Fox News spent a week talking about how Indiana’s so-called “religious freedom” law wasn’t about discrimination. It was all about freedom for people to practice their religious beliefs as they saw fit, even if that meant…discriminating. Now that Indiana has passed a fix for the law that prohibits businesses from doing just that, Fox News has changed its tune.
Media Matters for America reports that on today’s edition of “Fox & Friends,” Elizabeth Hasselbeck, Tucker Carlson, and Brian Kilmeade devoted not one, but two segments to calling out the moral cowardice of Indiana’s government for “fixing” their pro-bigotry law, and saying that the law was, in effect, gutted. Carlson said:
I can’t make make any sense of this at all, it seems like the law has been completely gutted. It says specifically you can’t use this law in court as a defense against denying service on the basis of your religious faith. So like, what’s the point of the law in the first place? I’m completely confused.
So, let’s get this straight. Tucker Carlson is saying he doesn’t understand what the point of even having this law is if a business can’t discriminate as they see fit. But the law itself is not about discrimination. How does that work? Sorry, but that was the whole purpose of the law: To allow people to discriminate on the basis of their faith, and prohibit people who’ve been discriminated against from doing anything about it in court.
Elizabeth Hasselbeck then explained how these laws used to help people practice their religions, and now they don’t. Her implication (though she doesn’t say it outright) is that people who are too easily offended have forced everyone to destroy religious freedom in the name of political correctness.
As far as how these laws used to help, she did get that right (don’t faint). The Huffington Post has a good explanation of how religious freedom laws, or, at least the ones in other states, and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), changed the way courts deal with what are known as “competing rights claims.” Competing rights claims happen when one group’s rights are infringing on another group’s rights. Whose rights take precedence? Whose interests should be served?
Instead of trying to find a balance between competing rights, RFRAs mainly require that the government have a compelling interest in banning, or interfering with, certain religious practices; that in so doing, they must find the least restrictive manner of interfering; and that the law be narrowly tailored to that specific interest. Until recently, RFRAs were used as a shield.
HuffPo says that, starting in the early 2000s, religious conservatives began using RFRAs to discriminate, not to protect. Up until that point, claims were mostly victimless in that allowing someone to practice their religion a certain way (say, a soldier who wishes to wear a yarmulke) didn’t hurt anybody else. When religious conservatives started crying about their religious freedom being threatened by the “gay agenda,” as they call it, they started saying that these laws allowed them to hurt anybody whose “lifestyle” they disagreed with on religious grounds.
Enter Indiana’s law, which didn’t originally have any protections for different groups of people. It was all about discrimination. It was all about allowing places like Memories Pizza and 111 Cakery to deny service to a certain group of people, because their religion is more important than someone’s civil rights. Not about discrimination? That was the whole point! The religious right no longer sees RFRAs as a defense, but rather, as an offensive weapon that allows them to do what they want without fear of a lawsuit.
All “Fox & Friends” has done by whining loudly that Indiana’s added protections have rendered the RFRA useless is contradict their own point that it was all about religious freedom, and not discrimination. Watch them destroy their own talking points below:
H/T: Media Matters | Featured image via screen capture from Media Matters for America