RFRA: Indiana Stampeded: Solid Law to Disaster

Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act before it was amended, which amendment was signed into law today by that state's governor, Mike Pence, was very solid, as far as secular laws can go. It rightly left room for religious conscientious-objectors to take their cases to the courts. The outcomes were not predetermined but would have been argued and decided hopefully on the merits of each case. I wrote about it here: "At Best, a Knee-Jerk, Superficial Analysis: 'Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act Allows Private Businesses to Discriminate Against Employees Based on Sexual Orientation,' by Garrett Epps — Atlantic Mobile."


Tom Usher

If you bother to read that, you will see a hypothetical case that explains why it has been a terrible mistake for Indiana's political, rudderless leadership to have allowed itself to be deluged into a very poorly thought-out and crafted law.

I hunted for the actual new (amended) text. Indiana went from having the best law on the subject in the nation to the worst:


(1) authorize a provider to refuse to offer or provide services, facilities, use of public accommodations, goods, employment, or housing to any member or members of the general public on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or United States military service;

(2) establish a defense to a civil action or criminal prosecution for refusal by a provider to offer or provide services, facilities, use of public accommodations, goods, employment, or housing to any member or members of the general public on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or United States military service; or

(3) negate any rights available under the Constitution of the State of Indiana.

SECTION 2. IC 34-13-9-7.5 IS ADDED TO THE INDIANA CODE AS A NEW SECTION TO READ AS FOLLOWS [EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2015]: Sec. 7.5. As used in this chapter, "provider" means one (1) or more individuals, partnerships, associations, organizations, limited liability companies, corporations, and other organized groups of persons. The term does not include:

(1) A church or other nonprofit religious organization or society, including an affiliated school, that is exempt from federal income taxation under 26 U.S.C. 501(a), as amended (excluding any activity that generates unrelated business taxable income (as defined in 26 U.S.C. 512, as amended)).

(2) A rabbi, priest, preacher, minister, pastor, or designee of a church or other nonprofit religious organization or society when the individual is engaged in a religious or affiliated educational function of the church or other nonprofit religious organization or society.

That language now says that the hypothetical professional photographer in my earlier post would have no option but to photograph the animal sacrifices I discussed. It wouldn't matter whether that photographer's religion is in direct opposition to such religious animal-sacrifices or not. The photographer, under the Indiana RFRA (if it is even constitutional under Indiana's Constitution, which I think it is not), would have no defense including concerning potential criminal prosecution. It remains to be seen how the Supreme Court of The United States (SCOTUS) would rule on it and whether Indiana would step up at that time to nullify a bad decision by that Court.

This issue was, and remains, a question concerning the SCOTUS and nullification (not an endorsement of all things Tom Woods) if necessary but won't work right now in Indiana in any case due to the currently extremely weak political leadership in the legislature and governor's office.

The Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act is clearly overreach and plainly religious persecution (unreasonable, not based upon a compelling reason where there is no easier remedy; it's not as if homosexuals lack goods, services, housing, accommodations, and the like, from pro-homosexuality providers in Indiana, not that, that should be the litmus test regardless).

The law is based upon homosexual fascism. It is evil. It is a direct assault on the free-exercise clause of the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights in the US Constitution, which Amendment puts religion first among civil liberties.

The supposed right of men to sodomize each other has been elevated above express religious rights to even be considered in the courts of Indiana.

It's an unmitigated disaster.


The following should appear at the end of every post:

According to the IRS, "Know the law: Avoid political campaign intervention":

Tax-exempt section 501(c)(3) organizations like churches, universities, and hospitals must follow the law regarding political campaigns. Unfortunately, some don't know the law.

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from participating in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to campaigns at the federal, state and local level.

Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. Section 501(c)(3) private foundations are subject to additional restrictions.

Political Campaign Intervention

Political campaign intervention includes any activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office. The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements.

Contributions to political campaign funds, public statements of support or opposition (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization, and the distribution of materials prepared by others that support or oppose any candidate for public office all violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention.

Factors in determining whether a communication results in political campaign intervention include the following:

  • Whether the statement identifies one or more candidates for a given public office
  • Whether the statement expresses approval or disapproval of one or more candidates' positions and/or actions
  • Whether the statement is delivered close in time to the election
  • Whether the statement makes reference to voting or an election
  • Whether the issue addressed distinguishes candidates for a given office

Many religious organizations believe, as we do, that the above constitutes a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That said, we make the following absolutely clear here:

  • The Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project not only do not endorse any candidate for any secular office, we say that Christianity forbids voting in such elections.
  • Furthermore, when we discuss any public-office holder's position, policy, action or inaction, we definitely are not encouraging anyone to vote for that office holder's position.
  • We are not trying to influence secular elections but rather want people to come out from that entire fallen system.
  • When we analyze or discuss what is termed "public policy," we do it entirely from a theological standpoint with an eye to educating professing Christians and those to whom we are openly always proselytizing to convert to authentic Christianity.
  • It is impossible for us to fully evangelize and proselytize without directly discussing the pros and cons of public policy and the positions of secular-office holders, hence the unconstitutionality of the IRS code on the matter.
  • We are not rich and wouldn't be looking for a fight regardless. What we cannot do is compromise our faith (which seeks to harm nobody, quite the contrary).
  • We render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. We render unto God what is God's.
  • When Caesar says to us that unless we shut up about the unrighteousness of Caesar's policies and practices, we will lose the ability of people who donate to us to declare their donations as deductions on their federal and state income-tax returns, we say to Caesar that we cannot shut up while exercising our religion in a very reasonable way.
  • We consider the IRS code on this matter as deliberate economic duress (a form of coercion) and a direct attempt by the federal government to censor dissenting, free political and religious speech.
  • It's not freedom of religion if they tax it.

And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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