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Posted on Apr 1, 2015 | 1 comment

Indiana’s Bishops Issue Statement on Religious Freedom Law

Indiana’s Bishops Issue Statement on Religious Freedom Law

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From The Criterion, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis: 

The recent passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana appears to have divided the people of our state like few other issues in recent memory. We urge all people of good will to show mutual respect for one another so that the necessary dialogue and discernment can take place to ensure that no one in Indiana will face discrimination whether it is for their sexual orientation or for living their religious beliefs.

The Catholic Church is convinced that every human being is created in the image of God. As such, each and every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. This includes the right to the basic necessities for living a good life, including adequate healthcare, housing, education, and work. The Catholic Church teaches that the principle of religious freedom also is rooted in the dignity of the human person. Religious freedom is one of the most cherished rights in the U.S. Constitution. The rights of a person should never be used inappropriately in order to deny the rights of another. We are called to justice and mercy.

We believe that it is crucial that religious freedom be protected. As Pope Francis wrote in his apostolic exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel: “No one can demand that religion should be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life, without concern for the soundness of civil institutions” (n. 183).

We support efforts to uphold the God-given dignity of all the people of this state while safeguarding the rights of people of all faiths to practice their religion without undue burden from the government.

Most Rev. Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., Archdiocese of Indianapolis

Most Rev. Charles C. Thompson, Diocese of Evansville

Most Rev. Donald J. Hying, Diocese of Gary

Most Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend

Most Rev. Timothy L. Doherty Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana


For more on religious freedom issues:

Click here for our Religious Liberty resources page. Click here to see all our previous stories and guest posts on religious liberty issues.

Click here for the USCCB’s resource page on the Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty.

Click here to see all our current stories.

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1 Comment

  1. Well said by the bishops, but how is this applied? The Catholic League President offered this observation on pizza store owners in Indiana who agree with the Indiana religious liberty law and will not service a gay wedding:
    “The O’Connor family has owned Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Indiana for nine years, and it says it will not provide pizzas for a gay wedding. “We’re not discriminating against anyone,” explains Crystal O’Connor, “that’s just our belief and anyone has the right to believe in anything.”
    Ms. O’Connor would have no ground to stand on, either morally or legally, were she to say that her store will not serve gays. But she has not said that. In fact, she has explicitly said she would never refuse gays. What she has said is that if her family were to service a gay wedding, it would have to violate its sincerely held religious convictions.
    The O’Connor case brings into stark relief the difference between discriminating against a person and servicing an event. The difference is even more acute when the event carries religious significance.
    Should a Jewish baker be forced to put a swastika on a birthday cake? Should an African American baker be forced to put the “N-word” on a cake? Should a gay baker be forced to put “Gays Are Sick” on a cake? If not, why should a pizza owner, who has a religious objection to gay marriage, be forced to service a gay wedding?
    The root of this problem is almost always overlooked, either out of ignorance or volition. To wit: It is a monumental mistake to associate sexual orientation with race, ethnicity, nationality, sex, or religion. The latter characteristics tell us nothing about behavior. The same is not true of sexual orientation—unlike the other categories it has a teleology. To be specific, sexual orientation is meaningless without referencing the object of the orientation, which is sexuality. This is not a value-neutral characteristic. Indeed, every society in history has, rightly, made value judgments about sexuality, typically on the basis of its religious precepts.
    Gay activists and their elite supporters need to practice more tolerance for the diversity that people of faith have to offer. They also need to reread the First Amendment.”

    The key phrase here is “the difference between discriminating against a person and servicing an event.” Early Christians were good citizens and served Rome as soldiers, craftsman, etc. But they would not pinch incense for the Emperor and call him “god.”
    They knew the difference and so should we.