2015 | Week of March 30 – #1091
As I walked up to the restaurant in Indianapolis this past weekend, I was struck by the sign on the door. The letters R.F.R.A. were encircled by a red band and a diagonal line went through the letters, reminiscent of our “Do Not Enter” signs. Inside the crowded, trendy diner, I saw a sign declaring, “Love Who You Love.”
To be honest, if I hadn’t been part of a party of six, I would have not even opened the door. I knew immediately what the signs meant, even though most of those with me didn’t.
Last Thursday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, “R,” “F,” “R,” “A,” that had just days before passed in the state legislature. Immediately upon signing the bill into law, the attacks began. Governor Pence and the legislators who had voted for the bill were vilified, as those who are determined to redefine and deconstruct marriage, society’s most important social institution, cranked up into high gear. From “NO RFRA” signs greeting restaurant patrons to heated rhetoric from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered groups demanding college and pro sports take their events out of Indiana, the progressive leftists have been howling and joining in protests of the governor.
What Indiana’s new law does is enact at the state level language that was passed on a bi-partisan vote of Congress and signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton. The concept of giving citizens a means by which to defend themselves when they believe their religious freedom or conscience rights have been violated just makes sense. But apparently, freedom and tolerance really are one-way streets and anyone who doesn’t bow the knee to the homosexual activists and their radical agenda doesn’t deserve freedom and tolerance.
What few understand is that the intolerance and discrimination alleged against people of faith on this issue, cuts both ways. Christians just respond differently.
In 2006, when we were dealing with the marriage amendment in Wisconsin, I received a call in either late September or early October from our graphic design vendor. Tingalls Design in Madison had been an excellent vendor for us—great design work, including new websites, timely service, good people. We in turn were excellent clients. We paid our bills in full and on time, gave them repeat business, referred others to them, and worked cooperatively with Tara and her team.
This call however changed our relationship. Tara told me that they were dropping us immediately. She explained that she couldn’t afford to keep us because her printer and other clients were threatening to take their business elsewhere if she kept us as a client—all because we were defending traditional marriage. Effective that day, we were denied the opportunity to be a client of this vendor.
Did we file a lawsuit alleging that Tara and her company were discriminating against us based on Wisconsin’s public accommodations law? Did we riot? Did we send threatening letters to Tingalls or ask others to boycott the business? No, we didn’t. In retrospect, maybe we should have. But I don’t think so. Tara Ingalls has a perfect right to do business or not do business with anyone she chooses. We accepted that and moved on—as difficult as it was in the middle of the battle to pass Wisconsin’s marriage protection amendment.
But wait…maybe we should have filed a lawsuit during that same time period against the Wausau Daily Herald for not letting us buy an ad reminding people to “vote yes for marriage” on election day. Or surely we should have sued the trucking company that took $20,000 as a down payment for advertising on delivery trucks, with a message that said simply “Vote Yes for Marriage—One Man, One Woman” and the date of the election. These folks called and said they’d refund our money, but that they couldn’t sell us the ad space because people might be upset with them. As inconvenient as all this was, and maybe as wrong as it wasy, especially so close to the election, we respected their right to not do business with us and found other vendors.
But that’s not how the liberal progressives and their activists play this game. They’ll threaten with loss of business and loss of prestige. They’ll stage protests and do foul name-calling of governors and others. They’ll run small businesses out of business. They’ll send hateful mail, email and voice messages—usually using incredibly foul language. They’ll do all this and more to intimidate until they get their way.
I sincerely hope Governor Pence and the Indiana legislature will not water down their very reasonable Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but already the news is reporting that might happen. It’s way past time that somebody stood up to these people and made sure that what’s good for them is also good for others. Freedom, tolerance and protection under the law really are two-way streets.
This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”