Gov. Pence to sign religious freedom bill into law Thursday

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 25, 2015)– Governor Mike Pence will sign Indiana’s controversial religious freedom restoration bill, SB 101, in a private ceremony Thursday. This comes after Mayor Greg Ballard spoke out against the bill Wednesday.

“I don’t believe this legislation truly represents our state or our capital city,” Ballard said.

Indiana is not alone in this debate. Since the U.S. Supreme Court said in 1997 the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act didn’t apply to states, it sent statehouses nationwide swirling to reinforce the law locally.

Right now, 19 states have a religious freedom law on the books, some for years.

Opponents claim the bill would allow Indiana business owners to refuse service to customers based on their religious beliefs. Supporters of the bill argue the measure is needed to protect Indiana business owners from too much government control.

On Tuesday, Gen Con released a statement saying the bill will factor into their decision-making on hosting the convention in Indiana.

The convention welcomed over 50,000 visitors from every state and 40 different countries last year. It pumped roughly $50 million into the local economy.

The author of the bill says there are many misconceptions surrounding the bill.

“It’s unfortunate that folks are making decisions based on some of the public comments that are out there that I think are factually incorrect,”said State Senator Scott Schneider (R – Indianapolis).

The bill passed with overwhelming support, so CBS4 made calls to local businesses in counties across central Indiana in the hopes of talking to a business owner who supports the legislation.

“Business owners are afraid to be out front on this.  There’s no upside for them to do anything like that,” said Schneider.

The Indiana Catholic Conference strongly supports the legislation.

“If we thought that this bill would lead to unjust discrimination we would not be supportive of it,” said Glenn Tebbe, the executive director of the Indiana Catholic Conference.

The Disciples of Christ Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins wrote Governor Pence a letter saying, “We are particularly distressed at the thought that, should RFRA be signed into law, some of our members and friends might not be welcome in Indiana businesses – might experience legally sanctioned bias and rejection once so common on the basis of race.”

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