College Presidents Condemn Indiana's New 'Religious Freedom' Law

Three college presidents in Indiana came out over the weekend in opposition to the controversial “religious freedom” law, each saying that it is already damaging the state.

Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed into law on March 26 by Gov. Mike Pence (R), would allow an individual or corporation to cite religious beliefs as a defense when sued by a private party for denying services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. The law has attracted widespread backlash by major corporations, the NCAA and celebrities. Opponents say the “religious freedom” law legalizes and promotes discrimination.

Pence told the Indy Star he would “clarify the intent of the law” to show it does not promote discrimination against LGBT citizens.

On Sunday, the presidents of Indiana University, DePauw University and Butler University all issued public statements opposing the bill. Each pledged to continue their own non-discrimination policies in how they provide services, and their recruitment, hiring and promotion of employees.

“The damage already done to Indiana’s reputation is such that all public officials and public institutions in our state need to reaffirm our absolute commitment to the Hoosier values of fair treatment and non-discrimination,” IU President Michael McRobbie said.

“These are not merely words written in a policy and soon forgotten,” McRobbie added. “These are core values by which every member of the Indiana University community is expected to treat his or her fellow colleagues, students and visitors.”

McRobbie said he hopes the controversy will move the state to reconsider the “unnecessary legislation.”

“While I have read a variety of opinions and rationale for RFRA, it strikes me as ill-conceived legislation at best, and I fear that some of those who advanced it have allowed their personal or political agendas to supersede the best interests of the State of Indiana and its people,” said Butler President James Danko. “No matter your opinion of the law, it is hard to argue with the fact it has done significant damage to our state.”

DePauw President Brian Casey said: “I am, by practice, reluctant to comment in any way on current political matters. As president of a university, I must do all I can to ensure that the free exchange of ideas is both protected and nurtured. I would not want any statement from me to chill discussion on DePauw’s campus on any issue. Legislation that has the effect of either encouraging or condoning discrimination, however, must be addressed.”

Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, the former Republican governor of the state, has not weighed in on the law. Daniels’ office did not respond to request for comment Monday from The Huffington Post.
Source: Huff Post

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