Governor Pence’s signing of Indiana’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Bill”

March 27, 2015 • 12:33 pm

A few hours ago I wrote about Indiana’s odious new “Religious Freedom Restoration bill,” which allows people virtually any form of discrimination so long as it has a religious justification. Gays, of course, are the bill’s main target.

Reader Amy then sent me a photo of the bill’s signing ceremony, a ceremony largely kept secret. Because the photo was so bizarre, I wanted independent confirmation that this was a real photo instead of a PhotoShop job. And I found it: the photo was posted on LGBTQ Nation’s site, credited to the “Indiana governor’s office.”

You can see why I was skeptical:


Yes, we see not only Republican (of course) governor Mike Pence signing the bill, but all the people around him who were invited to watch—presumably those who favor such discrimination. Oy gewalt!! (That goes especially for you, rabbi!)

You can read the bill here, and there’s a video on rtv6, the local ABC news channel, that also shows the picture.  Indiana now joins 19 other states in legalizing discrimination. The video also shows Pence frantically justifying his decision.

80 thoughts on “Governor Pence’s signing of Indiana’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Bill”

  1. If xianity truly were a religion of peace and love there wouldn’t be any xians in that picture.

    The creepy thing is the incongruity between the behavior they are proudly comemerating and their smiling faces.

    [My spell check (rarely used) thought “xianity” should be “inanity.” How appropriate is that?]

  2. Shouldn’t they call it what it is: the Institutionalized Bigotry Restoration Act?

    Seriously, that’s an honest name for it and I could respect them, in a tiny way, if they would simply be honest about their bigotry.

    1. Or perhaps the Institutionalized Bigotry Affirmation Act.

      Come on, oh pious ones, shout your bigotry from the mountaintops!

      1. There are 2.5 million Muslims in the U.S. I haven’t heard that any of them are throwing gays off buildings.
        I suspect that they are more apt to be victimized by this bill than be benefited by it.

    1. Altho at first glance, for a fraction of a second I registered all the nuns as Muslim women. I sometimes forget that some women still robe-up for Xianity as well.

      1. I’ve been thinking about women’s attire lately. Culturally, expectations vary through time and place. In tropical lands traditional clothing may put emphasis on a bit of jewelry and not much else. Until the invention of the bikini American women wore several yards of cloth on the sweltering beach. In parts of the Muslim world, women are isolated in bags, or at least must cover their heads. Everything being equal, eventually the middle east might end up looking like the French Riviera.

          1. “While most women would prefer something squarely in between those bookends. ;)”

            “Bookish” takes on an entirely different meaning.

        1. Burka fabric:
          Georgette (from crêpe Georgette) is a sheer, lightweight, dull-finished crêpe fabric named after the early 20th century French dressmaker Georgette de la Plante.

          1. LOL- methinks Georgette would be horrified if her fabric was made into those hideous sacks. I thought that georgette was more chiffonish??

              1. Wow! Who knew you could get stretchy burqas, although I can hardly understand the need…

      1. No true Pastafarian (Scottish or not) would soggify their noodle by being associated with this bunch of closeted (both senses) Nazis.

    1. That would guarantee a few days misdirection and breathing space from conservative outlets, in which they could distract people from the leap back in time they’ve just helped enact by complaining about ‘secular aggression and hostility’.

      The parting of atheist lips constitutes a sort of aggression to Fox News and their ilk – but what really infuriates them is reasonable, unobjectionable criticism. They can’t stand not occupying the moral high ground, and even swearing is enough to cede a little of it.

      Although ‘fuck you, fuck you, FUCK YOU’ just about sums up my feelings at this moment. I am too angry to write more.

  3. It never ceases to amaze me that the Omni-Omni-Omni poobah that controls all the (four) planets and firmament and lilies of the field cares so much about hats.

  4. Thanks the SCOTUS wingnuts and the Hobby Lobby decision for this….Hope someone challenges it immediately.

  5. Having lived in Indiana for over 30 years, it seems that the dumb keep getting dumber. Pence is going to run for president. He won’t get far but this picture will be coming back if he does. I knew he was brain dead but him releasing this picture and not realizing it’s impact really shows that.

    1. He underestimates the residual hatred and mistrust of Catholics by Indiana’s protestants. Or perhaps he forgets that 100 years ago the KKK took over the Indiana government (including the governor’s office) on an anti-Catholic platform.

      1. Do I correctly recall that a hundred or so years ago it was in one of the two houses of the Indiana legislature that a bill was introduced decreeing that the value of Pi is exactly 3?

  6. It is a good reminder to all that Bill Clinton signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993. They don’t call him Bubba from Arkansas for nothing.

    The ignorance concerning freedom of religion in the constitution is probably only surpassed by the next amendment – right to carry guns. And in case some might want a refresher – it is the right to practice your religion without interference from the government. It has not a thing to do with your right to shove that religious belief on anyone else. Or to stop following law because of your religion.

    Some gun lovers just give you a stupid look when you remind them that the 2nd amendment was passed about 70 years before the invention of the bullet.

      1. Not sure what you are looking for? There were no cartridges or guns that fired them until about civil war time and that was very minimal. That was also 1860 plus. The bill of rights including the second amendment were reluctantly put out there by Madison in 1789 so….do the math.

        Additionally, the entire population of the U.S. at this time was less than 4 million people. If you had a gun at that time in New York or Georgia it was a muzzle loader and you probably were not doing any drive by shootings.

        1. If you had a gun at that time in New York or Georgia it was a muzzle loader and you probably were not doing any drive by shootings.

          News flash : gun nuts in [some southern State] launch a campaign of drive by shootings using Brown Bess muskets and stage coaches.
          No need to guess the colour of the skin – or blood – of the targets.

  7. I can’t help but note all of the people of “the cloth” in this photo are religious extremists: men and women from celibate orders and an Orthodox rabbi. Even in benighted middle America, they are minorities within minority religious franchises.

    The sick thing of it is, if and when this law is overturned, the a-holes who made it happen still got what they wanted: hollow gestures and a photo op for the rubes. When they run for reelection, this will be “old news” and will prevail again due to the long memories of reactionaries and the short ones of regular apolitical folk.

    I am hopeful companies will punish the state’s Repugs for this by withholding business, but my operative theory is that today’s GOP doesn’t really care if any citizens or corporations do well – even though that’s supposedly why we have a government in the first place. Each one of them is interested only in his or her own coffers and in the filling-up thereof: and in the upper Midwest, that filling is done by energy companies which give the politicians leeway to do what needs to be done to win. In other words, every last one is nothing but a Kochsucker.

    1. And the thing about Kochsuckers is the Big Grift, which long predates the current political polarization. There is money to be had and suckers born every minute to hand them authority in exchange for mouthing the right platitudes. Were the Democratic Party a more fertile ground, as indeed it may once have been, then the grifters would be mouthing other words to other rubes.

      I’d like to think my party doesn’t so engage, but that’s likely because I don’t want to think of myself as a mark. There is a huge difference, however, in policy – if I’m a fool for voting in people who want to enact halfway rational policy, then so be it. At least the haters can’t get *all* the power. Yet.

    2. Interesting fact: David Koch submitted a friend of the court brief in FAVOR of marriage equality. Not sure how he comes down on public accommodations/employment.

      1. I doubt he’d be concerned about them. It’s clear he & his brother are mainly fiscal conservatives, and since they’re not politicians they don’t have to worry about sucking up to the fundies.

  8. As many have noted, this bill (mostly) mirrors federal RFRA. And while bigots will certainly argue that it means they can discriminate against the LGBTQ community, I think that argument is doomed to failure.

    1. That’s Friar Tuck. I’m not sure which one of those babes is Maid Marian.

      Robin Hood is just out of view, about to do a split-arrow trick-shot from the chandelier.

  9. That crowd looks so weird it just appears photoshopped. Like the guy on the left — is his head really that much larger than the Gov’s? I’ve worked in connection with a couple gov’s offices, and these things happen a lot, but never have I seen a time-warp like this where the gov’s desk takes him thru a time warp to the 12th century (except for the wandering Hassidic fellow, looking relatively futuristic in his dapper 18th C outfit).

    1. I think you may be right. The image we see here is not high resolution. Quite crude actually. This may be intended to disguise the tell tale edges and color mismatches. I’d need to see the original which should be very much more high definition.

  10. I want to be shocked abot the rabbi but this dude isn’t exactly a Reform Jew so meh, I’m not shocked.

    If this isn’t screaming what the religious stand for, I don’t know what does.

  11. This is one illustration of a larger-picture: the insanely imbalance of power between federal and state governments in the US. Perfectly understandable in its historical context of course, but hugely damaging and, thanks to the dopey 10th amendment — the real cancer in the heart of the US Constitution — one that will only get worse with every passing decade, since federal powers can only be increased by constitutional amendment (nowadays almost impossible to achieve on any but the most anodyne matters) while state power faces no predetermined bounds. Result: state governments legislating on matters that are way above their pay grade.

    1. We all know from 6th grade civics how the founders wanted to reconcile the colonies with a federalist system. It’s different now. Maybe it’s time for a a redo.

      1. One invariably hears invective against “Washington.”

        I’m sure state capitals and legislatures are pure as the driven snow.

  12. There’s a mob that looks on the verge of ordering a suspected witch to the ducking-stool. The only thing missing from that bizarre photograph is the terrible visage of Cotton Mather.

  13. The monks/nuns are allegedly Franciscan Brothers/Sisters Minor from New Haven (David Mary Engo in charge, anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-Muslim, he testified in favor of the bill). The same picture shows up on their facebook page.

  14. So much for all those who insisted that this law had nothing to do with religious discrimination.

    And this governor knows this law is something that is WRONG, or he’s be proudly displaying his signing of it. He’s clearly aware he’s pandering to religious extremists.

    My guess? He’s been a naughty boy and his confessor promised him a few years off his stay in purgatory if he did this.

  15. Obviously, it will have been sold to the religious fruitcakes present as a Good Thing (for them…)

  16. Religious freedom does not mean one has the right to discriminate by invoking one’s religion for doing that amounts to religious oppression. One does not have the right to rob others of their freedom from religions they do not follow.

    I can’t believe these bills are becoming law especially after the boycott threats from businesses caused Arizona’s Governor Brewer to change her mind about signing it.

    Have any of these laws been challenged in the courts?

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