- - Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Founding Fathers of the United States of America were crystal clear on the priority of religious liberty. The first sentence of the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The oft-ignored second portion of that, the free exercise clause, is essential. It assures any American citizen can practice the religion of their choice without interference from the government.

Throughout our 200-plus-year history, the First Amendment has stood strong. It’s been challenged by society at times, but thankfully upheld by our courts and supported by our government.

Until 2015.

The state of Indiana recently passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. According to Gov. Mike Pence, it was intended to protect the constitutional rights and privileges of freedom of religion for people of faith and families of faith in Indiana. This is a good thing, right? Steeped in American tradition as old as the Constitution itself.

Wrong. Freedom to exercise your own spirituality somehow offends the gay community. They claim it is intolerant and is an attack on their lifestyle. Ironically, their response has been to attack supporters of the law with intolerance of religious beliefs.

It seems the purveyors of political correctness and tolerance aren’t so tolerant if your religious beliefs don’t agree with their way of thinking. The LGBT community and the new moral left have determined that the gay agenda trumps the First Amendment and the liberal left is coming along for the ride.

Charles Barkley, a member of the NBA Hall of Fame and often outspoken television sports analyst, has called for the NCAA to move the college basketball Final Four out of Indiana in protest of the law. “As long as anti-gay legislation exists in any state, I strongly believe big events such as the Final Four and Super Bowl should not be held in those states’ cities.” Religious freedom equates to anti-gay? It might be easy to dismiss Mr. Barkley’s comments as the ramblings of an ill-informed athlete if it weren’t for so many other high-profile objectors.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, a homosexual, has compared the Indiana law to Jim Crow laws in the Old South. The governors of Connecticut and Illinois are signing executive orders banning travel to any state with similar laws. Wait a minute. Other states have this same law? Yes. 19 other states in fact, including Connecticut and Illinois. The governors have apparently created the unintended challenge of Connecticut and Illinois state employees being banned from travel in their own states. It seems retired athletes aren’t the only ones who haven’t done their homework before expressing their outrage.

According to those who are squealing, Indiana’s new law is a Republican effort to legislate discrimination and intolerance. This ignores the fact that more than 20 years ago the federal version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously. Not one congressman, Democrat or Republican, voted against it. It passed the U.S. Senate with overwhelming bipartisan 97-3 approval. It was then signed into law by Democratic President Bill Clinton. At the signing of the law, Mr. Clinton said, “Our Founders cared a lot about religion. And one of the reasons they worked so hard to get the First Amendment into the Bill of Rights, at the head of the class, is that they well understood what could happen to this country, how both religion and government could be perverted if there were not some space created and some protection provided. We are, after all, the oldest democracy now in history and probably the most truly multiethnic society on the face of the Earth. And I am convinced that neither one of those things would be true today had it not been for the importance of the First Amendment. And the fact that we have kept faith with it for 200 years.”

God Bless You President Clinton. Let’s hope Indiana and the United States can still keep the faith in 2015.

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