The Moral Arc has stopped bending towards justice today, as the governor of Indiana signed a “Religious Freedom Restoration” bill in which the “freedom” is the freedom to discriminate against people based on your religious beliefs. And the “people” against whom you can now discriminate in Indiana were clearly meant to be gays, bisexuals, and transsexuals. Not surprisingly, the bill was signed in secret. As PuffHo reports:
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act would allow any individual or corporation to cite its religious beliefs as a defense when sued by a private party. But many opponents of the bill, which included business leaders, argued that it could open the door to widespread discrimination. Business owners who don’t want to serve same-sex couples, for example, could now have legal protections to discriminate.
“Today I signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, because I support the freedom of religion for every Hoosier of every faith,” Pence said in a statement Thursday. “The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action.”
The bill received national attention, but Pence signed it with little fanfare in a ceremony closed to the public and the press. The Indianapolis Star reported that members of the media “were asked to leave even the waiting area of the governor’s office.”
As usual, the supporters of the bill (Republicans, of course) lied about their intents:
Conservative supporters, however, have denied that the bill is about discrimination and instead have argued that religious liberties are under attack.
“This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way in Indiana, I would have vetoed it,” Pence said in his statement Thursday. “For more than 20 years, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act has never undermined our nation’s anti-discrimination laws, and it will not in Indiana.”
It’s not about discrimination? How is that, when it allows you to discriminate against nearly anyone if you can claim that violates your religion? And can people of one faith discriminate against those of another on religious grounds? Can an Orthodox Jewish male legally refuse to sit next to a woman because it violates his religion? The implications—and possibilities for lawsuits—are endless.
Some businesses are boycotting Indiana, and I have a strong inclination myself to refuse invitations from any public university in that state. Not that it will make a difference, for Indiana (as we learned from the Ball State issue) is basically a conservative Southern state. But we can express our displeasure.