People often forget that Indiana is one of the most conservative states in the country. Not as loud or flamboyant in their efforts as states like Texas, they are able to fly under the radar and pass ridiculously conservative legislation without the national scrutiny. The latest GOP-backed bill is no different.
Senate Bill 127, which passed the Republican-controlled Senate 391-11 this week, would allow state contracts to be awarded to businesses that discriminate in hiring based on applicants’ religious beliefs, the Northwest Indiana Times (NWI) reported.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Travis Holdman (R), said he wants the state government to handle hiring contractors the same way the federal government does — allowing businesses to “maintain their religious identity while using taxpayer funds to provide social service programs.”
“We’re not asking for folks in Indiana to do any more than that our friends in the federal government are allowed to do with federal contracts,” Holdman said.
Indiana’s Democratic senators, however, aren’t buying it and called the legislation “an outrageous overreach by authorizing discrimination.”
“We are opening the door here to something that is going to be really litigious,” said Sen. Karen Tallian. “This goes well beyond hiring a secretary for the church office.”
Tallian pointed out that most of Northwest Indiana’s hospitals are Catholic-run, said NWI. “Will the doctors and nurses and janitors be made to attend church? What about eating meat on Friday? What about using birth control?”
“And then,” asked Tallian, “who decides when a person has conformed to the tenets of the religion? A board at the hospital? The Diocese of Gary? The Spanish Inquisition? Who is going to be the person that makes this decision? And how are these prospective employees supposed to decide, or even know, what they have to conform to?”
The legislation will now move to the state House of Representatives, which is made up of 71 Republicans and just 29 Democrats. Barring a mutiny by a large number of GOPers, the ridiculous bill shouldn’t have problems passing.
Two more proposals, both of which would authorize business to discriminate against customers based upon the owners’ religious beliefs, are expected to be reviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, too.
The GOP hasn’t really thought these bills through, it seems. While they would allow Christian business to discriminate as they see fit, businesses run by followers of any non-Christian religion would legally be allowed to do the same. And we all know the outrage that Republicans unleash when they think someone is discriminating against Christians.