The Need for RFRA

While Rabbi Shafran outlined so well the failure to protect religious freedom from the gay marriage agenda, the headlines are piling up fast and furious to show us why legislation to protect our rights is so badly needed — and the Obama administration is clearly leading the charge.

In oral arguments in favor of same-sex marriage being a national right, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli explicitly said that as a result, religious universities would be unable to function in accordance with their own beliefs:

Not satisfied with that answer, Justice Alito brought up the Bob Jones case, where the Court held that a college was not entitled to tax-exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating. He asked if the same would apply to a college or university that opposed same sex marriage.

“You know, I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue,” Verrilli said. “I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It’s going to be an issue.”

And today we read of a criminal investigation of two ministers operating a for-profit wedding chapel, because they can only consecrate the union of a man and a woman. In Colorado, of course, a baker was forced out of the business of making wedding cakes, because he refused to make one for a same-sex wedding.

Note than in the Idaho wedding chapel case, someone called them up two days after the law went into effect. With apologies to those who insist it’s simply coincidence, I find it chilling — signs of an effort to deliberately shut all “people of [traditional] faith” out of the business world.

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11 Responses

  1. Lisa Liel says:

    Personally, I’ve been arguing for years that religious institutions shouldn’t have tax exempt status. No institutions should. If we’re going to be taxed, we should all be taxed. If an institution can’t operate under those circumstances, there are other problems there.

    The bakery was a terrible thing. No one should be forced to do business with someone they don’t want to do business with. But that’s the kind of country we live in. If someone wants to deny me service because I’m Jewish, they can’t do that. I think that’s wrong, but it’s the law of the land. I don’t understand why it should be different for gay people. Such “anti-discrimination” laws should be tossed, because what they really are is anti-freedom.

  2. Bob Miller says:

    So Lisa, is there no abomination too vile for even you to tolerate and facilitate? Or is no line ever to be drawn?

  3. lacosta says:

    unfortunately, the RFRA acts going forward will like the recent Indiana case , not allow religions to discriminate against protected classes —- so the brooklyn wedding halls better prepare for two chassan tishes or kalla rooms….

  4. DF says:

    I don’t know if there’s any concerted effort to drive the religious out of business, but the point is well taken regardless. There is a need for RFRA, and frankly, it doesn’t go far enough. There is an inherent contradiction between discrimination laws and freedom of religion, just as it conflicts with freedom of speech. Courts keep putting bandaids over the rips and tears, but at some point the whole patchwork of jurisprudence attempting to reconcile the two will burst open. It has to.

  5. Tal Benschar says:


    We have been over this ground many times. In EVERY case where the issue has come up, the business involved has stated that they have no problem serving gay people the same as anyone else. What they object to is participating in, or being forced to express approval of, something they strongly disapprove of. Selling someone a danish has no connection to the customer’s private life. (If a bakery selling me a danish asked me about my marital situation, I would answer, none of your business.) Making a made-to-order wedding cake, in contrast, especially one with a written message on it, does, because a wedding cake symbolizes a celebration of a wedding, at least in the U.S.

    As far as taxing institutions, the legal distinction is between for-profit and not-for-profit institutions. The latter serve a very different social function than the former, and I think it is reasonable to exempt them from taxes.

  6. Rafael Araujo says:

    It was only a matter of time. Even the exemption for clergy is under attack, as you can see here:

    Now, this was later dropped, and the Texas Senate just passed a bill (2048) that would ban subpoenas for the production of religious sermons, but this is an indication of where proponents of gay marriage are going with this – to wipe any religious (right) opposition to gay marriage and way of life.

  7. Yaakov Menken says:

    Let’s say I went into a Catholic caterer and demanded they cater a kosher wedding. And even if I offered to pay all possible costs for doing it entirely Kosher, he still said no — because in his view the old laws of Kosher are no longer relevant or moral, and besides, he only approves of a union consecrated under JC.

    How far would I get if I sued him? Right. But gays are treated much, much differently than religious people — or Jews.

  8. Rafael Araujo says:

    Right now, when gays rights and the rights of religious persons who object to gay marriage in Canada and the US conflict, the courts consistently override the rights of religious persons to put their views on gay marriage into action. Its going to continue along this path because our society views traditional religious observance as anathema to the goals of creating a secular, humanist society that is inclusive of all.

  9. Steve Brizel says:

    R Menken is 100% on the mark-any faith based community’s practices or beliefs are the subject and target of the “lawfare” and web based hysteria of anyone who views traditional views of marriage as obstacles to full “tolerance” of same gender ceremonies.

  10. Yehoshua D says:

    “Let’s say I went into a Catholic caterer and demanded they cater a kosher wedding. And even if I offered to pay all possible costs for doing it entirely Kosher, he still said no — because in his view the old laws of Kosher are no longer relevant or moral, and besides, he only approves of a union consecrated under JC.”
    This is not a good mashal. In your case, you are asking them to provide a service (a kosher wedding) that their business does not provide. In this case, the customers are asking for a service that the business provides to others.
    Listen, this is a complicated issue. While one does have sympathy for the bakery, the question is how far one would take it. Would you also support the right of a bakery to refuse to provide a wedding cake to a mixed-race couple? Perhaps you are unaware, but the laws against mixed-race marriages is many states were grounded in our very own Chumash, in parshas Noach.

  11. Yaakov Menken says:

    Actually, the mashul is perfectly apt, but fine — reverse it. A Christian couple demands a Jewish caterer do their wedding — in a church. Or that the baker put “in JC’s name” on the cake.

    And now that you’ve stooped to silly references, they’ve had our Torah Shebiksav for 2000 years. “Grounded in parshas Noach?” Please.

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