Tag: Religious Freedom Restoration Act

The Fight for Equality–from the Right


Ken Williams already has two strikes against him. He is a Christian pastor. He was gay at one time and found his way back to a heterosexual life and is now married with four kids. And he has a third strike against him as he fights legislation in California that could prevent counseling gays who want to explore the possibility of living as heterosexuals.

Slate’s Rising Intolerance on Gay Rights


In my recent Defining Ideas column, “Hard Questions on Same-Sex Marriage,” I sought to explore some of the intellectual cross-currents and difficulties in the Supreme Court’s opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges. There were two basic points in the article.  First, I sought to explain the difficulties in finding a constitutional right to gay marriage, even though most of the standard arguments against same-sex-marriage tend to fall flat as a matter of social and political theory. The article was in no sense an effort to rally religious conservatives to stop the powerful political juggernaut that has resulted in a surge in public approval for same-sex-marriage.

The second point was my deep uneasiness that the same-sex-marriage movement is moving sharply from its defense of gay unions towards a massive intolerance of those individuals who, for religious reasons, oppose the practice and wish to conduct their own personal lives and business activities in accordance with their own beliefs — beliefs that I hasten to add are not my own. The recent hysterical screed against my column by Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, laden as it is with abusive epithets, shows just how rapidly that form of intolerance is taking over the gay rights movement more generally.

Please Stop Celebrating the Naked Public Square


RFRA_Indianapolis_Protests_-_2015_-_Justin_Eagan_02-615x458Fifteen years ago, as a college undergraduate, I had the opportunity to visit Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. It’s an interesting place, and some parts are quite moving. Nearly everyone comes away haunted by the Children’s Memorial, commemorating the 1.5 million Jewish children killed in the Holocaust. For me though, another very memorable bit was the main museum, which told the story of the Holocaust from an angle I hadn’t seen before.

Of course, I had studied the Holocaust in school and seen the classic movies. I had heard the pious cliche (laughable when you think about it) that “this is disturbing but we study it anyway so that this can never happen again.” But when American schoolteachers cover the Holocaust, the impression they give is that the extermination of Jews just resulted from a random outpouring of wild-eyed hatred, which could as easily have fallen on short people or green-eyed people or anybody else who happened to be a little different. Yad Vashem’s narrative was much more attentive to the fact that it was not short people or green-eyed people who were hated and killed; it was Jews. And that really wasn’t a point of random happenstance.

In the end, that museum basically amounts to a kind of apologia for the State of Israel. (This also explains another slightly eerie thing about Yad Vashem, which is that it is usually packed with armed and uniform-clad IDF soldiers. I gathered a visit to the museum was a normal part of their training.) It certainly gave my 20-year-old self a lot to consider. That was the first time I understood the really interesting (and tragic) thing about the Holy Land, which is that everybody there has a victim complex and, as inconvenient as that is politically, everybody there has some justification for having a victim complex. Their “victim narratives” ring true, at least to a considerable extent.

The Libertarian Podcast: Indiana, Discrimination, and Religious Liberty


This week on The Libertarian podcast, Professor Epstein takes on the controversy over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Is it a vital protection for religious liberty? Is it an overbroad statute that needlessly opens the door to discrimination? Exactly how far should government be able to go in forcing individuals to interact with others against their will? And what are the limits to religious exemptions to broadly applicable laws? Those are just a few of the topics that we cover in this week’s episode. Listen in below or subscribe to The Libertarian via iTunes or your favorite podcast app.