By Scott Tibbs, November 16, 2015
The Herald-Times claims that their mission is to "strive for accuracy" but they frequently fail to live up to this standard. One recent example is their highly dishonest statement that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed last year "would mean people did not have to do business with gays and lesbians if they didn't want to, based on religious grounds."
This is what I like to call a "factually correct lie." It is factually correct that RFRA (before it was gutted) would have allowed Hoosiers to refuse to do business with homosexuals, but this was never intended to be a blanket allowance for discrimination. Instead, RFRA was a response to violations of religious freedom and would have had a very narrow impact: Florists, bakers and others would not be forced to participate in a homosexual wedding.
No one, including the strongest supporters of RFRA, ever wanted to see blanket discrimination against anyone. No one wanted to make it more difficult for homosexuals to buy groceries or gasoline, find a place to live, or find a bank to store their money. What RFRA supporters wanted to do was provide a narrow and limited set of protections to people who feared they would be forced to violate their consciences if government forced them to participate in a homosexual wedding.
Furthermore, the law did not explicitly allow discrimination of any kind. What the law actually did was direct the courts to apply strict scrutiny in a conflict over religious freedom. The law only allowed a law that applied generally to restrict religious freedom if there was a compelling state interest and there was no other way to meet those goals. The law could have easily been interpreted by the courts that businesses may not refuse service to homosexuals seeking to purchase groceries or gasoline but would allow a baker to refuse to bake a cake for a homosexual wedding.
Claiming that RFRA was intended to allow blanket discrimination is not just an exaggeration - it is a lie. Shame on the Herald-Times for lying to its readers in pursuit of a political agenda.