Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Indiana's Religious Freedom Law And GOP Politics

Indiana passed a religious freedom law that has nothing to do with religious freedom.  Everyone in Indiana, and elsewhere, is free to practice whichever religion they prefer.  The law enables businesses to refuse services to individuals whose sexual practices violate their religious beliefs by protecting them from lawsuits.  Mike Spence, the Governor of Indiana, defended the law on national TV by claiming that it "empowers people".  Perhaps the real intent of the law is to empower the religious far right to vote for Republicans.  Nineteen other states have so called religious freedom laws.  Republican politicians are not concerned about religious freedom.  These laws are intended to strengthen their hold over "values voters" who have become the base of their Party.  They also provide another example of how the Republican Party has bastardized the concept of freedom.  This law provides legal freedom to one group so that it can take away the freedom of others to purchase products and services.  Jeb Bush, who has become the leading candidate for the GOP nomination in 2016, certainly understands the politics of the GOP base.  He has defended the Indiana law.  David Brooks also understands the values wedge that has been used by his party in election campaigns.  He attempts to make the religious freedom law credible by separating it from GOP politics.  He suggests that we should be tolerant of "minorities" who have strong values.  He means that we should be tolerant of the GOP's exploitation of the values held by a substantial portion of its base.  His job is to make GOP policies more tolerable to the better educated audience who reads his op-eds.

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