The Indiana law known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is intended to give citizens protection from federal coercion and encroachment upon religious conscience. It is intended specifically to protect conscientious objectors from participating in acts contrary to their religiously held beliefs and to allow them to seek relief against the violators of their religious conscience. In truth there is a flaw in this apparently well-intended law. And here it is from the text of the law itself:
“Sec. 6. A state action, or an action taken by an individual based upon a state action, may not substantially burden a person’s right to the exercise of religion, even if that burden results from a law or policy of general applicability unless the state or political subdivision of the state demonstrates that applying that burden to the person’s exercise of religion is: (1) essential to further a compelling government interest…”
This law, like many other 1st Amendment Preservation Acts creates a loophole for the government to justify their violations. These acts change the First Amendment standard from “shall not abridge” to the government CAN abridge as long as they can show “a compelling government interest” for their infringements. It is the same loophole that the government uses to justify circumventing the 4th Amendment to read your emails and collect your internet and phone data: a compelling government interest in national security.
According to this law, the government could perhaps argue they have a “compelling government interest” to prevent discrimination against ALL classes of people, and viola! the act is meaningless. As a result this law actually gives legal justification for the very violations it was created to prevent!
This is the danger of compensating for an unbounded GOVERNMENT exercising a power contrary to Liberty and freedom of conscience. While it is the rightful remedy for states to intercede for its citizens, it is very dangerous when it is not done properly. We may just set up new precedents to further weaken the liberties we are attempting to protect.
What we desperately need is more constitutional education and fewer laws.
As a side note: I believe anyone has the right to discriminate against me for the color of my skin, my religion, or even the smell of my perfume if they so choose. I trust Liberty. I believe in the free market system. I never trust the government to have the power to force someone to do or not do something. I believe I have the Liberty to go somewhere else. I do not have a RIGHT to shop anywhere I want. But if a store owner discriminates against me, I reserve the right to boycott and encourage all my friends to boycott this business into bankruptcy.
Comparing the “white only” issues of the 50s & 60s is a misapplication of circumstances. The “white only” discriminations were a result of a law created BY government prohibiting service based upon race.
In truth, there is no difference between a government using the force of law to prohibit a business owner from serving someone than a government using the force of law to require a business owner to serve someone. Either way it is tyranny.