Chaput Says Indiana Law Not Discrimination

Says "acrimony and lies" surround the debate.

Archbishop Charles Chaput. Photo | Jeff Fusco

Archbishop Charles Chaput. Photo | Jeff Fusco

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput has joined a high-profile effort to defend a new Indiana “religious freedom” law that many observers say allows business owners to discriminate against gays, signing a statement decrying “acrimony and lies” surrounding the issue.

The statement, “Now Is the Time to Talk About Religious Liberty,” was composed along with Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore. They were joined by Robert P. George, a Princeton law professor who has headed the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; and Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

The statement:

For many religious believers, Passover and the Easter season are cornerstones of the year. Thus our hearts have been especially troubled in recent days by the acrimony and lies surrounding legal efforts, in Indiana and elsewhere, at ensuring religious liberty for people of all faiths.

As Americans commemorate their respective holy days, we urge all our fellow citizens to remember the moral roots of their constitutional system, and to engage in a sensible national conversation about religious liberty. Even those who are not religious have a stake in seeing that our “first freedom”—religious freedom; freedom of conscience—is protected in law.

In recent days we have heard claims that a belief central to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—that we are created male and female, and that marriage unites these two basic expressions of humanity in a unique covenant—amounts to a form of bigotry. Such arguments only increase public confusion on a vitally important issue. When basic moral convictions and historic religious wisdom rooted in experience are deemed “discrimination,” our ability to achieve civic harmony, or even to reason clearly, is impossible.

America was founded on the idea that religious liberty matters because religious belief matters in a uniquely life-giving and powerful way. We need to take that birthright seriously, or we become a people alien to our own founding principles. Religious liberty is precisely what allows a pluralistic society to live together in peace.

The statement was signed Friday and made public over the weekend.