How is Indiana’s RFRA Bill Different?

gavel-568417_1280Indiana became the 20th state to pass an RFRA legislation this past week. All 20 states are putting state-level perimeters to the Federal legislation passed by Bill Clinton in 1993. I am not sure about you, but I was completely unaware when the other 19 states rolled out their legislation, but you may be living under a rock (or are completely detached from all media) if you have not heard about Indiana doing the same. I use same loosely here as there are a few key differences in Indiana’s version that is the source of the uproar.

I have been following this news only since last week. I have been doing my best to understand this piece of legislation and the ramifications it will have on the state that has always been my home. This post is not intended to sway anyone to one side of the fence or the other. I simply want to help anyone who is curious about the difference between IN and the other 19 states.

In the lines of this bill–like all legal documents–the terms must be defined. In this bill, a “person” (as seen below)  is defined by four different categories, which include a for profit business. (source)

Sec. 7. As used in this chapter, “person” includes the following:

(1) An individual.

(2) An organization, a religious society, a church, a body of communicants, or a group organized and operated primarily for religious purposes.

(3) A partnership, a limited liability company, a corporation,a company, a firm, a society, a joint-stock company, an unincorporated association, or another entity that:(A) may sue and be sued; and(B) exercises practices that are compelled or limited by a system of religious belief held by:(i) an individual; or(ii) the individuals;who have control and substantial ownership of the entity,regardless of whether the entity is organized and operated for profit or nonprofit purposes.

The other unique verbiage that has forced Indiana in the spotlight is that this bill allows the exercise of religion to be used in a court of law. (source)

Sec. 9. A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding. If the relevant governmental entity is not a party to the proceeding, the governmental entity has an unconditional right to intervene in order to respond to the person’s invocation of this chapter.

At this time, the Indiana government is looking to make certain parts of this bill more clear. You can read more about the bill in an article from the local paper: The Indy Star

I believe that however you view Indiana’s bill and others like it, we need to be praying for all government officials. It is a tough job weeding through the opinions and beliefs of supporters, the general public, and your own convictions in order to execute what you believe to be the best for the whole. I would urge all of you to seek out the list of those involved in your government from the city mayor up to the president and pray for them frequently.

And if you are a believer of Jesus, I will leave you with this simple, yet deep thought from Matthew chapter 22:

34Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.

35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:

36“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 

38This is the first and greatest commandment.

39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 

40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

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