Religious freedom threatened
And on the third day, religious conservatives and gay activists sought to build public support for their position on Indiana’s new religious freedom bill.
The two sides began their war of words even before Indiana’s governor signed the bill into law on Thursday. They continued Sunday. On ABC’s news show “This Week,” with George Stephanopoulos, Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, said the law defends religious people from government coercion and ensures that religious liberty is tolerated:
I mean, you know, there’s a lot of talk about tolerance in this country today having to do with people on the left. And a — but here Indiana steps forward to protect the constitutional rights and privileges of freedom of religion for people of faith and families of faith in our state and this avalanche of intolerance that’s been poured on our state is just outrageous.
You’ve been to Indiana a bunch of times. You know it. There are no kinder, more generous, more welcoming, more hospitable people in America than in the 92 counties of Indiana.
And yet because we simply stepped forward for the purpose of recognizing the religious liberty rights of all the people of Indiana, of every faith, we at
— we have suffered under this avalanche for the last several days of condemnation and it’s completely baseless.
In The Washington Post, Apple CEO Tim Cook, who came out as homosexual last year, wrote that Indiana’s law discriminated against gays and lesbians:
A wave of legislation, introduced in more than two dozen states, would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors. Some, such as the bill enacted in Indiana last week that drew a national outcry and one passed in Arkansas, say individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law.
Others are more transparent in their effort to discriminate. Legislation being considered in Texas would strip the salaries and pensions of clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — even if the Supreme Court strikes down Texas’ marriage ban later this year. In total, there are nearly 100 bills designed to enshrine discrimination in state law.
These bills rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality.
The law permits religious businesses and inviduals to refuse service to someone for religious reasons. Nineteen other states and the federal government have similar religious-freedom laws, according to The Washington Post. The laws are modeled on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.
Gay activists and some corporations have called for boycotting Indiana. Conservatives have asked White House press secretary Josh Earnest to confirm that President Obama as an Illinois legislator voted for a religious freedom bill.