Presidents in Indiana Decry 'Religious Freedom' Law

March 30, 2015

The presidents of three universities in Indiana issued statements over the weekend criticizing Indiana's new "religious freedom" law, which state lawmakers say is needed to protect religious freedom but is viewed by many as license for businesses to discriminate against L.G.B.T. people. The legislation says that the government cannot "burden" private entities with policies that clash with individual views of religious obligations.

On Sunday evening, Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie issued a statement that said in part: "The recent passage of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act has brought significant negative attention to the state of Indiana throughout the nation and indeed the world, because the law is widely viewed as signaling an unwelcoming and discriminatory atmosphere in our state. While Indiana University hopes that the controversy of the past few days will move the state government to reconsider this unnecessary legislation, the damage already done to Indiana’s reputation is such that all public officials and public institutions in our state need to reaffirm our absolute commitment to the Hoosier values of fair treatment and nondiscrimination."

Butler University President James Danko issued a statement that reaffirmed the university's anti-bias commitment and that called the new law "ill-conceived legislation at best."

DePauw University President Brian Casey issued a statement in which he said that he normally strives not to comment on political issues, and that he wants all sides of issues to be debated at the university. But he added: "Legislation that has the effect of either encouraging or condoning discrimination, however, must be addressed. I join with other Indiana corporations, leaders in industry and institutions of higher education and urge the governor and the legislature to take all steps necessary to address the harm this legislation has caused."

A spokesman for Purdue University said that, consistent with policy there not to take part in such public policy debates, President Mitch Daniels will not make a statement on the law.

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