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March 31, 2015

Restoring Religious Freedom, Restricting Government

There is a ridiculous brouhaha currently manifesting itself in media outlets large and small concerning the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act recently passed by the Indiana Legislature and signed into law by its governor.

The Indiana State Constitution states in Section 3, “No law shall, in any case whatever, control the free exercise and enjoyment of religious opinions, or interfere with the rights of conscience.” The U.S. Constitution states in the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

It would seem then that it is a redundancy to pass such a law as this newly minted Indiana “religious freedom act,” given that the right to the free exercise of religion already exists in the U.S. Constitution and the Indiana Constitution goes even further in in establishing the right to religious opinion, and right of religious conscience. Once again the Constitutions establishing the governments of both The United States of America and of the State of Indiana are cast aside by the media, opposing political parties and a rabble of citizens who demand the exercise of their “rights” (will) at the expense of the rights their fellow citizens as guaranteed in the Constitutions of both The United States of America and The State of Indiana. Is it the restriction of government action that those opposed to freedom of religious thought and conscience oppose or is it the idea that anyone might have beliefs contrary to to theirs? In a completely secular society, religious conscience must be denied so that the government has the power to choose which rights exist and which do not. The rabble that would deny someone the right to exercise their religious conscience based on a supposed discrimination that might result from that conscience  would also enforce governmental action that discriminates against those that have beliefs different than theirs.

The Indiana RFRA, which mirrors the Federal RFRA passed in 1993, is a restriction on governmental action against the citizens of Indiana. While this Indiana law does expand the definition of person, that too is only a reflection of recent Supreme Court definitions of a person. If we as Americans are to ever restore our once great nation to the principles on which it was founded, perhaps we need more laws restricting government actions and less laws restricting the free actions of its citizens. For as Patrick Henry said, “Show me that age and country where the rights and liberties of the people were placed on the sole chance of their rulers being good men, without a consequent loss of liberty! I say that the loss of that dearest privilege has ever followed, with absolute certainty, every such mad attempt.”

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