Arthur Christopher Schaper
State Senator Donna Nesselbush (D-Pawtucket), an ambitious, brazen, and openly gay politician, recently attacked the Indiana state legislature and Governor for passing a law which protect the civil rights, i.e. the religious liberties of individuals, small businesses, churches, and charities, granting them a stronger threshold for engaging the First Amendment as a legal protection.
Beyond a state legislature in Rhode Island, nationwide media cohorts, academics, and left-wing agitators slammed Governor Mike Pence and the Republican legislature for bigotry against gays and lesbians. In spite of his best efforts to defend both the spirit as well as letter of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Pence caved, as did his conservative cohorts, and they changed the law. Following corporate as well as media pressure, the state of Arkansas’ GOP trifecta followed suit.
Conservatives across the country, and Americans in general, should be livid that in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, state governments must write laws to enhance and enforce or liberties, then enjoin the federal government to respect those Constitutional liberties. A deeper disappointment, however, depends on the sudden shock, awe, and craven caving of conservatives in those deep red states.
If the Governor of Indiana, a former red-blooded Republican Congressman who claimed “I am a Christian first, a conservative a second, a Republican last” cannot stand his ground on the basic tenet of religious liberty, who will? Aside from Rep Mike Chippendale (R-Foster) and a few others, not many politicians are standing for religious liberty in Rhode Island. In some cases, the aberrant lifestyle and corruption have meet together (Gordon Fox, and perhaps David Cicilline). Even former mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci forced Providence firefighters to march in a gay pride parade.
As for the Indiana and Arkansas legislation, the language outlined clear tests to protect individual liberties from undue government burdens. In no way did these laws permit or enable discrimination based on race or color. The statue would protect individuals of conscience from participating in certain activities, such as baking a cake for a gay wedding.
On a side note, the argument that discrimination includes homosexual conduct is losing steam, and politicians as well as professionals are starting to ask: Are people really born gay? Should homosexuality be a protected class? Martin Luther King, Jr., the Founding Father of America’s Modern Civil Rights Movement, did not think so. He counseled a young charge who struggled with same-sex attraction to seek help. What would Rhode Island’s Founding Father Roger Williams have said about religious freedom and tolerance in connection with homosexuality? One blog site suggested that Williams would have maintained marriage between one man and one woman:
On the one hand, the civil order has no sway in religious matters, of which marriage surely is one. On the other hand, the magistrates are to cast “a blush of civility and morality” over the populace, and homosexuality is surely a moral issue.
In a recent press releasem Nesselbush not only shamed the state of Indiana for “authorizing their businesses to discriminate”, but welcomed “persecuted homosexuals” and enlightened entrepreneurs to relocate to Rhode Island.
Regarding “discrimination”. . .
Businesses routinely discriminate when they refuse service to disorderly individuals, or patrons who refuse to wears shoes or a shirt. Some businesses post a sign reading: “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” It’s about proprietary rights, pure and simple.
Still, Nesselbush declared:
My heart goes out to all gay and lesbian Hoosiers who may become victims of this law.
“May become?” How about the Hoosiers who have been victimized by uncivil militants, like Memories Pizzeria?
Why spend your money and pay your taxes in a state that has enacted backward laws like this one? Come to Rhode Island, a state that has embraced marriage equality without advancing discrimination in the name of religion. In Rhode Island, we practice religious liberty without trampling on civil rights.
Inclusiveness? In Rhode Island? Tell that to the tens of thousands of professionals, homeowners, businessmen, entrepreneurs, and college students who cannot find a job, who are witnessing the dissolving insolvency of cities and state because of spendthrift Democrats.
Besides, the federal government has enacted RFRA laws, and so has (*gasp*) Rhode Island. Where’s the outrage, Sen. Nesselbush? Has she demanded a revision of Rhode Island’s own RFRA? Furthermore, does she have anything to say about Muslims who refused to bake a gay marriage wedding cake? What about the refusal from gay friendly bakeries to make a cake recognizing marriage as between one man and one woman? How about the imposed censorship against a campus newspaper at Roger Williams University?
Now, how would Williams have reacted to the freedom of conscience of Christian businesses protecting their freedom of conscience, and refusing to engage in certain kinds of business?
The Boston Globe published a review of John Barry’s biography Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty, which included the following reflection:
Williams wrote, “I commend that man, whether Jew, or Turk, or Papist, or whoever, that steers no otherwise than his conscience dares.” Williams believed, in effect, that even the intolerant must be tolerated, which would become a bedrock principle of liberal democracy.
In other words, Williams respected freedom of conscience, thus siding with the Christians who refuse to bake a wedding cake, take photographs, or provide flowers for a homosexual wedding. Nesselbush distorts the Indiana controversy and RI founder Roger Williams’ legacy of religious liberty and tolerance. Based on her flawed estimation, Williams is just as much an insufferable bigot as the residents of Indiana and all other Americans who regard freedom of religion (and conscience) as sacrosanct. Judging from her own rhetoric, would Nesselbush banish Williams form his own state? Or would she refuse to bake him a cake?t
Arthur Christopher Schaper is a writer, blogger, and political commentator on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance.