Tags: Exclusive Interviews | Gay Marriage | Indiana Religious Freedom | MidPoint | Religion | liberals | religious

Federalist's Davis: Religious Freedom Under Coordinated Assault

By    |   Monday, 06 April 2015 06:21 PM

Liberals joined forces to trash Indiana's religious freedom law because, more than just legal recognition of gay marriage, they want compulsory "affirmation" of the institution from everybody, and they view such laws as an obstacle to achieving that, says a conservative media executive.

"There's an organized effort among a lot of people on the left to say civil unions wasn't enough, same-sex marriage wasn't enough," Sean Davis, co-founder of the online opinion journal The Federalist, told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV on Monday.

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"Now what they want to see is religious business owners, regardless of whether they're Christian or atheist or Muslim or Jewish — they want the affirmation of those groups," said Davis, also COO of the watchdog site Media Trackers and a former chief investigator on the staff of U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn.

"If that takes tearing down the religious freedom fabric that this nation was built on, that's not going to stop them," said Davis.

Religious freedom laws at the state and national level have been on the books since 1993, beginning with the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) passed and signed by Democrats, Davis noted.

"The fact that we've gone 20-plus years without any real problems, and then suddenly one faction decided that these [laws] were the worst things since Jim Crow, tells me there's an agenda at work," he said, "and it's not an agenda that favors religious freedom."

Comparisons between Indiana's RFRA and racist Jim Crow laws of old have cropped up in debates about the statute.

The state legislature and governor signed off on a rewrite Thursday — barely a week after the original bill went into effect — to quell charges that the law allowed business owners with religious sensibilities to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

Critics said the law was meant to indemnify, say, the Christian baker or wedding photographer who refuses work from a same-sex couple because the business owner's religious faith deems homosexual behavior as sinful.

Davis said critics' comparisons to a "horrible era" of codified racial discrimination from America's past "really strains credulity."

"That was government-mandated, government-forced segregation across the board," he said of Jim Crow laws. "What we have here is not people being denied services or separate lunch counters. We have individuals saying, 'I would rather not participate in that particular religious ceremony,' and that's it. To compare that to Jim Crow is rather absurd."

Davis said the Indiana law became a flashpoint in part because activists wanted it to.

"If you look at the evidence, you see some coordinated effort," he said. "This thing didn't just bubble up out of nowhere: a faction basically decided that they were going to make an issue of this, and that they were going to make religious freedom the next battle in the war to implement same-sex marriage across the country."

He rejected the argument that Indiana politicians, including Republican Gov. Mike Pence, abetted the furor, either by allowing flawed language in the statute or by failing to assure people beforehand that it was not intended to license discrimination.

"I'm not sure that's really fair," said Davis, adding, "These laws have been relatively uncontroversial for 22 years, and to say that somehow Indiana should've seen this uproar coming or that maybe they didn't have a comma or a semicolon in the right place — I don't buy that."

Moreover, he argued, laws like Indiana's were bound to become targets.

"Religious freedom gets in the way of a lot of what the secular left wants to see," said Davis.

He also discussed the family-owned pizza parlor in Indiana that closed indefinitely last week under a barrage of criticism after its Christian proprietors backed the law in a local television news interview and said they would not cater a gay wedding.

An Internet campaign on the family's behalf has raised more than $842,000 in five days to keep the business going.

"It tells us that there's quite a divide going on, but that people don't tolerate it when members of the media go and try and seek out what they believe are bad guys," said Davis.

"Who has a wedding pizza?" he said. "Yet there were reporters going and looking for a villain, looking for somebody to tar, and that Go Fund Me campaign shows you how many people have had enough with that. They don't want to see the media turning perfectly innocent people into villains."

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Liberals joined forces to trash Indiana's religious freedom law because, more than just legal recognition of gay marriage, they want compulsory "affirmation" of the institution from everybody, and they view such laws as an obstacle to achieving that, says a conservative media executive.
liberals, religious, freedom, affirmation
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2015-21-06
Monday, 06 April 2015 06:21 PM
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