Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Someone Else Today. You Tomorrow.

This bill is not about discrimination... [the purpose of the legislation] is very simply to empower individuals when they believe that actions of government impinge on their constitutional First Amendment freedom of religion... 
-- Indiana Governor Mark Pence, to ABC's George Stephanopolis

SB 101: Religious freedom restoration. Prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person's exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless the governmental entity can demonstrate that the burden: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest... Specifies that the religious freedom law applies to the implementation or application of a law regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity or official is a party to a proceeding ... Prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person's exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability... Specifies that the religious freedom law applies to the implementation or application of a law regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity or official is a party to a proceeding implementing or applying the law. Prohibits an applicant, employee, or former employee from pursuing certain causes of action against a private employer... (The RFRA, per the Indiana General Assembly)

I had intended to post a long rant on the perfidy and outright evil which characterize right-wing evangelism in America, but we'll just take those items as a given.

SB 101 isn't the first law passed in even recent memory allowing a minority in political control to enshrine their intolerance with the force of legislation -- in this case, evangelical christians (with a small "c") and their god-given (well, somebody's god, anyway) right to condemn -- in this case, LGBT Americans. And evangelicals love to condemn; being a True Believer seems to gives them the authority to do that, filled with Grace™ and love (and something else) as they are.

And our right-wing evangelicals want to be the dominant authority -- over women, over children, over education and art and sexuality. Our evangelicals, like the Taliban, would like to enact their own version of religious law in America -- and religious law is not about uplifting and empowering the human spirit; it's based on Thou Shalt Not.

Religious law of whatever flavor is based on the fundamental precept that Humans are bad, stained from birth with evil, who must be carefully watched by the Elders and restricted from committing more acts which The Elders believe are affronts against (somebody's) god.

And (as is always true in less democratic forms of governing), the force of religious law always rests on ultimate punishment. Those who break these laws are whipped and disfigured, have parts of their bodies crudely amputated; are tortured until they confess their crimes; are stoned to death, beheaded, or burned at the stake. And the entire community will be made to watch, or may be required to participate in a ritualized killing... as a religious requirement. As an object lesson.

And nations ruled by True Believers and their edicts -- religious, or political -- always become bankrupt cultures; shabby, frightening, and ultimately murderous places.  Ask the Muslims of Serbia and Croatia. Ask the Tutsis of Rawanda. Ask the people of Cambodia. Ask the people of Afghanistan. Ask the Jews of Europe.

(A Dog has a long memory:  The last member of my family had been a born-again evangelical; for a time, they were associated with a tiny sect, organized around a self-proclaimed 'pastor'. After a long illness, my family member died; at the funeral, I watched the 'pastor' turn what was a moment of grief and remembrance into his opportunity to tell a captive audience, at length, that their time on earth was short and everyone in earshot and beyond was hellbound and they'd better get right with the lord.

(He shouted and strutted; he preened -- a True Believer in full, in love with the power that act of condemnation gave him. Of passing judgement, and settling scores. I've found some of him in every individual I've seen or experienced since who claims to be 'moved' by an allegedly higher power. And the so-called "laws" associated with whatever freakshow delusion they're pushing which allow them to do pretty much whatever they want. Yes, they'll make fine leaders of America, or whatever they'll call their New Kingdom.

(Ask the members of the People's Temple at Jonestown. Ask the Branch Davidians at Waco. You might even ask the members of 'christian' congregations across America, listening to speeches made by their 'pastors' condemning other people as less than human and feeling such putrescent drivel is not only just fine but righteous.) 

SB101 is not the last legislation of its kind that we'll see passed in America. And if an evangelical christian ever becomes President of the United States, we will see many more. The United States is, in the eyes of many, the country where political apathy is king; perhaps that's so.

If it is, then God help us all. In our torpor, ultimately we may find ourselves ruled by the same kind of strutting, egotistical monsters that a real pastor, Martin Niemöller, had in mind when he made the oft-quoted observation:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out. --  Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)


(Reuters) - Indiana's Republican Governor Mike Pence, responding to national outrage over the state's new Religious Freedom Restoration Act, said on Tuesday he will "fix" it to make clear businesses cannot use it to deny services to same-sex couples.

Pence, in a news conference, said the law he signed last week had been widely mischaracterized and "smeared" but he called on the state's Republican-controlled General Assembly to send a new law to his desk this week to fix it...

But Pence found support from conservatives including Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz and possible presidential contenders Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio...
Critics say Indiana's law went too far in potentially allowing businesses to deny services to gay couples, because they could argue that doing so went against their deeply held beliefs.

Same-sex marriage became legal in Indiana under an appeals court ruling last year.

Religious Freedom Acts in Georgia and North Carolina appeared to stall this week after Indiana came under fire. But the Arkansas House of Representatives is expected to approve this week an RFRA that has already passed the state's Senate.


  1. Slightly edited (to be non-theistic) version of the Prayer of St. Francis (as Wikipedia makes clear, it was named in honor of him, not written by him)

    My goal is to be an instrument of peace.
    Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
    Where there is injury, pardon;
    Where there is doubt, faith;
    Where there is despair, hope;
    Where there is darkness, light;
    Where there is sadness, joy.

    I seek not so much to be consoled, as to console;
    to be understood, as to understand;
    to be loved, as to love.

    For it is in giving that we receive.
    It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
    and it is in letting go of a smaller self that we are able to recognize our wider identity.

    1. Ditto. I also think Elvis got it when he said, "Don't / Step on my Blue Suede Shoes".

  2. a couple more points -

    1)looking again at the photo at the top of this post, i am once more struck at how handsome that american flag armband looks - and the sparse use of color really sets it off - kudos

    2)something similar to the following incident, stated to have happened in iowa, could possibly be prevented in the future in indiana, if the proprietor had religious objections to one or more of the denominations of the professionals involved:

    The following appeared in print, in the Weekly World News:



    A RABBI, priest and a minister walked into a bar in a small Iowa town—but nothing funny happened.

    “When I saw the three of them walk in,” bartender Joe Blobonski says, “I thought to myself, ‘This is gonna be good.

    I mean, this is the setup for thousands of jokes, so I figured something hilarious is about to happen.”

    But the results were disappointing.

    “They sat down at a table, and didn’t say much.”

    Blobonski says he expected to burst out laughing when he took their order.

    “The priest said, ‘I’ll have a Virgin Mary.’ Then the minister said, ‘I’ll have a Bloody Mary,’ Blobonski says. “I could barely contain myself, waiting for the rabbi’s punch line.

    “But then he says, ‘I’d like a Diet Coke,’ A Diet Coke?

    THAT’S not funny. I couldn’t believe it.”

    At another point the rabbi asked, “Do you get many rabbis in here?”

    Blobonski says, “I said ‘No,’ waiting for the rabbi’s hysterical comeback.

    “But all he said was ‘too bad.’ “

    The three religious wise men quietly drank up, paid the bill, and left.

    “It was really pretty boring, to be honest,” Blobonski added.

    Published on: 09/05/2004


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