Travis Christian Assembly
By ED WILLS
Should a Christian bakery owner be forced to provide a cake for a gay wedding that is against his religious beliefs? Will alcohol sales on Sundays at grocery stores be permitted? How about live dealer tables featuring black jack at gambling casinos?
These are among the issues of special concern to Christians being considered during the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly currently underway in Indianapolis.
Indianapolis Republican Sen. Scott Schneider is expected to add to what he calls the state’s “religious framework” to allow businesses like caterers and florists to refuse service to gays and lesbians who are getting a state-allowed wedding based upon the owner’s religious belief that such a marriage is not permitted under God’s law. (A measure that banned gay marriage in Indiana was overturned in federal court last year.)
Schneider’s bill, which some have dubbed a proposed religious freedom law, is about more than gay marriage, though that will likely receive the most focus. Actually it would protect anyone from being forced by government to do anything that is against their religious beliefs. A draft version of the bill reads government’s actions “shall not burden a person’s right to exercise of religion.”
Opponents of the bill will charge that it will enable discrimination, especially when it comes to same sex marriage. Supporters of the bill will say its purpose is really about limiting government’s ability to eliminate freedom of religion.
Other bills of interest would:
- Allow Preferential Hiring – A bill to be introduced by Travis Holdman (R-Markle) would require state and local contracts of education and religious organizations to contain language allowing preferential hiring. They also would require that employees comply with the beliefs of the organization. A similar measure last year was defeated.
- Sunday Alcohol Sales – Grocery stores, pharmacies and convenience stores are seeking permission to sell alcohol on Sundays. The measure, if passed, would add another line item to their bottom line. Similar bills have been brought up in several previous sessions.
- Riverboat Gambling – Legislation that would allow riverboat gambling to move onto land have failed in previous sessions but it could be reintroduced this year.
- Ethics Reform – Will tighter rules lead to better government? Ethics reform will be revisited this year after a member of the legislature killed a bill that would have adversely affected a nursing home his family owned and controversial matters. Support for reform may be wide spread.
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