Indiana, the birthplace of the white supremacist group Ku Klux Clan, is now again the center of controversy regarding discrimination. The state legislature recently passed a religious restoration statute which allows the individual to be protected from suit if the act to be done is offending to the individual?s religious belief or affiliations. While this may seem innocuous enough, the ramifications are deep as well as disturbing for a country which protects the life liberty and pursuit of happiness for all.
These are a tale of two contending rights, the right to religious freedom and the Equal protection clause. In the application of the proposed measure, individuals are given leeway according to their personal belief system if an act is to be done. This is a problem, as government clerks would be justified in not providing government services under this protection to say homosexual couples if their religion considers being gay as a moral depravity. This may also occur when a policeman refuses to do his duty in manning a barricade at an abortion clinic, on the grounds that abortion is prohibited in their religion. In both instances, the denied recipient of the service may cry foul under current legislation, but would prove to be powerless when these kinds of laws are passed and allowed to be exercised.
The Aftershocks of the proposed bill
In a report by the New York Times, rumblings have caused Indiana Governor Mike Pence is caught between a rock and a hard place, placating a voter base wanting to exercise its religious rights and business groups promising hell to pay if this measure is signed into law.
While in general the law is sound, the problematic provision in the measure is the prevention by the law for state and/or local government intervention from ?infringing upon an individual?s religious beliefs without a ?compelling ? interest.? As couched in general terms, the legislation protects and even upholds discrimination based on religious grounds. One of the immediate concerns is the effectivity of the Affordable Care Act, specifically free contraceptive coverage, based on the merchant or retailers own religious beliefs.
Another venue for conflict is at the federal level, as critics say that this fosters the very concept American history has proven to have seen as evil and malicious. It supporters, according to a report from the Atlantic, say the Indiana law is not too different from the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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