Indiana now faces wrath of faith groups
Indiana’s idiotic Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) – universally regarded as an overt attack on the gay community – is now being perceived as a real danger to folk belonging to faiths other than Christianity.
According to this report, the Islamic Society of North America, for example, issued a statement expressing concern that the law could open the door to discrimination against Muslims. The statement said:
If a corporation refused to hire a person because they were a Muslim and their religious beliefs did not permit them to hire Muslim, then the prospective employee could not succeed in a lawsuit alleging discrimination against the corporation, because the law is a defence to liability. Similarly, the state government could not levy fines or other punishments against a corporation for discrimination.
ISNA President Azhar Azeez also urged Governor Mike Pence and the Indiana legislature:
To either repeal this law or add sufficient anti-discrimination protections to insure no one’s rights are undermined in the name of religious freedom.
The Sikh Coalition’s Rajdeep Singh, while arguing that fundamental protections for religious freedom should remain intact, declared:
It is wrong to discriminate against people based on what they believe, but we also cannot allow RFRA to be used to discriminate against people because of who they love.
Enter the Jews. In a statement to The Huffington Post, Rachel Laser, deputy director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said that the matter at stake is bigger than Indiana and bigger than just one marginalised community. Laser said the RFRA offers an opportunity for minority groups and all people of conscience to stand together to protect “fundamental” freedoms.
Our nation’s dedication to religious freedom has allowed religious minorities, including Jews, to flourish across America. This history inspires us to speak out – not only to ensure that individuals and religious communities can freely practice and observe their faith – but also to fight discrimination against other minorities.
We can protect fundamental religious freedoms while ensuring that the LGBT community, as well as other communities in need of protections, are treated with dignity and respect in all aspects of public life.
And the Central Conference of American Rabbis argued that the bill had been:
Motivated by animus against LGBT Americans.
CCAR, which appointed its first openly gay president in March, drew upon Jewish history to make a statement of solidarity with all people targeted by “state-sanctioned” discrimination, and said in a statement:
We further call upon Gov Pence to declare that Indiana will not tolerate discrimination based on sexual orientation or perceived orientation, gender identity or expression or perceived gender identity or expression.
Christian groups, too, are unhappy with Pence’s law. The Disciples of Christ, a mainline Protestant denomination that has long made Indiana its headquarters, is seeking a new location for its 2017 General Assembly in protest of the law.
The group said in a letter to followers:
Religious freedom is also one of the cherished tenets of our Disciples tradition. The freedom of one goes too far, however, when that one’s freedom threatens to exclude or inhibits the freedoms of others.
Bishop Catherine Waynick of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis, called the RFRA “an embarrassment to ‘Hoosier Hospitality’” in a pre-Easter letter to the clergy. Holy Week and Easter offer an opportunity for Christians to “become faithful advocates for justice,” Waynick wrote, and to reflect on the “indiscriminate love of God.”
I don’t believe for a minute that it was the intention of the General Assembly to create a license to discriminate, or a right to deny services to gays, lesbians or anyone else in this state. And it certainly wasn’t my intent. But I can appreciate that that’s become the impression – not just here in Indiana, but all across this country. And we need to confront that.