MATTHEW VANTRYON | MANAGING EDITOR
Butler University President James Danko sent a public statement via email Sunday to members of the Butler community regarding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed into law by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence last week.
“While I have read a variety of opinions and rationale for RFRA, it strikes me as ill-conceived legislation at best, and I fear that some of those who advanced it have allowed their personal or political agendas to supersede the best interests of the State of Indiana and its people,” Danko wrote in the statement. “No matter your opinion of the law, it is hard to argue with the fact it has done significant damage to our state.”
Indiana is one of 20 states to adopt the RFRA. Senate Bill 101 “prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless the governmental entity can demonstrate that the burden: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest.”
Danko reaffirmed the university’s commitment to diversity.
“Like countless other Hoosier institutions, organizations, and businesses, Butler University reaffirms our longstanding commitment to reject discrimination and create an environment that is open to everyone,” he wrote. “Today, more than ever, it is important that we continue to build, cultivate, and defend a culture in which all members of our community—students, alumni, faculty, staff, and the public—can learn, work, engage, and thrive. It is our sincere hope that those around the country with their ears turned toward our Hoosier state hear just one thing loud and clear—the united voice of millions who support inclusion and abhor discrimination.”
He closed the statement by urging legislators to consider the implications of their actions.
“I strongly encourage our state leaders to take immediate action to address the damage done by this legislation and to reaffirm the fact that Indiana is a place that welcomes, supports, respects, and values all people.”