March 27, 2015 (DailySignal.com) — In a victory for religious freedom, earlier today Gov. Mike Pence, R-Ind., signed into law the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This is good policy that protects the fundamental freedom of Indiana citizens from unnecessary and unreasonable government coercion.
The Indiana law is based on the 1993 federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act—a law that has served the American people well for more than 20 years. Passed with 97 votes in the Senate and by unanimous voice vote in the House, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton. This federal law prohibits substantial government burdens on religious exercise unless the government can show a compelling interest in burdening religious liberty and does so through the least restrictive means.
No one has the right to have the government force a particular minister to marry them, or a certain photographer to capture the first kiss or a baker to bake the wedding cake.
These protections for religious freedom, like the one passed in Indiana, provide a commonsense way to balance the fundamental right to religious liberty with compelling government interests. The federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects against federal government violations of religious liberty, and state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts protect against state violations.
By passing its Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Indiana joins the 19 other states that have implemented such laws. Eleven additional states have religious liberty protections that state courts have interpreted to provide a similar level of protection. These common sense laws place the on us on the government to justify its actions in burdening the free exercise of religion.
For more than twenty years, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act has never undermined our nation’s anti-discrimination laws, and it will not in Indiana.
Faith and religion are important values to millions of Hoosiers and with the passage of this legislation, we ensure that Indiana will continue to be a place where we respect freedom of religion and make certain that government action will always be subject to the highest level of scrutiny that respects the religious beliefs of every Hoosier of every faith.
The Indiana law, like all state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, prevents government discrimination against religious free exercise. Religious Freedom Restoration Acts simply provide a way to balance religious liberty with compelling government interests.
There are now numerous cases of photographers, florists, cake makers and farmers being forced to participate in celebrating same-sex weddings in violation of their belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. These are citizens who have no problem serving gays and lesbians but do object to celebrating same-sex weddings.
Religious liberty isn’t an absolute right. Religious liberty doesn’t always trump. Religious liberty is balanced with concerns for a compelling state interest that’s being pursued in the least-restrictive means possible.
But it isn’t clear that forcing every photographer and every baker and every florist to help celebrate same-sex weddings is advancing a compelling state interest in the least-restrictive way possible. Protecting religious liberty and the rights of conscience doesn’t infringe on anyone’s sexual freedoms.
No one has the right to have the government force a particular minister to marry them, or a certain photographer to capture the first kiss or a baker to bake the wedding cake. Declining to perform these services doesn’t violate anyone’s sexual freedoms. Some citizens may conclude that they cannot in good conscience participate in a same-sex ceremony, from priests and pastors to bakers and florists. The government should not force them to choose between their religious beliefs and their livelihood. . . . .
[Read the whole LifeSiteNews article online.]