The height of absurdity in the freak-out over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act was reached when Connecticut’s Democrat governor, Dan Malloy, announced he would issue an executive order banning state-funded travel to Indiana because, as he put it, “when new laws turn back the clock on progress, we can’t sit idly by… we are sending a message that discrimination won’t be tolerated.”
Connecticut already has its own version of the RFRA. It’s been in place since 1993. And by some measurements, it’s more aggressive in protecting religious liberty than Indiana’s law is.
Will Malloy also forbid state funding of travel within his own state, or maybe relocate his entire administration to a state that doesn’t have any sort of religious-freedom laws? He’ll have a bit of work finding one, and then there’s the little matter of the federal legislation co-sponsored by Ted Kennedy, signed by Bill Clinton, and supported by Senator Barack Obama, during one of his occasional politically-expedient bouts of pretending to be a serious Christian.
Sean Davis at The Federalist sees Malloy’s executive-order grandstanding as “proof that the recent backlash against religious freedom laws is grounded in pure ignorance,” but I don’t think that’s true. Malloy might not be the sharpest tool in the drawer, but he certainly has advisers familiar with Connecticut law. Likewise, we can write all sorts of scholarly dissertations on what Indiana’s law actually says – including Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s desire to “clarify” the law – and it won’t make any difference, because the “Boycott Indiana” crowd isn’t listening. It doesn’t want to know what the law says. It only knows how it feels about what it says, and more importantly, how it feels about the people who support religious-freedom amendments.
This is all about the collectivist expression of hatred and contempt for Christians, traditionalists, and even people who have no particular beef against same-sex marriage but consider states’ rights and religious freedom important.
It’s no coincidence that this topsy-turvy debate treats hypothetical scenarios about what religious-freedom laws might empower as if they were unspeakable outrages that have already occurred, while treating the very real compulsion leveled against individuals of religious faith as if they were speculative. Indiana is getting pummeled because it is perceived as fighting back against a judgment that was supposed to be final – how dare the state gear up for ideological combat on the designated-losing side in a war that’s supposed to be over?
Let’s not be coy about the sheer bigotry on display in the Boycott Indiana movement – even a federal employee at the Labor Department has been caught frothing at the mouth over “red-state Christians,” referring to them as “Nazis” and promising their resistance to collectivism “will not end well for them.” A great deal of modern collectivist politics is about taking joy from the perceived defeat and suffering of hated enemies – an attitude extremely useful to collectivists, because whipping up support by punishing and dominating culturally-sanctioned targets of hatred is a lot easier than successfully managing public finances or running an efficient government.
Beyond the seething hatred, there’s a broad feeling of contempt. Even those who insist they don’t hate religious folk believe their priorities are illogical and irrelevant, measured against the urgency of universally imposing collective moral judgment through the power of the State. To put it simply, the less hateful opponents of religious-freedom protections don’t believe the objections of religious people are sincere. They don’t believe there is any such thing as conscientious objection to same-sex marriage, or contraception mandates, or a growing list of other Big Government priorities which conflict with religious faith. They think the objectors are irrationally dedicated to old traditions out of inertia, or perhaps out of a malevolent desire to preserve an obsolete social order, or simply because they hate homosexuals… at which point the contemptuous wing of religious-liberty opposition finds itself nodding along with the passionate rhetoric of the haters.
Passion is persuasive, which is why the Left works so hard to de-legitimize every passionate argument its enemies could make. Religious liberty has become something believers have to beg for, on bent knee, hats in hand, while mumbling a stream of apologies about how they’re not motivated by personal animosity toward anyone. Their adversaries are free to question their very humanity, dismissing matters of faith and conscience with a sneer. The collectivists know what you’re really thinking, faithful churchgoers, no matter what you say, or what protections the Constitution supposedly offers you. They have ruled your concerns illegitimate, so you’re wasting your time with legal arguments or fond reminiscence about the ideals of America’s founding.
The new ideal requires absolute faith in the Church of the State, whose high priests style themselves as incarnations of popular will. There can be no shelter from their pronouncements, which are always described as the wise judgment of an overwhelming majority, no matter what the actual poll numbers say. And don’t even try telling them how concerned the Founders were about the “tyranny of the majority.” That phrase produces crash bugs and system error messages when fed into the minds of a modern collectivist. How can anything the “majority” sanctions be “tyrannical?” Everyone knows there can’t be tyranny as long as our supreme leaders are required to stand for periodic re-election – one drop of democracy dissolves a million gallons of tyranny, don’t you know?
The Ruling Class has big plans for this country, and they can’t afford any more populist or legal support for the idea that personal religious conviction can stand against the will of the State. There is no “religious liberty” in the United States any more. Oh, you’re allowed to practice whatever quaint ceremonies you might enjoy in private, but the State draws the perimeter of “private” conduct according to Ruling Class whim… and it’s drawing that boundary smaller with every passing month. The law speaks of tests for “compelling government interest,” but our current political culture says all of government’s interests are compelling, while none of yours are worth inconveniencing any favored client of the State to defend.
The balance of power between individuals and the collective has been forever tipped in favor of the latter. All objections to the imposition of collective will are frivolous and insincere – if you don’t like high taxes, you’re greedy; if you oppose extremist environmental legislation, you’re a corporate tool who wants to help your paymasters rape the Earth; if you oppose the latest Big Government offensive in the “War On Women,” or even dare to question its more fanciful statistics and fabricated anecdotes, you’re a misogynist; only racists would object to the dominant political culture’s prescriptions for fighting racism; and so forth. The individual is now guilty until proven innocent, selfish until proven virtuous, and insincere until proven… well, sorry, but you can’t prove your sincerity any more. You either belong to a group judged 100 percent heartfelt by New York-D.C.-L.A. culture, or you don’t.
Measuring sincerity on an individual basis is too much work, and the presumption of sincerity is too inconvenient for those who desire power, and those who view compulsive force as a way to resolve their grievances.