Indiana Governor Mike Pence has been deluged with criticism over the past couple of weeks, first from the media and the Left for signing the state’s RFRA law, and then from the Right for signing an amendment to it that protects public accommodation laws. On Sunday’s Meet the Press, Cardinal Timothy Dolan will offer Pence some gratitude for allowing the debate to take place over how best to balance competing interests of liberty, especially when religious liberty has fallen out of fashion. The only problem, Dolan laments to Chuck Todd, is that more people are interested in shouting down people than actually debating the issues:
DOLAN: It’s tough to balance religious conviction. But it’s easier to ignore religious freedom than it is today the more popular issues, all right. So, in a way, I appreciate the fact that we have political leaders like Governor Pence who are saying, “Whoa. Wait a minute. Without questioning of the rights of the gay community, we also have to make sure that the rights of the religious community are protected.” I just wish we could do that in a temperate, civil way instead of screaming at each other.
Unfortunately, that hope got dashed almost immediately, even though RFRAs are neither new nor novel, and even though they have never been used to justify broad discrimination based on identity. Instead we have journalists trying to paint small-business owners as monsters, with predictably horrible consequences, while others make ignorant comparisons to Jim Crow. The latter case involved state-mandated discrimination on the basis of identity, rather than allow for defenses of individual choices on participation in activities with a balancing test for compelling state interests, but The Narrative of Christians being h8rzes must be maintained, y’all.
Except, of course, that RFRA laws actually apply that balancing test to choices made in response to all sincerely-held religious beliefs. The Amish have used RFRA laws to challenge building codes, and Muslim women to defend the wearing of their headscarves, with courts making nuanced decisions on the issues as they arise. In a rather amusing demonstration of the applicability of RFRA laws, our pal Steven Crowder tries to get a cake for a same-sex wedding from a few Muslim-owned bakeries. Hilarity results, but also a pretty good explanation of why government mandates for participation are the opposite of liberty:
Actually, those conversations in the bakeries all were temperate and civil, were they not? Too bad the national media isn’t as tolerant.