You might have missed the news if you were at Mass for Holy Thursday, but the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana was revised, and signed into law, a few hours ago with the following revision,
Sec. 0.7. This chapter does not: (1) authorize a provider to refuse to offer or provide services, facilities, use of public accommodations, goods, employment, or housing to any member or members of the general public on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or United States military service; (2) establish a defense to a civil action or criminal prosecution for refusal by a provider to offer or provide services, facilities, use of public accommodations, goods, employment, or housing to any member or members of the general public on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or United States military service; or (3) negate any rights available under the Constitution of the State of Indiana.
One of the institutions that commented on this change is Marian University. President Dan Elsener issued the following statement to local news organizations,
During the past few days, several people have asked me whether I plan to comment on the controversy surrounding Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. I’ve given this a lot of thought. People I respect on both sides of this issue have contributed their ideas, and I wanted to take the time to give careful consideration to the fundamental values that are at stake here.
As a Catholic university, Marian University is deeply committed to the value of religious freedom. We strongly support the position of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops which says, “If religious liberty is not properly understood, all people suffer and are deprived of the essential contribution to the common good, be it in education, health care, feeding the hungry, civil rights, and social services that individuals make every day, both here at home and overseas.”
We also believe in the dignity and civil rights of every person regardless of race, religion, age, disability, ethnic heritage or sexual orientation. We support the action called for by the CEOs of nine major Indiana corporations asking the governor and the legislature to “make it clear that Indiana is the welcoming state we all believe it to be” and to “take immediate action to ensure that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act will not sanction or encourage discrimination against any residents or visitors to our state by anyone.”
Both values–religious freedom and civil rights for all–are important to us, and we want to work with people of good will in our home state and everywhere to make sure these values are protected for the benefit of all.
After careful consideration and consultation, I am asking every member of the Marian University community to pray that leaders in our state will come to a successful resolution of the issues that divide us now. I also ask every one of us to respect the opinions and values of others–especially those we disagree with–so that we can work together to find common ground and solutions to the challenges we face as individuals and as a community.
The Franciscan values that distinguish Marian University commit us to the dignity of the individual, peace and justice, reconciliation and responsible stewardship. These values speak directly to the controversy facing our state today. As we enter Holy Week and the Easter season, let’s do everything in our power to affirm the values of religious freedom and civil rights for all. Let’s pray for the intercession of our patron, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi as we work to foster the values that distinguish us as a community of faith dedicated to preparing transformational leaders for service to the world.
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