Ind. Governor Mike Pence signs religious freedom bill

by Associated Press  |  published on March 26, 2015

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Thursday signed into law a religious objections bill that some convention organizers and business leaders have opposed amid concern it could allow discrimination against gay people.

Indiana is the first state to enact such a change this year among about a dozen where such proposals have been introduced. The measure would prohibit state and local laws that “substantially burden” the ability of people – including businesses and associations – to follow their religious beliefs.

Pence, a Republican, backed the bill as it moved through the Legislature and spoke at a Statehouse rally last month that drew hundreds of supporters of the proposal. The governor signed the bill in a private ceremony.

Pence said in a statement Thursday that the bill ensures “religious liberty is fully protected under Indiana law.”

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” he said.

In a letter to Pence sent Wednesday, leaders of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) warned that the legislation was causing them to reconsider plans to hold their 6,000-person General Assembly in Indianapolis in 2017. The CEO of a gathering of gamers considered to be the city’s largest annual convention also expressed concern about the bill, which the state Senate passed Tuesday.