From the beginning of recorded history, religious zealots have performed all kinds of atrocities — from genocide to pure bigotry — in the name of God. And the shocking fact is, they’re still at it. Today, Islamic extremists in the Middle East behead captives in the name of Mohammed. Today, Christian extremists in the United States deny service to gay and lesbian Americans in the name of Jesus, just like they once used the Bible to justify slavery and segregation.

 Sadly, Christian extremism is nowhere more alive today than in the state of Indiana, where their laughing-stock of a governor, Mike Pence, signed the misleadingly named ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act,’ which, in its original form allowed business owners to refuse service to LGBT Americans, provided they claim homosexuality is against their religion.

 According to my sources, many of these bills were authored by state legislative members associated with the Koch Brothers-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which also influenced passage of state-sponsored, Stand Your Ground, laws and measures in many states to restrict voting rights.

 And there’s no doubt what’s behind these ‘RFRA’ bills. Once the Supreme Court allowed Hobby Lobby to deny contraceptive coverage for its female employees based on its owners’ religious objections, opponents of same-sex marriage turned to state legislatures demanding, under the spurious claim that their ‘religious freedom’ was also being violated by having to do business with same-sex couples, the legal right to discriminate. At best, Pence is only half-way correct when he says tolerance is a two-way street. Yes, it’s a two-street — but only as long as both parties are treated equally.

 What is most odious about sponsors of this flood of phony ‘religious freedom’ laws are attempts to justify their homophobia as a faith-based tenet of Christianity. They’re not true Christians. They don’t know their Bible, either. We don’t know what Jesus thought about homosexuality, since he says not one word about it in the entire New Testament. But we do know he taught us to love our neighbor, and not hate him or her.

 For any reason.

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