Christopher Arend, in his April 8 letter to the editor, stated that Indiana’s original Religious Freedom Restoration Act “mirrored the 1993 Federal RFRA.” This is false.
The federal law stipulates that nonprofit, religious organizations (and more recently, closely-held corporations where owners share the same religious beliefs) could use RFRA to defend their practices in a lawsuit against the government.
However, the Indiana law extended RFRA’s protections to any group of people, any corporation (incorporated for secular or commercial purposes) and any business, regardless of whether or not members of that corporation or business share a religious belief. This would further extend religious freedom protections to the commercial, profit-making world.
Mr. Arend, in his letter, further stated that government cannot force people to respect — or even tolerate — what others do. This again is false.
The First Amendment stipulates that the “free exercise” of religion does not allow a person to use religion as a reason not to obey generally applicable laws (including nondiscrimination laws). To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.