Doug McKenna: Racism and the power grab for religious freedom – Boulder Daily Camera

Kudos to Doug Thorburn (May 17) for his rebuttal to Charlie Danaher’s essay (May 4) about “mob rule” with respect to the recent brouhaha over Donald Sterling, the basketball team (er, plantation?) owner who was secretly recorded lecturing his concubine with racist sentiments about the people whose lives he controls.

Danaher’s previous column argued that businesses should have a First Amendment right to discriminate against homosexuals on religious grounds.

So, combining the two subjects, it’s obvious what Donald Sterling should do: join a whites-only “Christian nation” church that believes whites are the Children of God — all based on the Bible, of course, insert a cherry-picked quote-about-slavery here. He could demonstrate his devoutness by picketing funerals with signs saying “God Hates Blacks,” or something no doubt more provocative.

Then, after Sterling acts on his religious beliefs by actually using his powerful housing business to discriminate with, and the government attempts to fine it $2.7 million for violating the law (which it once did), Sterling could then play the persecution card and counter-sue under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

Like the Hobby Lobby corporation has just argued at the Supreme Court, Sterling could claim that the law is substantially burdening his First Amendment rights, and that the fines levied are not the least restrictive means of achieving the government’s compelling interest in reducing discrimination.

The “least restrictive means” legal test, first introduced by the RFRA and not “restored” from earlier times, is essentially impossible for the government to defend because it involves proving a negative. After Sterling wins, the government has to pay all his legal bills.

The RFRA is essentially a power-grab, get-out-of-jail-free card for religious racists, homophobes, pedophilia enablers or those self-deluded into believing that contraceptives are immoral. For obvious reasons, the statute is unconstitutional and stinks to high heaven.

Doug McKenna