Indiana and Arkansas Religious Freedom Restoration Acts

Indiana and Arkansas Religious Freedom Restoration Acts

Updated Dec 17, 2015 at 07:11PM EST by Brad.

Added Apr 03, 2015 at 02:31PM EDT by Ari Spool.

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Indiana and Arkansas Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, also know as Indiana SB 101 and Arkansas SB 975, are two bills passed in March 2015 by the state legislatures of Arkansas and Indiana. The bills are controversial due to the fact that they allow businesses and individuals to assert that their religion is a defense in discrimination lawsuits, exempting them from federal non-discrimination laws.


The federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed in 1993[1]. This law was partly intended to protect the religious freedom of Native Americans, allowing them the ceremonial use of peyote and the ability to conduct ceremonial gatherings on land they considered sacred. However, in 2014, the Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision[2] recognized a corporation's right to religious belief, and shortly thereafter, several states introduced bills that would allow corporations to discriminate based on those beliefs. In Arizona, Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a bill in 2014, but in March 2015, the governors of Indiana and Arkansas ratified theirs.

Before Governor Mike Pence ratified SB 101 in Indiana, many online groups, including the National LGBTQ Task Force[3] were calling on him to veto it. When that didn't happen, their campaigns reoriented towards protest and boycott. The bill experienced widespread criticism from people as disparate as Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, Inc, and pop-singer Miley Cyrus. Arkansas passed a similar bill on April 2nd, 2015.

Notable Developments

The passing of Indiana's bill led to a large outcry online, with the creation of many comics, protest based image macros, and other internet-based conversation.

Boycotts of Indiana

Shortly after the bill was signed, businesses and individuals across America began to announce boycotts or cessation of business ties with the state of Indiana. Eight municipalities, including the state of New York and the city of San Francisco, banned non-essential travel to Indiana by state employees. Large non-profit Angie's List halted the expansion of a business campus and many other companies issued statements against state[4].

Memories Pizza

March 31st, 2015, the owners of Walkerton, Indiana pizzeria Memories Pizza told local TV station WBND that, based on their Christian beliefs, "If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide them pizzas for a wedding, we would have to say no."[5] Many national news publications, including TMZ[6], picked up the story as being the first instance of an Indiana business refusing to serve customers.

Soon thereafter, Memories Pizza's Yelp[7] page was flooded with over 300 reviews both for and against the decisions of the owners.

CJ J. San Diego, CA 4/3/2015 70 friends ★ 2 reviews I've been trying to call to order a pizza and can't get a hold of them. Share review Does anyone know the best way to burn a bible? compliment Send message Follow GJJ Was this review Useful 1 e Funny Cool
Greg M Campbell, CA 4/2/2015 They will serve anyone, they just won't cater for an occasion that goes against their beliefs. Nothing wrong with that. I'm sure they wouldn't cater to a Shira Law supporters party either. Private businesses have the right to refuse service for any reason, and if you don't like it, someone else will take your money. That's FREE enterprise. ★ 13 reviews → Share review Compliment Send message Follow Greg M. Was this review ...? Useful 21 (e) Funny 5 Cool 15

The pizzeria received many harassing phone calls, and a hoax was spread on Reddit[8] and Tumblr[9] with images claiming to be screenshots of their hacked web site, which purportedly sold a penis-shaped pizza. Sprint 3:57 PM 100%- Home of the dick pizza! Only $6.66l!! Forget everything you know about pizza... The Memories Pizza DICK-ZA is loaded with over 48" of hearty meat!

On April 1st, 2015, the pizzeria closed to avoid this harassment, and a GoFundMe[10] campaign was launched to raise money for the owners. As of April 3, 2015, the GoFundMe page has received over $600,000 in donations, much of them anonymous.

Dieseltec Auto Shop

On April 14th, 2015[13], Brian Klawiter, the owner of Dieseltec Auto Shop in Grandville, MI created a Facebook[14] post proclaiming, among other things, that guns were allowed in the shop and that gays would not be served.

Therefore, in the spirit of freedom (whats left of it) and MY right to operate MY business as I see fit:
Guns ARE allowed at DIESELTEC, so much so in fact that we will offer a discount if you bring in your gun. ("On duty" cops are excluded because thats not their gun, thats my gun bought with my money, off duty absolutely!)
I am a Christian. My company will be run in a way that reflects that. Dishonesty, thievery, immoral behavior, etc. will not be welcomed at MY place of business. (I would not hesitate to refuse service to an openly gay person or persons. Homosexuality is wrong, period. If you want to argue this fact with me then I will put your vehicle together with all bolts and no nuts and you can see how that works.)

Although Dieseltec is located in Michigan, users online still began to post on the business's Yelp page[15] in a similar fashion to Memories Pizza. Many users posted humorous reviews of the shop that insinuated that the work done on their vehicles was homosexual in nature.

Drew M. 4/16/2015 Saint Louis, MO Dieseltec did a GREAT job outfitting my rainbow glitter- paint convertible with the new penis-shaped exhaust pipes I wanted!! It's such a relief that there's finally a place that gays can go to get their cars fixed AND be told they're going to hell in a one-stop shop, usually you have to go to to separate places for that. Keep up the good work Dieseltec, god is surely smiling on your actions $0 friends 2 reviews Was this review Useful e Funny Cool Jason W. Sacramento, CA 4/16/2015 73 friends ★ 6 reviews I was denied service for wearing a blended cotton/polyester shirt. That's the right one from Leviticus right? Was this review...? Useful 7 e Funny Cool Dieseltec 来保墨墨宋58 reviews Auto Repair Write a Review Add a. Details | Oakes White St SW White St SW DIE SE Dr ago Crystal St Sw Map data C2015 Google Edit TEC 2875 Ottawa Ave SW Grandville, MI 49418 Get Directions S(616) 540-7886 Dieseltec Grandville, MI, United States by Zack L

As of April 17th, 2015, most of the postings had been removed by Yelp.

The Sentencing of Purvi Patel

On Monday, March 30th, 2015, Indiana woman Purvi Patel was sentenced to 20 years in prison for feticide, after having claimed to have a stillborn, premature baby and disposing of its body inappropriately[11]. The state of Indiana claimed that Patel had induced an abortion at home with drugs she bought online, though none of the drugs were found in her bloodstream at the time. Her sentencing, seen as harsh, especially after a trial filled with potential flaws, added to the outcry against the morality of the state of Indiana.

Changes to SB-101

On April 2nd, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana signed an amendment to SB 101 to include anti-discrimination safeguards. The changes included the nullifying of the clause that would allow businesses to refuse services to people based on religious belief, but it did not add protection for the state's LGBT community.[12]

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