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Senate Committee To Hear Religious Freedom Bills

Brandon Smith

A Senate committee today will hear two versions of legislation that Senate GOP Leader David Long, R-Fort Wayne, says will help protect Hoosiers’ religious liberty.

But the Senate Minority Leader calls it a measure allowing discrimination.

The proposed legislation, dubbed the religious freedom restoration bills, bar the government from burdening a person’s exercise of religion unless there’s a compelling governmental interest to do so.

It closely mirrors a law passed by Congress that applies to the federal government.

But Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, says he’s concerned that the bill is being pushed by Republicans to serve a political agenda.

“Because in the name of religion freedom we’re actually saying to private individuals, ‘You have the right to discriminate and use your religion as a basis for that discrimination,” Lanane says.

But Long says in the two decades the law has existed at the federal level, it’s never been allowed to be used to discriminate against anyone.

“So I don’t think there’s any record of that happening and that’s important to note as people say, ‘Well, this is all this is is discrimination.’ It’s not,” Long says.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to hear the bills this afternoon.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.
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