Indiana and RFRA

1197837_freedom            Indiana is ground zero in our nation as people struggle to live under law protecting the rights of all. The legislature of Indiana has modeled the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” or RFRA (pronounced “riff-ra”), of the 1993 federal law signed by President Clinton after a unanimous vote in the House of Representatives and a 97-3 vote in the Senate. For 20 years RFRAs existed in the Federal government and 19 states before Indiana’s legislation.

Discrimination of any kind is wrong whether towards people of faith or those in the LGBT community. How to proceed politically is the Gordian knot in our land. Where is Solomon when you need him? That is why RFRA was implemented.

As a Christian my starting point is with Jesus. He loves me and all people. But that does not mean that Jesus agrees with everything I do which explains why he went to the cross on Good Friday and rose for our justification (Rom 4:25) on Easter Sunday. We practice the same discerning love with our children. Spouses do not always agree but they still love each other. We can love people without promoting their agenda, which is to say we can love people without agreeing with them.

If I were to see a homosexual being discriminated against I would do everything in my power to protect them because that is my duty toward my neighbor and I love them. But that does not mean I agree with, or will promote their lifestyle.

A Christian baker should bake a cake for anyone, homosexual or otherwise, who wants their product. To do otherwise is discriminatory and thankfully RFRA does not allow or encourage discrimination. However, RFRA does give legal protection to those who for reasons of conscience and faith are unable to decorate a cake with wording and insignia advancing same-sex unions.

Protecting the rights of all RFRA has made a distinction between the person and promotion of their actions—a distinction embraced in the church, practiced when raising children, and lived between spouses. If one can improve upon RFRA may that Solomon arise.

Rev. Karl Weber

St. John’s Lutheran, Ottertail

St. Paul’s Lutheran, Richville



About Pastor Karl Weber

Karl has been serving St. Paul’s Richville LC and St. John’s, Ottertail, MN since Labor Day, 2004. He was raised in the Roman Church receiving his BA from Fordham University. Before going to seminary he was a computer programmer in Minneapolis. He served as a short term missionary in Guatemala and Kenya, East Africa. He spent time as a member of the ELCA and studied two years at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN pursing his M. Div. before transferring to the LCMS for theological reasons and continuing his studies at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne. He was ordained in 1991 and earned his D. Min. in May 2002 from the same institution. He has contributed study notes to The Lutheran Study Bible. He enjoys deer hunting, going to the gym, swimming, and reading. He is married to Mary and has five wonderful children.


Indiana and RFRA — 12 Comments

  1. To be frank I really don’t see what the issue is. There are plenty of non-Christian businesses who would be more than willing to capitalize on the profits made that are shunned in good conscience by Christians.

    This is akin to getting mad at a Christian bookstore for not selling pornography.

  2. Pastor Weber’s excellent post did not address the additional problems that will be encountered by Christians as a result of the “fix” to the RFRA. While the “fix” does protect clergy and parochial schools from excluding people of alternate life styles (let’s just say it – LGBT) because of their sinful practices, the Christian businessman is specifically prohibited from denying goods or services because of a prospective customer’s lifestyle. The fact that the goods or services may be procured from another source at a competitive price is not a consideration under this law.

    At the Lutheran Concerns Association annual meeting in January of 2014, one of the speakers (whose name I cannot remember at the moment) presented a paper that traced the path that the LGBT community has used to legitimize their lifestyle to our increasingly secular society. The beginnings were innocuous enough – “We just want to be left alone”. The final stage, where we find ourselves now because people either do not understand or choose to ignore scripture, is the “Punish all who disagree with us” stage.

    The RFRA and its “fix” become effective on July 1, 2015. I fear that on July 2, 2015, someone will find that a Christian business has ‘discriminated” against them and will start the string of lawsuits intended to punish those who choose to live their faith in the public square.

    Larry Beardsley
    Zion, West Fairfield
    Corunna, Indiana

  3. I went back and did my due diligence to find who presented the paper at the 2014 LCA meeting. The presenter was Mark Stern, Esq. A video of the presentation is available at the LCA website under the 2014 Convention tab.

    Video Presentation by Mr. Mark Stern, Esq.
    “From Toleration to Supremacy: A Review of Recent Supreme Court Decisions”

    I tried to copy a link – but no luck.

    (( editor — here are the links ))

    Other videos from that conference can be found here

  4. “However, RFRA does give legal protection to those who for reasons of conscience and faith are unable to decorate a cake with wording and insignia advancing same-sex unions.”

    Really? Anyone know off hand what the wording is on that?


  5. The RFRAs, while well-intended, (at least the Indiana and, as a result, the Arkansas laws) were a mistake. DOMA was a mistake. The hidden agenda here is not the gay agenda, though they are certainly benefiting currently. It’s Caesar as “God”. The government giveth, and the government taketh away. As soon as the government “gives” us a “right” (or even, in the case of the RFRA, passes a law to protect a right that should already be self-evident on the basis of the 1st Amendment), that law can eventually (as in less than a week, this time) be changed to say and do precisely the *opposite* of what it originally said and was intended to do. When the society (as defined in the mass media) no longer looks to “God” for every good, something has to fill the vacuum, and the government is the most logical alternative.
    Welcome to ancient Rome, folks!

  6. And practically speaking, my advice to a member who owns a bakery would be to get out of the “wedding cake” business, altogether, and offer “celebration cakes”, without wording. To anyone. they can add their own wording and same-sex decorations (or proper heterosexual decorations, to be sure) themselves. It’s not like that would be hard to do. You can probably find templates for the wording and decorations online. You can find anything else, for heaven’s sake!

  7. Oh, and Pastor Weber, please do some “surgery” on your statement, “discrimination of any kind is wrong.” It’s simply not true. I know what you intend, and I agree. But “discrimination” is *necessary* in daily living. The Minnesota Vikings discriminate against the 100 lb. weakling when they look for Adrian Peterson’s replacement, for example. A church’s preschool, by law, *must* discriminate against a convicted child molester in its hiring practices.
    *Unjust* discrimination is the issue. But that makes it much messier.

  8. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    I was glad to see the 2014 LCA lecture by Mark Stern posted here in comment #3. BJS bloggers and other visitors to this site have an opportunity to hear attorney Mark Stern live, hear about recent events in this area, and discuss various questions with him, at the upcoming Congress on the Lutheran Confessions—NEXT WEEK. The general topic is on Sex, Gender, Marriage, in the Lutheran Church, as normed by our Confessions, etc. See this webpage for agenda, schedule, and registration info:

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  9. A business has always had the right of refusal against customers who are rude and offensive. But let’s just blow this out of proportion.

  10. Dear BJS Bloggers and Readers,

    With respect to comments #3 and #8 above, LCA President Walter Dissen has informed me that there are still a few DVDs of the 2014 Lutheran Concerns Association (LCA) conference lectures left.

    These would be most useful for showing to Bible Class or church meetings where a DVD player and TV screen is available–which means most congregations. Such groups could just show the Mark Stern lecture, as well as any of the others on the DVD. DVDs are also useful for keeping these lectures available to individuals and congregations for the long term, since web-links eventually expire.

    The 2014 lectures and speakers are listed here, along with their Vimeo links:

    That page also has the Vimeo links for the 2013 and 2012 LCA lectures

    In order to obtain the 2014 LCA conference lectures on DVD, please make a check out to: Lutheran Concerns Association for $5.00 for postage and handling, and send to: Mr. Walter Dissen, 509 Las Gaviotas Blvd, Chesapeake, VA 23322. For inquiries about the DVD, call: (757) 436-2049; or email: [email protected]

    The LCA website ( ) also publishes the Lutheran Clarion shortly after it is mailed to print subscribers, announces the upcoming January conferences in Fort Wayne, and provides opportunity for people like you to support the work of LCA.

    The May 2015 issue of the Lutheran Clarion is nearing completion and should be of great interest to those who are following the LCMS Becker case.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

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