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None of the dire outcomes predicted by those campaigning against the Indiana RFRA have materialized in jurisdictions that already have versions of the law. Aside from the specific matter of participation in a gay wedding, there has not been a single case in which someone has claimed a religious right to refuse to serve or sell to gays or lesbians. Employment? There exists only one case from 1985—and in that case the court denied the claim to a religious exemption from anti-discrimination laws. Facts belie the outcry and expose it for the propaganda effort that it is.

This campaign of misinformation comes at a cost. For some people, RFRA protection is a matter of life and death.

Take Mary Stinemetz, a Jehovah's Witness in Kansas who needed a liver transplant but would not accept a blood transfusion for religious reasons. To get such an operation, she would have to go a hospital in Nebraska. Kansas Medicaid, which had a policy of only covering in-state procedures, refused to cover the transplant (even though the Omaha procedure would have cost less than the in-state one with a blood transfusion).

Stinemetz litigated, claiming religious exemption from the policy, but Kansas had no RFRA. State attorneys argued she had no right to the exemption. After going through the appeal process, the Kansas Supreme Court determined that the state constitution implied RFRA-like protections and granted her the exemption. But it was too late. Her health had deteriorated to the point where a transplant was futile.

She died in October 2012.

We don't hear about Mary Stinemetz. That's because the propaganda about the Indiana law and other RFRA laws blankets reality and hides the true human costs of inadequate protection of religious freedom. This epitomizes the elitism of the gay rights movement, which is in many respects a lobby for the One Percent. Two rich lawyers from New Jersey simply have to be able to compel a florist in Denver to make arrangements for their wedding.

If getting rid of Indiana’s law comes at the cost of the lives of people like Mary Stinemetz, well, that's too bad.

R. R. Reno is editor of First Things.

More on: RFRA, Indiana

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