At the end of the day I believe that every citizen should be able to live and work
according to their convictions without fear the government will come in and force
them to do something contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs; but the
nuance between a valid conscientious objection and an arbitrary refusal of service
lies in the difference between material cooperation with an act and the superficial
involvement with it such as refusing to dispense abortifacients for example which
might actually prevent an abortion from happening. However, refusing to bake a
wedding cake on the other hand, is just an unnecessary irritation that makes
Christians and Christianity appear bigoted, intolerant, and petty.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence, with his super majority of republicans behind him, signed the Indiana Religious Freedom Act into law on March 26th, saying it ensures that religious liberty is “fully protected under Indiana law.” The legislation declares that state and local governments may not “substantially burden” a person’s right to the exercise of religion unless it is demonstrated that doing so is “essential to further a compelling governmental interest” and uses “the least restrictive” means to further that interest. What does this mean in layman terms? It means that if a business, for example, wants to refuse service to you based on their personal religious beliefs, they can do so with impunity and the government will not do anything about it unless it’s in its best interest to do so. This law is bad for the state of Indiana, bad for Hoosiers, and bad for business, plain and simple.
One of the challenges of living in a liberal society is that you have to be willing to get along with others who may not live according to your moral values or lifestyle. It is an inevitability of an enlightened people that there will be instances where personal or visceral disagreements that are based on ideological, religious, philosophical or academic beliefs will happen. However, a part of the inherent social contract that we all accept and adhere to as citizens of this country is that we agree not to force others to act in accord with our own personal beliefs.
I think it is vitally important to recognize that an individual's right to act according to their conscience should be protected under the law. However, the choice of an individual to have an abortion should not also give them the right to force someone else to participate in a process that another individual believes is tantamount to homicide. This is just one example of what would be a serious violation of an individual’s freedom of religion.
When “religious freedom” translates only to mean “Christian” rights, it no longer is about religious freedom as intended by the Constitution, but rather it becomes a blatant opportunity for a government-sanctioned public display of discrimination by some.
If you are a local business who chooses to discriminate in secret then expose yourself and let the market dictate whether or not you remain viable. Put a notice on your door or window in plain sight so all of us can see whom you will or will not serve and see how it works for you. I have been contacted recently by a few mainstream businesses asking how they can demonstrate that they will not discriminate against gays. They want to form a march called “Wewillserveno hate” and they want our support and yet none have ever advertised their businesses with any LGBT publications nor have they ever supported any pride event. To those, I challenge you to demonstrate your solidarity against SB101 by taking action and showing your support in real terms.
The Word, under my leadership will continue to stand up and shine light on those that seek to hide behind closed doors and lurk in the shadows of ignorance and intolerance. We will seek out and expose those who want to turn back the clock on social advances that benefit our society as a whole and we will continue to encourage the fair-minded and good people of Indiana to step out of the background and get off the sidelines and be a part of the process by voting. We all must work hard to ensure that we continue reminding our elected officials that they have been elected to serve and protect ALL of the people of our state.