Monday, April 20, 2015

ADF touts NC "Religious Freedom" law by leaving out the good stuff

Alliance Defending Freedom, the Christian legal group, is out with 3 Reasons Why North Carolina Needs A Religious Freedom Law. It's what they don't say that identifies the problem.

ADF points out the majority opinion by Justice Scalia in Employment Division v. Smith. In one of Scalia's saner moments he wrote that religious exemptions to otherwise valid laws make those laws unenforceable. As ADF further points out, the federal RFRA does not apply to the states. ADF then explains that “there have not been widespread cases of discrimination against LGBT.” According to them it has perfectly benign benefits like allowing a Muslim prisoner to grow a beard or putting the brakes on a Ft. Lauderdale ordinance that prohibited a Christian from distributing food to the homeless. Who wants to prevent a Christian from giving food to starving children? There must be a puppy in this image.

Here's what they fail to mention. According to the text of the proposed legislation:
§ 147-103. Free Exercise of Religion Protected.
(a) State action shall not burden a person's right to exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless it is demonstrated that applying the burden to that person's exercise of religion in this particular instance:
(1) Is essential to further a compelling governmental interest; and
(2) Is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
The United States Religious Freedom Restoration Act reads a bit differently (as do most state RFRAs):
Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability …
The omission of one word (“substantially”) makes the intent quite clear:

“We don't serve your kind here!”

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