FAQ: Religious Freedom Restoration Act (column)
Q. Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence, signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. What’s the big deal?
A. Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court mandated that Indiana had to recognize same-sex marriages, essentially saying “Like it or lump it.” This is them lumping it.
Q. Would Senate Bill 101 really allow Christians to discriminate against homosexuals?
A. Critics maintain the law protects religions from being sued for actions related to their beliefs. The problem is not everyone in Indiana is a Christian. This legislation could also provide Quakers the right to refuse to sell furniture to anyone wearing a zipper. Muslim ice cream shop owners would not be required to serve waffle cones to women.
Q. What’s the problem?
A. Hoosier Wiccans also praised the law, claiming it allows them to marry horses.
Q. Like to see that wedding cake. What exactly is a Hoosier?
A. Nobody knows; but in the early 1800s it was generally used to describe a bunch of yokels. Meant as an insult, it was taken on by native Indianans as a form of mocking self-tribute until it lost its negative connotations. Kind of like Oklahomans with Okies. Or Wisconsinites and Cheeseheads.
Q. And now?
A. Negative connotations — back with a bullet.
Q. Didn’t Clinton sign a Religious Freedom Restoration Act on the federal level in 1993?
A. Yes. And it passed the House and the Senate almost unanimously. But that bill was written to prevent governments from interfering with religious practices and focused on freedoms, not discrimination. It’s a new reality show on Fox: “When Good Bills Go Bad.”
Q. What has the response been?
A. To say there’s been a backlash is like inferring that gravel does not top the list of requested desert toppings. Many artists including Miley Cyrus threatened to cancel concerts.
Q. Not too big of a deal, as Ms. Cyrus pulled out of half her dates last year. Anything else?
A. Angie’s List canceled an expansion. A groundswell of boycotts. The president of the NCAA even said nasty things and when the NCAA assumes the moral high ground you know you’re in deep doo-doo.
Q. Didn’t Arizona try something similar last year?
A. Yes. But Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the bill after the NFL threatened to pull the Super Bowl out of Phoenix. The postal abbreviation AZ seems to stand for Angry Xenophobes. And yes, xenophobe starts with an X. But they don’t know that.
Q. Does this mean the NFL trumps the NCAA?
A. By a ratio of approximately umpteen gazillion to 1.
Q. Didn’t Gov. Pence write an editorial in the Washington Post blaming Obamacare for this law?
A. Yes. According to Republicans, it turns out Obamacare is responsible for a variety of maladies, including an abundance of retina detachment in Angus steers, the substandard maple syrup crop in Vermont and blue mold.
Q. And what about the “fix”?
A. Proponents of the law consider the legislative “fix” exactly like how a veterinarian fixes a dog.
Q. So, what is Indiana really trying to say?
A. “We have the God-given right to be intolerant of people who do not believe in our God-given right to be intolerant.”
Q. And who can argue with that?
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