I have read SO MANY articles and social media posts in the last few days bashing the new Indiana "pro-discrimination" law. The thing is, pretty much every reason I have read for opposing this law seems misinformed.
So, let's get clear on some things about the new Indiana law and some common bad reasons to oppose it.
First, here is what the law says: government can't substantially burden a person's exercise of religion and that individuals who feel like their religious beliefs have been or could be "substantially burdened" can lean on this law to fend off lawsuits.
So, what does it mean to "substantially burden" a person's exercise of religion? Consider the following case:
Sam is a Christian and a wedding photographer. It is part of Sam's religious beliefs that same-sex marriage is against God's will. Sam feels convicted that using his talent and resources to provide for a same-sex wedding ceremony is supporting and participating in an event that is sinful. So, if the government required Sam to provide his photography services for same-sex weddings, it would be requiring him to act against his religious convictions and partake in something he believed to be - not to be too dramatic here - A SIN AGAINST GOD.
In sum, this law is to protect people like Sam from being forced to act against their deeply-held religious convictions. This doesn't seem so harmful, but many people are concerned that this law will make it legal for businesses to refuse service to the LGBTQ community. In fact, many are requesting major conventions and sporting events to boycott Indiana because businesses will not be welcoming to everyone. So, let's consider some of the common bad reasons for opposing this law.
Bad reason #1: This law will let any businesses who disagree with certain lifestyles to refuse service to disenfranchised groups, like the LGBTQ community, making life even more difficult for them.
Reality: This is just false. The law requires that providing the service would be a substantial burden. Now, the interpretation of substantial burden will be left open to courts, but legal professionals confirm that the law is aimed at cases like Sam's and not cases where businesses deny service just because they don't want to or it makes them socially uncomfortable. CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin confirmed that the law wouldn't stand up against businesses refusing to serve a gay person, but it would stand up against refusal to service a gay wedding. So, major conventions and sporting events need not worry that the law will allow their homosexual guests to be discriminated against during their tourist activities. But still, it seems like those calling for relocation of major events believe...
Bad reason #2: Many businesses in Indiana will actually start discriminating against the LGBTQ community.
Reality: Again, false. There have been no cited examples of this kind of discrimination happening in Indiana, and many businesses are putting up signs making it clear that they serve everyone. Sure, there might be a few cases like this guy who is happy that it is now legal to refuse to serve gay patrons at his restaurant. But the law doesn't actually protect cases like his, and I'd guess he's a rare case. Even though many American citizens are opposed to homosexuality for religious reasons, not many have religious convictions that it would be wrong to serve homosexuals in business. For example, I've been in Christian communities all my life and I've met hundreds of people who believe homosexuality is wrong. How many have I met that believe it is wrong to serve homosexuals? Zero. It is only special sectors like the wedding industry that would be an issue. But some people might believe that the law shouldn't protect wedding vendors because, after all,...
Bad reason #3: It's about business, not personal beliefs.
Reality: Businesses aren't moral agents, people are. When businesses are corrupt, we blame the people making bad decisions. And integrity requires that we act according to our convictions in all areas of our lives. Businesses shouldn't be all about economics and increasing profits. We praise business owners that make decisions that improve the lives of their employees or customers, especially if it means they sacrifice profits (for example, retailers that close one day a week for employees to have a day off). So condeming religious people for sacrificing profit based on personal convictions is inappropriate. In fact, it would be very concerning if we required people to act against their conscience because we don't want to harden people against their moral convictions. Sure, people might have misguided convictions, but it seems to me the appropriate response is not to impose a different set of convictions. Instead, we should reason with and disciple these people so they mature in their understanding. Furthermore, I don't believe a just government should dictate moral beliefs for its citizens.
Bad reason #4: Christians are picking on homosexuals because they believe homosexuality is a sin, but they aren't discriminating against people committing other types of believed-sins like pre-marital sex or liars, aka everyone on the face of the planet.
Reality: This law isn't about discriminating against the lifestyles of other people. It is about protecting people from having to engage in the believed-to-be sin themselves. So, Sam wouldn't be protected from refusing service to a couple engaging in pre-marital sex because providing photography for the wedding is not supporting the pre-marital sex. Sam is only protected in refusing to service a same-sex wedding, NOT because he is bullying homosexuals or he is more offended by homosexuality than other sins, but because he believes participating in a same-sex wedding is participating in the believed-to-be sin himself.
I'll probably add more bad reasons that I've read later, but my rant is over for now.