WASHINGTON – Last week Gov. Mike Pence and the Indiana State Legislature rushed to enact sweeping “religious freedom” legislation over the strong objections of civil rights and religious organizations that believed it would give legal justification to discrimination. Today Gov. Pence walked back his defense of this legislation, asking for a fix that would prevent this religious freedom legislation from allowing discrimination by business owners in the state. Following these developments, Rabbi Jack Moline, executive director of Interfaith Alliance released the following statement:
“Governor Mike Pence and the Indiana Legislature have managed to enact a so-called religious freedom bill with provisions that are broader and more dangerous than anything we have seen before. Whether ‘the fix’ that Governor Pence has promised will ultimately prove sufficient to safeguard the rights of all Hoosiers has yet to be seen, but certain damage is done. This legislation has already been marked as a dark chapter in the long history of religious freedom and civil rights in America. The concept of a ‘religious freedom restoration act’ was at one time well intentioned as protection against discrimination. Unfortunately, it has now become a Trojan Horse to codify the right to discriminate into law.
“When the Religious Right and their political allies use the vocabulary of religious freedom as a smokescreen for prejudice and intolerance, they jeopardize not only the rights of the LGBT community, but the rights of all those protected by the promise of the First Amendment. The LGBT community and all well-meaning Hoosiers of faith have seen their rights abused in the service of a political agenda this past week. Our constitutional guarantees are too important, too precious, to be sacrificed in the contest for short-term political gain. We hope that Governor Pence finally has learned that the only way truly to protect the constitution is to make it work for everyone. Politicians across our country should recognize Indiana’s mistake and not pass discriminatory legislation like this in the first place.”
Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit www.interfaithalliance.org.