Chris Ferrara – The Utter Failure of Religious Liberty Restoration Acts
[Originally published on 5 April, 2015] Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – “There are fewer and fewer places now where you can retreat to to try and make a stand. The fact that Indiana is being compelled to capitulate on this, is being compelled to recant, is being compelled to basically admit their own error in the first instance nearly delegitimizes that meeting of the legislature. It renders it moot.” Check out today’s transcript AND Clip of The Day for the rest….
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Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: They think that there are really and truly some existential things that are in play here right now, that if we’re not paying attention to this, I fail to see what crisis could emerge, short of actual French Revolution-style war being waged against Catholics and against Christians professing any faith, by the State. It seems to me that this is the next logical step. If we remain unrepentant and refuse the institution of what I compare to the sharia law, which the radical sex revolutionistas are trying to ram down our throats now, whether it be illicit heterosexual sex, which they’ve been ramming down our throats since the 1960s, and now illicit homosexual sex ramming it down our throat. If we remain unrepentant, I don’t know if they’ll use the guillotine to get rid of us, but it seems to me that that has to be the next logical step, that if we are an impediment to them and what they view as a perfect world, which means we can’t be in it, then they’re going to have to get rid of us.
Chris Ferrara: It’s all about keeping Christians down. The whole enlightenment project has demonstrated that. We’re coming to the end stage of a long process by which the State, at war with religion, is coming in for the kill. [private FP-Monthly|FP-Yearly|FP-Yearly-WLK|FP-Yearly-So76] This whole ridiculous spectacle in Indiana, this black comedy of a governor who signs a bill purporting to guarantee religious freedom to Indiana citizens and then has to furiously backpedal because the so-called “gays” don’t like it, that’s typical of what we’re going through now.
But let’s situate it in a religious context. This is Holy Week. What happened during Holy Week? Jesus Christ is crucified. And what happens during his encounter with the equivalent of the modern State back in his time, with Pontius Pilate, the procurator? Pilate asks him: Are you a king then? Jesus says: Thou sayest that I am a king.
For this I was born and for this I came into the world. I shall give testimony to the truth. Everyone that is of the truth, here is my voice. And what is Pilate’s reply? What is truth? That’s the voice of the modern State asking that question. That’s the voice of pluralism and inclusiveness. And that’s the voice that puts the Christian to death spiritually long before they come for your body. This is was de Tocqueville noted about America, by the way. In the court of public opinion, you can be hung out to dry, effectively executed, banned from public life because you step outside the circle of accepted opinion. In America, he said, there was actually less freedom of opinion, truly speaking, than anywhere else in the Western world because of this tyranny of public opinion.
Now we see the governor running away from the law that he signed. What does that law say? It’s a rather subtle legal question. If you want, I can go into it. I think we have to situate it in a larger context at the end. The law is a state-level equivalent of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. What is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act at the federal level? Well, this is a measure passed by Congress, with a lot of liberal support by the way, paradoxically enough, after the Supreme Court decision in the Smith case, which involved a couple people using peyote in Oregon. They were denied unemployment benefits even though they claimed that their religion required the ceremonial use of peyote. The Supreme Court upheld the denial of benefits. In a famous dictum, Justice Scalia said: Laws of “general applicability” trump religious freedom. As long as they’re “neutral” laws and they apply generally, they trump religious freedom to the extent that one cannot assert against the application of these laws any religious beliefs. So Congress leapt into the fray and said: We’re going to pass the Religious Freedom Restoration Act at the federal level. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act says basically that a government entity may not burden a person’s religion, even if the burden results from a so-called neutral law of general applicability, unless there is a compelling State interest to justify burdening your religious belief.
Here’s the problem with that law, Mike. A judge can always find a compelling State interest in some state law. The compelling State interest isn’t really much of a protection, so it’s rather laughable that Pence is running away even from that limited protection. In Indiana, what the gays, so-called, are up in arms about is that potentially – even though Indiana has no statewide statute banning discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation – potentially at a local level in cities where they have these local public accommodation ordinances, there are so-called protections for people based on so-called sexual orientation in various cities.
So someone who is a homosexual and wants to marry his boyfriend could walk into a bake shop and say: I want a wedding cake with two men on it. The Christian proprietor of the bake shop could say: I can’t do that. I’m not going to validate your wedding. I’ll sell you a wedding cake, but I’ll just sell you a cake. You do with it what you will. No, says the gay activist, I want two men on the wedding cake, and if you don’t give it to me, I’m going to file an administrative complaint against you in the city of whatever. What this Indiana law was supposed to do was supposed to do was to protect, in that case, the religious scruples or convictions of somebody in that situation in a local administrative proceeding. This is what the homosexual activists are up in arms about. That’s going to be a bigger issue if Indiana ever adopts a statewide law protecting sexual orientation. So here’s Pence now saying: I’m going to fix it. Don’t worry, I’ll fix it. Essentially Pence, under fire from the tyranny of public opinion, is now saying he’s going to undo the law he just enacted.
Why is this happening? Let’s situate it again in a religious context. Because the modern State, confronted by Christ, answers this question about truth by asking: What is truth? It pretends it doesn’t know what the truth is. The result is basically Christians ultimately are the only ones that are going to take it in the neck because they are the only ones that are willing to stand up for the truth even when it means persecution. There was an essay written recently, a pretty stunning piece of work by Archbishop Luigi Negri. He’s the Archbishop of Ferrara, named after my family line, Ferrara-Comacchio in Italy. Here’s what he said. He said:
Our civilization has ended. A society on the brink of death would not even have the capacity to initiate an authentic and critical examination of its own life . . . These are all those who have persecuted dialogue beyond all limits; all those who deep inside themselves have more fear of the Christian Faith than the barbarism of fundamentalist Islamic ideology.
Ferrara: That’s what this is all about, the fear and loathing of Christ and his law. That’s the foundation of the problem. It’s useless to deny it any longer. During Holy Week, I think it’s time for people who profess themselves to be Christians to wake up to what is going on. This is a persecution of Christ and his followers by the modern nation-state. That’s what’s going on.
Mike: There’s a lot of opinion out there about this today. I was reading earlier an essay that was posted by a gentleman who goes by the penname Sardonic Ex Curia. Sardonic Ex Curia, in his essay “Sunset of the West” concludes:
We are at war. It is a war we did not wish, but it is thrust upon us. And the sooner we realize it, the sooner we can raise the barricades. We must take every opportunity in law to argue against the eventuality. But we should not expect the law to do much for us any longer. There are those who will say that what is written here is “divisive” or seeks no compromise.
This is untrue. For we must compromise, if only to hold the peace as long as possible, while we form communities and keep alive what tradition and religion we can. But, while we will not breach the compromise (laughably, the RFRA is seen as such by many!), it will certainly be broken. The fleeting withdrawal from the federal RFRA has shown us as much. And the refusal to read and understand – this law, our religious faiths, the philosophy of the West – is evidence that compromise may be possible only for a little while longer.
Mike: That’s what your Archbishop Negri is basically saying. The dike has burst open. There are fewer and fewer places now where you can retreat to to try and make a stand. The fact that Indiana is being compelled to capitulate on this, is being compelled to recant, is being compelled to basically admit their own error in the first instance nearly delegitimizes that meeting of the legislature. It renders it moot. All that one must do now in order to get something overturned, a law that they don’t like, is rear an angry enough mob to threaten economic extortion. [mocking] “No, no, we don’t have any moral code here. You guys misunderstood. We’re all about pedophilia here. We love bigamy. We’ll do your polygamy and polyamory laws. Just stop. Don’t make fun of us anymore.”
Ferrara: Consider the implications of what’s going on in Indiana and will soon be happening in Arkansas. It is no longer permissible for any public figure, for any legislator, for any judge to hold that sodomy is immoral and should not be countenanced by law. It’s no longer permitted. If you were to say, in any effective way, or attempt to say in any effective way, that sodomy is a sin and that legislation and institutions should reflect the character of this sin and the effect it has on social order, you’re finished. That’s where we stand today. Sodomy is a right and those who oppose sodomy are outcasts and face political extinction, and, soon enough I would think, actual physical persecution because they stand up to one of the sins that the Church has always taught cries out to Heaven for vengeance. You’re not allowed to say that anymore. This, they tell us, is the marvelous regime of religious liberty of which America has been boasting for more than 250 years. What can one say?
End Mike Church Show Transcript