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Disciples of Christ Eye Convention Pullout to Protest Indiana Religious Liberty Law

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people. Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce." -- IRD President Mark Tooley

Contact: Jeff Walton, Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639 cell, jwalton@TheIRD.org

WASHINGTON, March 27, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination, based in Indianapolis, announced its governing convention may not meet in Indiana's capital city after the state approved its own version of the longstanding federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

The Indianapolis Star describes the law as prohibiting "state or local governments from substantially burdening a person's ability to exercise their religion — unless the government can show that it has a compelling interest and that the action is the least-restrictive means of achieving it."

Other states have similar laws offering protection for religious minorities, the federal version passed over 20 years ago almost unanimously in Congress, signed into law by President Clinton.

The Disciples of Christ letter noted that 6000 are expected at its 2017 convention, representing over one percent of the total national membership of the denomination. The Disciples have lost about 70 percent of their membership, a higher percentage than any other Mainline denomination.

IRD President Mark Tooley commented:

    "Protecting religious minorities has become hyper politically incorrect. Under the new zeitgeist of cultural and political demands, elderly inn owners must host polyamorous rites, nuns must subsidize condoms, and church groups should finance abortions. Otherwise, they are guilty of 'discrimination,' which has become the unforgivable sin, unless the targets of discrimination are religious traditionalists, who merit no rights.

    "Why would even a hyper liberal denomination oppose religious freedom and free speech, labeling it 'hatred' and 'bigotry?'

    "Originally RFRA laws were intended to protected small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life. It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave, always more provocative than the previous, and always accompanied by a shrill chorus angrily berating any dissent.

    "Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people. Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state’s power to coerce."