Indiana's "religious freedom" law, i.e. a bill designed to legalize discrimination against gays and lesbians under the shield of "religious freedom" has been a source of national controversy. Indiana was ultimately forced by the corporate money wing of the Republican Party to modify its "religious freedom" law with the following amendment:
Specifically, the new language says the RFRA does not authorize a provider — including businesses or individuals — to refuse to offer or provide services, facilities, goods, employment, housing or public accommodation to any member of the public based on sexual orientation or gender identity, in addition to race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex or military service.[While it is problematic, and has always seemed to be an affront to the supposed secular values of America as a liberal democracy, tax exempt religious organizations are yet somehow still allowed to violate civil rights laws. This is an ugly pimple that should be popped; stare decisis has to this point protected it from being lanced. It is a blemish that the American body politic will be forced to live with for the foreseeable future.]
The proposed language exempts churches or other nonprofit religious organizations — including affiliated schools — from the definition of "provider."
The rejection of Indiana's religious hate law is not a total defeat for the culture warriors in the Republican Party.
The Christian Right are not ashamed of their actions: secular resistance emboldens them. Why? like most fanatics, they are animated by a belief in a mythic narrative of struggle against overwhelming odds that gives further credence to the cause.
No, the American Taliban and ISIS, will pivot and pursue other options in order to further bend and ultimately break the wall separating church and state in the United States.
At the center of the Christian Right's moves in Indiana and elsewhere to use religion as a means of legitimizing hatred and discrimination is an assumption that "they" are "normal" and those "other people" are somehow not. For the Christian Right, to be "American" is to be "white", "Christian", "male", and "straight".
If America is a shining city on the hill, then those who are not included in those two categories are to be distanced from its radiance and ultimately forced out of the community.
Here, whiteness, white supremacy, and white privilege can take many forms. Racism is a flexible template on to which other types of discrimination--such as that against gays and lesbians or some type of Other--can be neatly mapped.
As I discussed on Ring of Fire TV following the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision, the Christian Right is unable to imagine themselves being subjected to the type of discrimination that they so desperately desire to inflict on some Other. Ingroup identity when coupled with conservatism, racism, and homophobia, deems that empathy for the outgroup is all but non-existent. This is a logic that on one extreme leads to mild forms of ethnocentrism and on the other end to violence and eliminationist rhetoric.
Street theater, with its direct encounters between individuals who hold opposing ideas, is the beating heart of a healthy democracy. Th clash between different groups and their political ideals in the public sphere also provides many teachable moments.
The Black Hebrew Israelites and their various offshoots have a sincerely held religious belief that white people are evil. Thus, the Black Hebrew Israelites believe in racial separatism and that white people will be subjected to a unique punishment by God for their supposed collective crimes.
Would the Christian Right appeal to the 1968 Supreme Court Piggie Park decision that deems national civil rights laws to be superior to the religious freedom to discriminate based on race?
Would the Christian Right scramble as they combined the Right-wing media's fictions of a "War on Christians" with anti-black animus and racism to make themselves into some type of "double victim" in the Age of Obama?
Either outcome would be both entertaining and instructive: religious hypocrisy and white privilege never fail to provide a good show, even if the outcomes are often disturbing and destructive.