Letter: Rep. Lucas’ defense of RFRA doesn’t cut it

Rep. Lucas’ defense of RFRA doesn’t cut it

To the editor:

The recent article by State Rep. Jim Lucas is the subject of this letter. The article appeared in recent issues of both the (Columbus) Republic and Tribune, and explains (or excuses) Lucas’s position on sponsoring and voting for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

First of all, I think there is need for a RFRA-like law to protect churches, parochial schools and other faith-based organizations from lawsuits that conflict directly with the religious beliefs of the organization.

However, I read the original law four times and still cannot tell you what is allowed and what is not allowed by the original law. At best, this is poor lawmaking, and at worst the law as originally written encourages prejudice and bigotry.

My problem is not with the law, as it is now amended. My problem is with the means by which the law passed. With a super majority in both state Legislature and with a governor of the same party, it’s easy for public officials to believe they have an ironclad mandate to pass anything that fits their ideology without negative consequences.

This tendency is known as “groupthink” and occurs when uniformity of ideas is demanded and dissenting opinions are suppressed and ignored. Despite significant objections of Indiana businesses like Cummins, Eli Lilly, Angie’s List, etc., the Legislature and the governor passed a bill that irretrievably damages Indiana’s reputation and economy.

Had anyone listened to the multiple, responsible, Indiana voices advising against the original law as it was written, we could have avoided much of the negative economic effects and damage to our reputation.

Now Rep. Lucas and Gov. Mike Pence would have you believe that this is all a big misunderstanding and that the law never intended to discriminate against individuals. If that is so, why did the lobbyists advocating the original bill announce victory for individual, discriminating businesses publicly, even while the governor was doing a wretched, evasive job of explaining the bill in the national media?

Rep. Lucas and Gov. Pence would have the public believe that all of the problem was caused by “distortion by many in the media,” which is a quote from Rep. Lucas’s article.

Rep. Lucas did not recognize in his article the first mention of protection against LGBT discrimination in any Indiana state law is now in the amendment to the original RFRA.

Rep. Lucas also skipped the fact that the State of Indiana has now hired an international public relations firm to attempt to counteract the real and costly reputational damage to Indiana’s image, for the sum of a million dollars to start.

It’s one thing to belong and support a political club like either the Republican or Democrat party. It’s quite another to believe so completely in your club that you’ll do anything the club says, and make excuses later.

Rep. Lucas’s and Gov. Pence’s ideology have set Indiana back in a number of ways that will only become evident over time, and the people of Indiana are left with the bill.

John Fox