Daily VideoApril 1, 2015
Religious freedom bill in Indiana causes backlash
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a state bill into law this week that proponents say will protect religious freedom in the state, but that others criticize as enabling discrimination.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act bars the government from “substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion.” The bill has prompted a wide backlash along with confusion over whether it was created to legalize discrimination.
Critics say the current version of the bill allows businesses to refuse service to people that do not align with their religious beliefs, specifically LGBT individuals. Some proponents of the bill say it would “protect” the religious freedom of Christian businesses who do not want to serve married same-sex couples, in a state where same-sex marriage became legal in 2014.
Pence has struggled to answer critics of the bill but has said it is not intended to aid discrimination. Pence said that the law’s language will be “clarified” in the coming days to ensure that it “does not give businesses the right to deny services to anyone.”
The bill has economic implications, with some businesses such as Angie’s List saying they will no longer operate in Indiana or hold company events there.
The issue has forced a spotlight on a normally quiet state at an important cultural moment, according to NewsHour’s Lisa Desjardins, reporting from Indianapolis. “I think there is a sense in this town that they’re now at the crossroads of the debate over rights in America,” she said.
The Arkansas legislature also passed a similar bill this week, sending it to governor Asa Hutchinson to sign or veto.
Warm up questions
- By what process does a state bill become law?
- What does it mean to have religious freedom? What are some ways people exercise religious freedom in the U.S.?
Critical thinking questions
- Which individuals could be affected by the law in Indiana? Which individuals would not be affected? Why?
- Why do you think this law was created? How do you think this law and the national movement for LGBT equal rights are related?
- The Indiana law currently bans the government from “substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion,” a phrase that has caused confusion and backlash. How do you interpret the meaning of that phrase? How would you clarify it, and why?
Tooltip of related stories
Tooltip of more video block
Submit Your Student Voice
Daily News Lesson: How fires, dry conditions are drastically increasing air pollution across California
Hear from one local reporter about why air has never been as polluted in central California as it is right now Continue reading
Daily News Lesson: Five economic terms your students should know about the global supply chain problem
What does the phrase “American supply chain” mean and and how does it affect you and your family and the economy overall? Continue reading
Hear from one young refugee on how poetry and art have helped her process trauma Continue reading
Daily News Lesson: How Trump’s disinformation campaign about 2020 presidential election spreads a dangerous message
Donald Trump in Iowa highlights grievances against Democrats with more lies about the 2020 election that he lost Continue reading
Hear from one law professor about the risk to our electoral system and how to ensure election security going forward Continue reading