American Family Association Supports Indiana’s Religious Freedom Law
TUPELO, Miss.—Even as the state faces opposition and possible boycotts from businesses, American Family Association (AFA, www.afa.net) is standing with Indiana for taking brave and much-needed strides for religious freedom in America.
Over the weekend, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence defended a new state law that will protect religious liberties by giving Indiana residents the freedom to make decisions that will not “substantially burden” a person’s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. According to Fox News, “the definition of ‘person’ includes religious institutions, businesses and associations, which is being interpreted as allowing a cake maker, for example, to legally refuse an order for a wedding cake for a gay couple.”
Pence said yesterday that the new law “is not about discrimination” and that, despite backlash, lawmakers do not intend to change the legislation, Fox reports. “This is about empowering people to confront government overreach,” Pence added.
“Backlash to this bill proves exactly why protections like these are necessary,” said AFA president Tim Wildmon. “In general, society will not give the faithful the means or the permission to defend their beliefs and convictions. Therefore, we applaud Indiana for standing up for religious freedom by signing this important and historic bill into law.”
Pence signed Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law on Thursday morning. The law details that state or local governments are prohibited from substantially burdening a person’s ability to exercise his or her religion—“unless the government can show that it has a compelling interest and that the action is the least restrictive means of achieving it,” reports the Indianapolis Star.
The bill, which passed 63-31 in the Indiana legislature, goes into effect July 1 and does not specifically mention sexual orientation. The passage of the law makes Indiana the 20th state in the nation to adopt such legislation, modeled on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, signed by President Bill Clinton.
“All Americans are guaranteed the freedom to live and work according to the dictates of their conscience—and this has been a tenet of our country since its founding,” Wildmon said. “Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act is about creating a balancing test to protect competing interests and to allow people of faith the ability to obey their conscience. We challenge opponents of religious freedom to name one person discriminated against because of a restoration law like this. Yet, we can name numerous professionals who did experience deep discrimination and financial ruin because of their faith convictions and their courage to stand on them.”
AFA has often shared with its one million-plus friends and supporters about case after case of Americans who were forced into making business decisions that were not in line with their faith and religious convictions, such as bakers, florists and photographers who were pressured into performing services for same-sex weddings, even though their convictions dictated otherwise.
“The religious freedom law in Indiana is not about products or services,” Wildmon said. “It is about the government forcing individuals to use their artistic talents and creative expressions in a manner that violates their conscience.”