"Religious Freedom" in Indiana

[Content Note: Christian Supremacy.]

Yesterday, the Indiana State Senate passed a "religious freedom" bill, with all 40 Senate Republicans voting for it and all 10 Senate Democrats voting against it:
The legislation is intended to protect people with strong religious beliefs, but has raised questions about the dividing line between religious freedom and discrimination.

..."You don't have to look too far to find a growing hostility toward people of faith," author Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis, said. "This bill acts as a shield, not a sword."
This is, of course, bullshit. There is nothing even resembling a "growing hostility toward people of faith" in Indiana, especially against conservative Christians, for whom this legislation was written and by whom it's supported. People of minority religions, and agnostics and atheists, who do suffer hostility in the overwhelmingly conservative Christian state, neither advocated for nor will be protected by this bill—the entire point of which is to give conservative Christian homobigots the legal right to discriminate against same-sex couples after same-sex marriage was legalized in Indiana last year.
The bill has become a rallying point for conservatives disappointed with last year's defeat of a proposed constitutional same-sex marriage ban and subsequent federal court decisions that effectively legalized gay marriage in Indiana.

Supporters say the measure is needed to protect religious business owners who don't want to provide services for same-sex weddings.

Critics, however, say the measure would legalize discrimination against gays and lesbians.
And trans people, and genderqueer people, and people of minority religions, and people who are not religious at all.

This law is written so broadly that the implications are enormous. An emergency room doctor, even if zie's the only one on duty, could refuse to perform a lifesaving abortion. A pharmacist could refuse to dispense birth control. A utility company, even if it has a monopoly in the area, could deny service to same-sex couples, or atheists, or Wiccans. All they have to do is claim that to provide service to queer people, or nonbelievers, or "witches," is a religious burden, that "compels a person to take an action that is contrary to the person's exercise of religion."

And "person" is defined as: "An individual, an association, a partnership, a limited liability company, a corporation, a church, a religious institution, an estate, a trust, a foundation, or any other legal entity."

Any legal entity is allowed to withhold any service on the basis that providing such service is contrary to their religious beliefs.

And "I don't like those people because my god said so" is sufficient justification of those beliefs. In fact, the law stipulates that "the person's sincerely held religious belief" is a legal justification "regardless of whether the religious belief is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief." Got that? So, don't want to provide services to people of color? Just assert it's a "sincerely held religious belief," and it doesn't matter that there's no recognized religious justification for it. All that matters is that you "sincerely" believe it.

This is incredible. This is harmful. This is the legal right to discriminate against marginalized people passed under the auspices of protecting privileged people who need no protection.

This is Indiana: The Conservative Legislation Lab.

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