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Professor on RFRA Protests: ‘Liberals Loved Religious Freedom Before They Hated IT’

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Thursday Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed into law the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and has been shielding himself ever since from a tirade of slings and arrows from the media, celebrities, Liberals, and even the NFL and NBA. All of this is a result of what Pence says is a law that protects religious freedom for “Hoosiers.”

Breitbart News Executive Chairman and host of Breitbart News Sunday, on Sirius XM Patriot Radio, Stephen K. Bannon, joined Dr. Matthew Franck, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Radford University in Virginia, and Breitbart contributor Austin Ruse to discuss the growing political firestorm blistering Pence and other Republicans who came out in support of RFRA.

The professor boiled the situation down to a “classic Astroturf campaign.” Unlike genuine grassroots movements that rise organically, the scorching of Pence in Indiana is a “fake grass roots campaign.” Dr. Franck explained that the main stream media, celebrities deploying social media, and wealthy foundations “bank rolling” groups like the ACLU and LBGT groups, galvanized in an effort to turn up the heat on the Indiana Governor.

Ironically, the new law shares many of the same elements of the first RFRA, which became federal law when it was signed by Democratic president Bill Clinton in 1993, recounted Dr. Franck. The law unanimously passed the House of Representatives and was sponsored by then-congressman Chuck Schumer, and passed the Senate with a 97-3 vote. Indiana adopting the law makes it the twentieth state to do so, along with such liberal states as Rhode Island and Connecticut.

“Liberals loved religious freedom before they hated it,” the professor observed. “They were for it before they were against it.”

Dr. Franck explained that Liberals “see religious freedom claims as threatening to a cultural victory that they want to secure for acceptance of the gay lifestyle, everywhere without exception.” He added that “other people’s scruples or consciences need to be cast aside. They won’t stand for it.”

Breitbart’s Executive Chairman pointed out that it’s not just marginalia like Miley Cyrus, but major CEOs of top companies coming out against the law. “Why are they calling Mike Pence and the Indiana legislators haters?” he asked Franck.

Franck said they are not haters and that the law “does not give a green light to every kind of discrimination that some people might want to engage in. It doesn’t green light any discrimination. When the government wants to impose a substantial burden on someone’s free exercise of religion it bears the burden of showing, that it has a compelling interest for laying the burden on people and that it is presumed the least restrictive means of carrying out that act.”

In other words, Dr. Franck says that the law allows for a company to have a hearing to explain why a certain transaction—like making a gay wedding cake in the case of a baker—violates their religious freedom. The hearing can produce sometimes favorable results and at other times not. Franck says that it is a “lie to say that this kind of law licenses discrimination.”

Mr. Ruse chimed in and asked “Are there now diners around the country refusing to serve gay men?” The professor laughed and said, ”No. One of the ridiculous things you hear from detractors of the law are ‘I want to feel welcome. I don’t want to go to state where I don’t feel welcome.’ No one is hanging a sign in Indiana saying ‘No Gays and Lesbians Served Here.’”

Moreover, what really is at issue here, Franck contends, is that if your values on the sanctity of life and marrige oppose the left, you’re a hateful person. “If you don’t get with the program and join them in these cultural shifts, you’re a hater, you’re a bigot, you’re a discriminator,” he asserted.

Interestingly, Dr. Franck pointed out, after Ruse asked if any cases are being won by merchants/crafters in religious freedom claims, that he didn’t know of any actual cases that occurred in states that have the RFRA. “But what these laws will do is give them a chance to plead their case… this is not a slam dunk for people trying to protect their religious freedom. It only gives them a day in court. The government will decide,” he clarified.

Franck had to agree with Bannon when he argued that the forces opposing the law—the corporations, the media, the lawyers, the NBA, the NCAA—are articulate and more organized than the proponents of RFRA. “I think this is a wakeup call for the defenders of religious liberty,” Franck said.

Ruse disagreed with the claim that religious freedom defenders are not organized. He reminded Breitbart Sunday listeners that the defenders of religious freedom won 34 state referenda over the last ten years supporting traditional marriage.

Bannon responded saying he’s not talking about the last ten years but this weekend in Indiana. “Whoever proposed this bill was caught flat-footed, you had major CEO’s coming out, so that when he average American citizen cuts into the TV they are not focused on Miley Cyrus, they are focused on major CEOs,” he said.


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