Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Recently, people have all been speaking how Indiana is the forbidden state. Indiana is the area of which everyone should avoid — even Hoosiers. Celebrities have even taken to boycotting Indiana because of a new bill signed by Governor Mike Pence.

The bill is known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The bill had no intentions of causing any sort of discrimination, especially toward the LGBTQ community. In the Frequently Asked Questions over the RFRA, it states that it had no intention of discrimination, but merely to protect various companies such as Hobby Lobby from having to provide their employees with birth-control — something which Hobby Lobby doesn’t agree with and took all the way to the supreme court last year when the Health Care Act of 2013 was enacted.

The Frequently Asked Questions also uses the example of a Muslim prisoner being forced to shave off his beard to comply with prison regulation, regardless that it was against his religion. The bill was meant for things like this: to protect the people from the government.

What’s even more interesting is that Indiana isn’t the only state to have an RFRA. There are 20 total states that have enacted this bill. Why is no one boycotting them? In this article by Garrett Epps, he outlines it pretty well as to why no one cares about the other states with the RFRA. Indiana’s RFRA is different from other states in one major way. Both Epps and I are drawn to a major part of the bill:

“A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.”

The portion that I underlined is original to the RFRA of Indiana. No other state has that wording. According to Governor Mike Pence and the Frequently Asked Questions, the bill was designed for the protection of the people from the government. However, the underline portion states, in summary, it doesn’t matter if the government is involved or not.

I believe that this section is what has everyone all in a tizzy. Because of this paragraph, it allows anything that is a burden to a religion (of a business) to have a right to refuse service under this bill. This is where the LGBTQ community is worried. The Leviticus chapter of the Bible is very famous and is used quite frequently when disputing homosexual marriage, which is a very highly debated topic.

Many people laugh at Pence’s inability to answer the question of did he pass this bill for the sole purpose to  discriminate this generation’s exclusive views on what love really is. Feel free to fast forward the clip to 3:50 to the main meat of the video.

Three other states have followed Indiana’s lead: Arkansas, North Carolina and Georgia have enacted their own versions of the RFRA. North Carolina’s governor has stated that he finds the bill stupid and it looks like he will be sure to veto it as soon as it comes onto his desk.

It’s been six days since the bill was ratified and Indiana business owner’s are already discriminating. In the town of Walkerton, Memories Pizza owner’s were interviewed by ABC57. They stated on this interview, “If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no. We are a Christian establishment.”

That certainly got people fired up. People from Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Missouri and many more states all hopped on yelp and started creating reviews for Memories Pizza. Pages upon pages upon pages have been created in a matter of hours. These are just a few reviews that MIC had gone through and found.

MP1 MP2 MP3

Many reviews were like this. Members and supporters of the LGBTQ community as well as other people who are against the discrimination that Memories Pizza had invoked were constantly giving one star reviews and degrading comments. A few people posted comments giving the establishment five stars and a stern comment to other degrading members — many of which went over-looked by haters.

On a vastly different note, this bill has now allowed the first Church of Cannabis. Though Marijuana is illegal in the state of Indiana, Indiana attorney and political commentator Abdul-Hakim Shabazz states that, “I would argue that under RFRA, as long as you can show that reefer is part of your religious practices, you got a pretty good shot of getting off scot-free.”

Shabazz stated, “I want a front row seat at the trial [on Marijuana] that we all know is going to happen when all this goes down.” I couldn’t agree more.

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