SB 101, known as "Religious Freedom Restoration," recently ratified by the Indiana House and Senate, and to be signed in private ceremony by our self-professed Christian governor, Mike Pence proves something I've long said. When Indiana finally moved into the 20th century in 2006, I joked that we may be in sync timewise with the rest of the Eastern time zone, but it was still 1973 here.
I was wrong. More like 1963. Which is especially ironic on this 50th anniversary observance of the events of Selma. This is an irony lost on the state legislators who approved this act and on our governor who is set to sign it -- in a private ceremony. Gosh. One would hate to have a public ceremony where, gasp, somebody whose religion (or no religion) might be there to protest that their faith (or non-faith) needed no such restoration. After all, though Pence, et al, may not be aware of it, that matter was supposed to be settled in 1792, in amendment one of the constitution -- "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Freedom of (or from) religion has been long established.
This new bill, repackaged old discrimination, especially concerns me because of my religious freedom and the beliefs I hold. I'm a Quaker. I believe in the equality of all people. I believe that at a variety of levels. The equality of all people to worship as they will, to work where they will, to live where they want, to vote, to shop where they want.
Well, everywhere but Indiana, I guess. Though this bill is aimed, not even subtly, against Indiana's gay citizens, there's no reason it couldn't be used against its agnostic citizens, mixed race couple citizens, Hispanic citizens, Jewish citizens, Buddhist citizens, Black citizens, ... "My faith says that Muslims are infidels and so I don't have to serve them."
What happens when a Muslim taxi driver refuses to take on of our good Christian legislators to the airport based on the driver's understanding of the commands of the Koran?
As I said, I'm a Quaker. We Quaker have faced discrimination before -- but not much openly in the past 300 years. But in the name of "Religious Freedom" for themselves, in 1659 and 1660 the Puritans of Boston not only refused service to three Quakers but decided to hang them for ... gasp ... being Quakers. William Robinson, Marmaduke Stephenson, and Mary Dyer were hanged on Boston Common.
That couldn't happen today, I guess. But not long enough ago, on August 7, 1930,two African American teenagers charged with murder —Tom Shipp and Abe Smith -- were dragged from their cell in Marion, Indiana and lynched on the courthouse lawn. No one was convicted of this crime.