The president of Butler University, James Danko, has chosen to weigh-in on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), that was signed into law on Thursday, by Indiana Governor Mike Pence. This law has created quite a controversy as businesses, and even other cities across the country have chosen to take a stand against a law being described as discriminatory. In the statement released by Butler University, the new Indiana law is described as being ill-conceived and points out the damage it has already done to the state.
Danko starts his statement by pointing out that in his position as president of the University, he is a supporter of an environment in which there is open discussion, and critical inquiry into a diverse array of topics. He states that both opinions and free speech should be valued and respected. Although Danko says he was apprehensive about stating his own opinions about RFRA, he felt it was important that he share his own perspectives on the law in Indiana. Plus he wanted to reinforce the values that the University stands behind.
In the statement, Danko admits that he has read a number of pieces from both sides of the argument. He goes on to say that, it appears as if those individuals who pushed the law through, have allowed their own personal beliefs and agendas to come before what is in the best interest of the state and the people. As he points out, the new law has already started to cause damage to the state, in the form of lost business and protests.
In the statement, the president reminds people that Butler University is an environment open to everyone, and that they reject discrimination, something that many critics of the new Indiana law believe has been legalized. Denko continues by saying that now is the time to continue building an environment where all individuals can thrive, grow, learn and work together.
Danko spoke on the history of the university, and their own ideals of inclusivity, while also encouraging the leaders of the state of Indiana to take immediate action, in an effort to address all of the damage that has already been done by the signing of the RFRA. He went on to encourage those state leaders to reaffirm that the state of Indiana is a welcoming place that will still support, encourage, respect and also value all individuals, no matter what their race, creed, religion or sexual orientation happens to be.
Butler University is not the only organization to release a statement about the law in Indiana. A number of businesses and mayors have spoken out regarding the RFRA signing, and their feelings on the situation. The mayors of both Seattle and San Francisco have not only issued statements regarding the signing of the bill, but have prohibited taxpayer funded trips to Indiana for city workers. Companies such as Salesforce, Yelp and Angie’s List have all halted business expansions within the state. These companies, along with others such as Apple, have all issued statements addressing the governor and their feelings regarding the discriminatory nature of the bill. It is up to the politicians now to address these issues and statements.
By Kimberley Spinney
Photo by The West End – Flickr License