The United States Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion. The Religious Freedom and Restoration Act of 1993, which passed Congress with nearly unanimous bipartisan support before being signed into law by President Clinton, endorses this constitutional guarantee. The vast majority of states have similar laws and court rulings further securing this natural liberty. Religious freedom is one of the founding principles of our representative republic.
Why would some national media outlets and networks, among others, criticize the State of Indiana for recently enacting such a law? I can think of only three possible explanations: 1) they are ignorant of the law and the Constitution; 2) the editorial predisposition of these news organization is in opposition to the free exercise of religion; and 3) Indiana enjoys conservative leadership and a possible aspirant for the presidency in 2016.
For most of us, our beliefs provide a moral framework for greater civility. Tolerance of our differences, be they religious, ethnic, gender, skin pigmentation, and even our transient judgements about the daily happenings in our lives, certifies our continuing viability as a people and as a sovereign nation. Stifling the free exercise and expression of diverse religious beliefs is not religious tolerance.
Contrary to the failed arguments of the politically and ideologically motivated talking heads, the free exercise of religion does not give license to criminal or civil violations. No matter what your religious or irreligious motivations, you are not allowed to break the law, and this includes laws regarding discrimination.
Historically, nations dominated by a single national religion tended toward tyrannical rule. Nations with two or few competing religions often descended into chaos and civil war. Ironically, the multi-ethnic, multi-religion character of the United States results in greater tolerance of diverse religious perspectives. Maintaining that tolerance is vital to our prosperity. We should do everything in our power to keep governments out of our personal and spiritual lives.
Whatever your religion, I hope you have a wonderful day on this glorious Palm Sunday, 2015.