A pastor in Indiana says he opposes changes to the state’s new religious freedom that would clarify that religious businesses cannot deny services to same-sex couples.
Facing a national backlash after signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law, Republican Gov. Mike Pence on Tuesday called on state lawmakers “to make it clear that this law does not give businesses the right to deny services to anyone.”
But Rev. Ron Johnson, senior pastor of Living Stones Church in Crown Point, told WBEZ that amending the law “would make the bill null and void… because it’s not going to protect religious liberty.”
“Nobody is saying that if you come into get a hamburger you say, ‘Hey, are you a homosexual? I’m not going to serve you a hamburger.’ That is not even the issue,” Johnson said. “The issue has been specifically related to forcing someone to celebrate a same-sex wedding ceremony that they believe violates their religious beliefs. That’s where the rub has come.”
Even before the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed into law, Indiana state law did not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. But critics warned the religious freedom law would undermine local anti-discrimination ordinances that protect LGBT people in cities like Indianapolis.
Johnson said those critics were forcing Christians to celebrate a behavior they found sinful and immoral.
“We’re talking about the Left and the gay lobby forcing us not to tolerate their behavior but to celebrate their behavior and that’s fundamentally wrong,” Johnson told WBEZ. “Whatever group is pushing for their right to express themselves sexually however they want to do it, if you don’t jump on the bandwagon and support that then you’re a bigot, or you’re a hater.”
“This is a witch hunt if I ever saw one. Frankly, I think it’s an insult to Hoosiers. It’s an insult to our great governor who is an incredibly good man,” he added.