Indiana grabbed national news headlines two weeks ago due to the controversial new Religious Freedom Restoration Act that Gov. Mike Pence signed into law.
The law has been the center of attention as bands like Wilco, former NBA greats like Charles Barkley, politicians and numerous other icons have begun publicly voicing their opinions about the new law.
Hilary Clinton posted a tweet criticizing Indiana’s religious freedom act while Texas Congressman Ted Cruz defended it while speaking in Iowa last Wednesday.
The law itself is being used as a platform to argue between two groups: those who feel their religious dignity and liberty are being threatened by lesbians, gays, bisexuals and the transgendered and those who identify themselves as LGBT along with their supporters.
The truth is this entire controversy is backwards. The idea that the LGBT community is threatening Christian values couldn’t be any more absurd. But this remains a shared belief among many conservative minded people.
Why is it that some people of faith are so willing to condemn homosexuality as a sin but continue to participate and believe in the doctrines of many organized religious institutions that systemically manufacture and protect child molesters and pedophiles?
We may never know, but Gov. Pence reaffirmed this position when he signed the bill into law two weeks ago.
“Many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government actions,” said Pence as he announced the passing of the new law in a televised speech.
The reality is religion isn’t under attack in the United States especially from government actions. When you really begin to break down the argument it becomes easy to see the contradictions those who stand by this position hold.
It is those of faith and organized religion who go door to door soliciting homeowners to convert them to their belief system or donate to their tax exempt cause, not people who identify themselves as LGBT.
Similarly, it is also people of faith who have publicly demonized and criticized those who identify themselves as LGBT, not the other way around.
Conservative politicians and religious icons such as former Republican congresswoman Michele Bachmann or Christian evangelist Franklin Graham have gone out of their way to demonize anyone who identify themselves as gay or lesbian. Bachmann even went so far as to say gays are working on “abolishing consent laws” which will promote “adults to freely prey on little children sexually” last year on the radio talk show Faith and Liberty.
These types of hateful and small minded perspectives clearly represent a shared fear some people of religion have, but they don’t justify them.
These fears shouldn’t act as the framework to discriminate. Luckily they won’t because, after continuous pressure, Gov. Pence has amended the bill to include protections for individuals based on their sexual orientation.
Although provisions have been made to the law, controversy still exists in Indiana and around the issue of gay rights and religion.
Many conservatives still feel their religious ideologies are threatened while other members of society feel the law still doesn’t include enough protections.
The law is not what is important if you ask me but the growing consciousness among millions of Americans who feel strongly about their religion or their sexual orientation is.
Indiana’s religious freedom law acted as a way for both groups to voice their opinion. Democracy works best when all sides of an argument are able to openly express their beliefs and this is exactly what happened in Indiana.
Some people will discriminate whether the law is in place or not, but what is important is that the collective actions by both sides influenced change, and this is what we strive for in a democracy. Whether the law is flawed or flawless, the most important thing is that Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act has inspired people to stand up for what they believe in, voicing their opinions, and participating in our democratic system.