I wish I had an anecdote that told you about a time when I have been discriminated against for my religion, but I do not, and I am sure that many of you do not have one either. If you have been discriminated against, you most likely did not react in kind—you are a Christian after all.
As many of you know, Indiana passed a law known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act; Governor Mike Pence signed it into law on March 26. Several individuals and groups have expressed their disapproval of this law, because, to them, it opens the door for people to discriminate, specifically against the LGBT community—except that there is a little more that is wrong with this whole fiasco going on in Indiana. For example, I do not think that they will be the only people who might suffer from discrimination. The law, if it really does allow for people to discriminate, could extend to beyond the LGBT community and could affect atheists and even other people of religion.
According to Govenor Mike Pence, this law does not apply to individuals; rather, it has to do with the empowerment and the protection of people of religion when they feel that the government is impinging on their religious liberties. It would be understandable if Govenor Pence had not dodged the question, “If a gay couple asked a Christian florist to provide service for their wedding, could the Christian florist tell them no?” four times.
Such a law would also be understandable if one did not already exist. We have a law in our constitution granting us the freedom of religion and the ability to practice it—as long as it does not infringe on other’s rights.
This law is about protecting people of religion from being discriminated against. However, I would deduce that the LGBT community suffers more from discrimination than do people of religion. It would then be logical to conclude that such a law would be necessary for those who suffer from it more and not for those who are already an accepted group of society.
Surely our duty as Christians is not to deny service to people we disagree with. We are here to serve all. So, if you own a flower shop and a gay couple, atheist or Muslim comes to you looking for business or a service—a service that you willingly chose to provide—then you kindly serve them. In doing so, we are doing a favor for one another. We benefit from their business and they benefit from our service.
I most likely will not have a personal experience with discrimination for a long time to come, but I am sure that several others (i.e. the LGBT community) could easily provide astonishing accounts of discrimination. This law is unnecessary. We have protection. Let’s share that protection with those who really need it and assure them that their safety and their humanity matter as much as everyone else’s.
Aguilar is a sophomore majoring in political science. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.