouldn’t have to go any further than that.
But let’s look at the law itself now:
“Sec. 6. As used in this chapter, “governmental entity” includes the whole or any part of a branch, department, agency, instrumentality, official, or other individual or entity acting under color of law of any of the following: (1) State government. (2) A political subdivision (as defined in IC 36-1-2-13). (3) An instrumentality of a governmental entity described in subdivision(1) or (2), including a state educational institution, a body politic, a body corporate and politic, or any other similar entity established by law.”
Pay attention to the preceding definition of applicable governmental entity. It basically grants that all agents of our current government, including bureaucrats, teachers, or anybody under political whim, has authority under this law. For the purposes of this law (you’ve got to read it), that is unconstitutionally granting that non-executives have executive power, and non-judicial folk have judicial powers, since this law grants (as you will see) broad powers of judgment and action to governmental entities to “burden” your rights.
Before pondering the obviously vague term, “burden,” let’s get more into the more clearly understandable “language” (Newspeak for “words”).
“Sec. 7. 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.”
Note the corporate person fiction. Corporations, including churches under 501c3, are already under political authority as they, unlike actual living people, are government-created abstractions. Grouping actual humans into this should warn you that this law evokes all the usual corruption. But most people don’t get this, and that is another topic for another day, so I’ll move on to the more actionable words:
“Sec. 8. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), a governmental entity may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability. (b) A governmental entity may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if the governmental entity demonstrates that application of the burden to the person: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
Sec. 9. 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.
Sec. 10. (a) If a court or other tribunal in which a violation of this chapter is asserted in conformity with section 9 of this chapter determines that: (1) the person’s exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened; and (2) the governmental entity imposing the burden has not demonstrated that application of the burden to the person: (A) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (B) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest; the court or other tribunal shall allow a defense against any party and shall grant appropriate relief against the governmental entity. (b) Relief against the governmental entity may include any of the following: (1) Declaratory relief or an injunction or mandate that prevents, restrains, corrects, or abates the violation of this chapter. (2) Compensatory damages. (c) In the appropriate case, the court or other tribunal also may award all or part of the costs of litigation, including reasonable attorney’s fees, to a person that prevails against the governmental entity under this chapter.”
Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Read the whole section above and see how, “A governmental entity may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if…” …it wants to.
Do you not see what happens here? Read the Indiana Constitution’s Article I Section 25. Try to find anywhere in that constitution where politicians should have any authority to write a law that in any way “burden a person’s” rights, either enumerated or not. That’s not how the constitutions, state and federal, are supposed to work…at all!
We The People are supposed to be the boss of government, not the other way around!
Boiling down what the law actually says:
The state itself can’t oppose your rights…unless it wants to. The state may back you up in court…or not. The state is who the state says it is, and it decides whether its motives and actions are right, or not.
Does this comfort you?
It never affirms anybody’s rights in any way at all. It never grants that you can do business as you see fit. It never says that nobody will make you sell when you don’t want to sell. It never says the state can’t force you to compromise your religious beliefs in action.
To the contrary…it says very clearly that the state may well oppose you in all the above.
Now, back to that “burden” thing…
The Indiana Constitution’s Article 4, Section 20 says, “Every act and joint resolution shall be plainly worded…”
What’s plain about “burden?” What are the limits of that law-defining-word?
Yeah, that’s what I think, too.
So, my dear fellow mortal human sinners…we’ve screwed up yet again. We’ve again given everything unto Caesar.