Thanking the Conservative Leaders Who Stood with Indiana

Indiana State House (photo via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)
Indiana State House (photo via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Maggie, as I write, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, Ben Carson, and Bobby Jindal have now all voiced their support for Indiana’s religious freedom law to varying degrees.

Jeb Bush told Hugh Hewitt:

“I think if they actually got briefed on the law, that they wouldn’t be blasting this law. … I think Governor Pence has done the right thing. Florida has a law like this. Bill Clinton signed a law like this at the federal level. This is simply allowing people of faith space to be able to express their beliefs. To be able to be people of conscience. I just— I think once the facts are established, people aren’t going to see this as discriminatory at all.”

Bush went on telling Hewitt:

“There are many cases where people acting on their conscience have been castigated by the government. And this law simply says the government has to have a level of burden to be able to establish that there’s been some kind of discrimination. … We’re going to need this. This is really an important value for our country to — in a diverse country, where you can respect and be tolerant of people’s lifestyles but allow for people of faith to be able to exercise theirs.”

In a similar vein as Bush, Ted Cruz released a statement on his website that read:

“I want to commend Governor Mike Pence for his support of religious freedom, especially in the face of fierce opposition. There was a time, not too long ago, when defending religious liberty enjoyed strong bipartisan support. Alas, today we are facing a concerted assault on the First Amendment, on the right of every American to seek out and worship God according to the dictates of his or her conscience. Governor Pence is holding the line to protect religious liberty in the Hoosier State. Indiana is giving voice to millions of courageous conservatives across this country who are deeply concerned about the ongoing attacks upon our personal liberties. I’m proud to stand with Mike, and I urge Americans to do the same.”

During his appearance on Fox News’ “The Five,” Rubio was asked about his views on the law and stated:

“I don’t think Americans want to discriminate against anyone. I think the fundamental question in some of these laws is: should someone be discriminated against because of their religious views. So, no one here is saying it should be legal to deny someone service at a restaurant or at a hotel because of their sexual orientation, I think that’s a consensus view in America. The flip side of it is: should a photographer be punished for refusing to do a wedding that their faith teaches them is not one that is valid in the eyes of God. And so, I think these laws are trying to get at that. Obviously, it’s raised a lot of debate in America about how far these laws go and what implications they would have. It’s a difficult debate to have for a lot of people, but I think the flip side of all of this debate is: what about the religious liberties of Americans who do not want to feel compelled by law to provide a catering service or a photography service to a same sex marriage that their faith teaches them is wrong. And that’s a valid Constitutional concern as well.”

Scott Walker’s statement on the issue was considerably more vague. According to a report, Walker said he does not expect a RFRA to come to Wisconsin:

“Well again, in our state, there’s a balance between wanting to make sure there is not discrimination but at the same time, respecting religious freedoms. We do that different ways than what they’ve done in the state of Indiana, and certainly that’s going to be part of the debate here and across the country.”

Additionally, Walker’s spokeswoman told Breitbart that Walker believes in religious liberty in principle:

“As a matter of principle, Governor Walker believes in broad religious freedom and the right for Americans to exercise their religion and act on their conscience.”

Carly Fiorina spoke in support of the Indiana RFRA and against the knee jerk negative reactions to the law, telling CNBC:

“Well, you know, I think, unfortunately, this is an example of everything that is wrong with politics. The bill, as Mary Thompson correctly pointed out, is based on the national bill that Bill Clinton signed. This is not about protecting discrimination; it’s about protecting religious liberty, and so, in fact, it was this law that was used by, you may recall, the Muslim prisoner who wanted to grow a beard in prison, and he took that case all the way to the Supreme Court and won. Because, basically what this law says is that someone can have a remedy against the federal government for imposing on their religious beliefs. So, I think everybody needs to sort of step back and cool off here and look at the facts, on both sides.”

Fiorina went on, addressing the recent comments from Apple CEO, Tim Cook, who has called the bill “dangerous”:

“I think it’s incumbent upon every CEO to take advantage of all the talent that’s out there. It’s not in any company or particularly a technology company’s interest to discriminate in any way and that’s not what this law does. This law doesn’t condone discrimination. So, I guess what I wish is that everyone could cool off and look at the facts before they jump onto Twitter and condemn something that clearly there’s a huge amount of misunderstanding about.”

Rick Santorum tweeted about his support for Governor Pence and the RFRA:

George Washington’s YAF hosted Rick Santorum last night, after resisting mandatory “sensitivity training” calls on gay issues. (“why bother pretending this is acceptable. You don’t get to go around claiming religious freedom when you’re just hypocritical bigots,” tweeted one student in response.)

Santorum made an impassioned argument for tolerance as a two-way street, according to The College Fix:

“The only sensitivity training we need is to respect every person,” Santorum said Monday to strong applause from roughly half the audience. “Tolerance is the most misused word in the English language.”

“Tolerance means you can say really horrible nasty things that I hate and offend me. . . .That’s how we get along. You have a right to be mean – a right to be nasty to people. That’s how this country works, because we have thick skins and we aren’t offended.”

While an anticipated protest of the event did not materialize, the overly secure environment of the auditorium – five security guards lined its walls – added to the obvious clash of ideologies as the members of the Young America’s Foundation and various liberal and gay pride campus organizations came together in the audience of roughly 200 students and others.

“People aren’t dying in America because of this,” one student said, arguing that business owners should be forced to serve everyone regardless of sexual orientation, the concept addressed in the Indiana law.

Santorum was quick to respond: “Should a gay or lesbian-owned printshop have to print signs for the Westboro Baptists that say ‘God hates fags’?”

“If they have the money to pay, they should,” the student shot back, to “ooohh” from the audience.

Taking the gloves off, Santorum continued: “Should a Jewish printshop have to make signs for the KKK? Should a kosher deli have to serve non-kosher food? It’s a two-way street. Tolerance is a two-way street. If you’re saying that ‘your religious liberties are not as important as my fill in the blank,’ then I’ve got a problem with that.”

“No matter what your passion is on the issues, we need to have a system that says everybody’s allowed in,” Santorum said.

Much like Governor Walker, Rick Perry’s response was vague. According to The Washington Post, Rick Perry’s spokesman told them:

“Governor Perry has always fought to expand religious freedoms, which is why Texas became a beacon for liberty during his leadership. He believes it’s up to the states and their leaders to determine what’s in the best interests of their citizens.”

Apparently no one thought to ask him whether he supports the Texas RFRA that’s been introduced, that some state business groups have opposed (just like in Indiana).

Breitbart secured an exclusive interview with Dr. Ben Carson and raised the topic of the Indiana RFRA. Carson responded:

“It is absolutely vital that we do all we can to allow Americans to practice their religious ways, while simultaneously ensuring that no one’s beliefs infringe upon those of others. We should also serve as champions of freedom of religion throughout the world.”

Bobby Jindal also issued a statement to Breitbart via email:

“I support the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act because I support religious liberty as granted to us in our Constitution. Last year I went to the Reagan Library to argue for the importance of religious liberty and make the case that it is under attack in America today. The fact that there are some who think this law in Indiana, which merely makes it clear that local governments must respect our religious liberty, is controversial clearly shows that religious liberty is indeed under attack. I oppose discrimination and I reject the notion that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is discriminatory.”

Joshua Pinho works for American Principles in Action.