Indiana News

Students, faith leaders oppose Religious Freedom bill

UPDATE: Gov. Pence has signed the Religious Freedom Bill into law. Click here for more details.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Governor Mike Pence is expected to sign the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law during a private ceremony Thursday. But that doesn’t mean the controversy is letting up.

Members of several religious organizations are speaking out against the bill. The main concern is whether this legislation will allow discrimination in the Hoosier state.

Sara Hindi is a junior at IUPUI and a member of the Muslim Student Association. She vehemently opposes the Religious Freedom Restoration Act expected to become Indiana Law.

“I don’t think there’s a reason to have this because no one should be judged or unwelcome to certain places or certain businesses based on their religious decisions or their gender,” she said.

She is afraid Senate Bill 101 will open the door for discrimination. She was surprised to hear that Governor Pence plans to sign it into law.

“You think lawmakers are there to listen to the people and to do what’s good for everyone and benefit the majority of people and that’s not the case,” she said.

Hindi is not alone in her opposition to this legislation.

Religious leaders from various faiths have spoken against it, even though it’s intended to protect those who make decisions based on their religious beliefs.

“That sends a wrong message for a multi-pluristic, multi-religious society like America,” Edgar Hopida, Communications Director, Islamic Society of North America said.

Rev. Bruce Gray of The Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis thinks the bill will spread hate.

“It’s more freedom to discriminate bill rather than a freedom of religion bill,” said Rev. Gray,” It uses religion in a way that actually spreads hate rather than love.”

A member of the Jewish community also spoke out against the bill.

“It’s ambiguity, gray area that is created in this legislation will ultimately hurt the Jewish community more than it will help it,” David Sklar of the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council said.

Law Professor Robert Katz agrees with the religious leaders. He believes the law is radical and unnecessary given protections already in place within the constitution.

“This seems like a really aggressive way of dealing with a problem that just ordinary decent folks would work out on their own,” he said.

Mayor Greg Ballard released a statement against the bill Wednesday.

He said the city “strives to be a welcoming place that attracts businesses, conventions, visitors and residents.” He feels that the act sends the wrong signal.