Indiana Pastors Rebuke Mike Pence

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)

USA Today reports:

The Rev. Ron Johnson Jr., standing with 19 other clergy who are part of his Indiana Pastors Alliance, told a cheering crowd of more than 150 people that Pence and other Republican leaders had failed to “stand for biblical truth.” . . . .

“You failed us,” Johnson said. “And in doing so, you betrayed the trust of millions of Hoosiers who elected you to protect the liberties we hold so dear.

The Party of CEOs certainly trumped the pastors in Indiana, that much is clear.

But in my view the betrayal of the conservative GOP establishment in this case goes even deeper. They knew, they always knew, that state RFRAs would not likely protect future Barronelle StutzmansMelissa Kleins, or Kelvin Cochrans in Indiana.  They hoped to use a state RFRA to help deflect the energetic concerns of “the base” in a way that would not bring down the wrath of the gay rights movement, because state RFRAs exist in so many blue states and have never trumped sexual orientation discrimination concerns. Indeed New Mexico, which fined Elaine Huguenin for refusing to photograph a gay civil union ceremony, had a state RFRA.

State RFRAs are good laws, and I support them.  But in this context they constitute “fake religious liberty” guarantees.  They are not an answer to the urgent new problem that traditional believers face: threats to their livelihoods from the Party of CEOs, from government, and from the gay rights establishment, which believes the crime of refusing to bake a gay wedding cake must be punished by bankruptcy for a family. They have transformed Democrats into law-and-order conservatives on the one question of gay equality.

The gay rights establishment decided, in Indiana as in Arizona, that they did not care what RFRAs would actually do.  They would stomp them out as anti-gay anyway.

So the conservative establishment, which is unwilling to fight the Party of CEOs or the LGBT establishment, is left naked and ashamed.  The future of Gov. Mike Pence is up to the people of Indiana.  I have no special critique to make of Mike Pence.

But Gov. Scott Walker is pretending that there is no problem because religious liberty is in our Constitution; and Sen. Rand Paul, our great would-be champion of liberty, is studiously ignoring the question, trying to turn the religious liberty into a question about killing Christian abroad—which no progressive or CEO will criticize you for criticizing.

These are the men who would be your president. What is their excuse?

Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at American Principles in Action.