If Indiana were to enact a RFRA, the legislation would have the unintended effect of increasing government involvement in religious matters. Individuals could claim any law or government action burdens their exercise of religion. The legislation would require employers, government bureaucrats and ultimately judges to delve into people’s religious beliefs and determine whether they are “sincerely held”—which does just the opposite of getting government out of meddling in religion.
Our concerns about these bills are based not on conjecture, but on the very real experiences of other states and municipalities where similar legislation has already been passed. As the examples below demonstrate, anyone could claim an exemption from state or local laws they deem burdensome to their individual religious beliefs:
• A police officer in Oklahoma asserted a religious objection to attending a community relations event held at a mosque, claiming a “moral dilemma.”
• In New Mexico, a religious leader cited that state’s RFRA when he appealed a conviction for sexually abusing two teenagers.
• Pharmacists in several states have used religious freedom as a defense for refusing to dispense contraception.
• In Michigan, a school guidance counselor refused to help gay students because of the counselor’s religious beliefs.
There are many more examples of how these laws have been misused, but you get the idea. Even if a claim is frivolous, the government will still have to use your tax dollars to fight it in court.
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