Saturday, March 28, 2015

Free To Be Discriminatory You and Me...

Let's be clear. Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, an ideologically loaded name since it suggests that religious freedom, i.e., Christian freedom, has been undermined over the last several decades, doesn't mandate discrimination but it allows the religious to discriminate if what they are asked to do violates their religious scruples. The people who wrote this bill were too Machiavellianly clever to be as honest as their Jim Crow White supremacist brethren in this bill to say yes to forms of discrimination in print.

The bill will work similarly to that of similar bills on the federal level and state level. Hobby Lobby was given the right to discriminate against contraception users because it, or so the Hobby Lobby folk claimed, violated their religious principles, religious principles that go back to a thirteenth century reading of Aristotelean philosophy of telos while Indiana Amish may more clearly gain the right to avoid using a slow moving vehicle sign putting others, in the process, in danger, raising questions about Amish commitment to the common good in the process. The Amish, by the way, are legally allowed to keep their children out of school after the age of 8 in the name of religious freedom. It is, of course, in reality, a practise that keeps Amish children and particularly Amish women potentially free of any thoughts that might undermine Amish patriarchal socialisaton practises that go back to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

I suspect that what will happen with this bill will be a couple of things. We don't know what Indiana's religious "freedom" bill says, though some people seem to know what it says before it is even available to read online, but if it is akin to that of Illinois it will allow the state to prosecute groups who violate state and federal non-discrimation statues. The state has to want to prosecute, however. It certainly does provide cover for those who want to discriminate and claim that their discrimination is the product of their religion. Given that there are laws in conflict here--religious exemptions for discriminatory practises and federal and state laws against specific discrimination--these cases will probably end up in the courts costing American taxpayers money. If Hobby Lobby is a guide, religious "freedom" will trump civil rights at the US Supreme Court as presently constituted. The US Supreme Court does have a bevy of White Male Catholic conservatives in its midst after all who seem to be guided by more by Catholic and conservative Christian ideology rather than the secular common American good.

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