Apple CEO Tim Cook Slams Republicans’ Religious Freedom Laws


Apple Tim Cook

This column often cites an ‘unwritten’ American statute that forbids anyone, from politicians to pundits, from speaking out against Christian extremism that serves as the impetus for all manner of Republican legislation. It does not matter whether it is transferring public school funding to private religious schools, restricting women’s right to choose their own reproductive health, or banning gays from marrying the person they love, it is a sin to cite those unconstitutional acts are borne of legislating by religion. Now, a powerful CEO of a giant corporation took the time to say what few others have; “There is something very dangerous happening in states across the country” of people using religion as a legislative weapon.

In a rare Washington Post op/ed, Apple CEO Tim Cook battered the “wave of legislation introduced in more than two dozen states allowing people to discriminate” based on religion. In the op/ed, Cook related that personally he has “great reverence for religious freedom” and that he was baptized in a Baptist church and holds faith as an important part of his life. He also stated something that may be a divine revelation to the neo-Christian community in America; he learned and believes religion should never be used as an excuse to discriminate against other people or to resist laws. Cook reminded readers that there are “nearly 100 bills” specifically designed to ‘enshrine‘ discrimination in state laws across the nation that go against the principles the nation was founded on; all by rationalizing the gross injustice by “pretending to defend religion.”


After referring to the obscene Indiana law Mike Pence said has nothing to do with discrimination, Cook cited the Texas legislation that strips salaries and pensions from any clerk that dares issue a marriage license to same-sex couples even before the Supreme Court rules on same-sex marriage bans. As he said, “these are very dangerous laws that are not only contrary to the nation’s principles of equal rights for all citizens; they pose a very serious danger to the economy.” Cook said the business community has understood for decades that discrimination, no matter what form it takes, is just bad for business and called on others to oppose the new wave of very dangerous legislation that “will truly hurt jobs, growth, and economic vibrancy in parts of the country where a 21st-century economy was once welcomed with open arms.” Of course that was prior to the Vatican-5 ruling that religious freedom trumps everything; no matter the extent of the damage to the nation’s economy or how badly it violates the Constitution or civil and equal rights laws.

It may be that there are too many Americans who are blind to discrimination, or too young to remember what it looks like, but these barbaric laws like Indiana’s, and those under consideration in 23 other states, are vile on a human level; sod religious freedom. This country has made significant progress with religious freedom over the decades regardless it was winning equality for people of color, women, or the gay community. But now Christian Dominionists have been empowered by the Supreme Court to take America back to Puritanism, and it is noteworthy that Puritanism not only harshly enforced its strict religious principles, it defended slavery; the ultimate expression of discrimination.

Cook recalled what it was like growing up in the South in the 1960s and 70s and noted that discrimination then was also “shrouded in laws meant to protect us” which is exactly how Mike Pence defended Indiana’s religious law.  It is a sad commentary that these religious laws are the vehicle that will take the nation back to the days of blatant segregation and discrimination “marked by Whites Only” signs on store fronts, water fountains, and restrooms that Cook said “must remain deep in our past.” That was before Republicans in Indiana said their ‘religious’ law would allow businesses to post “No Gays Allowed” signs in the Hoosier state; something Cook said we must never return to in order to preserve America as a land of opportunity for everyone.

Republicans love touting the sacrifice of Americans’ who died fighting to protect this country’s founding principles of freedom and equality, and it is prescient that Cook used one of their favorite talking points to slam abominable license to discriminate laws disguised as defending religion. He said that since hundreds-of-thousands of American men and women fought and died to protect freedom and equality, “we owe it to them, to each other and to our future to continue to fight with our words and our actions to protect those ideals.”

Cook was spot on with his analysis of the very dangerous religious laws threatening Americans, and he was also right that the base issue is “how we treat each other as human beings;” of that there is little dispute.  However, he is wrong that “this isn’t a political issue and it isn’t a religious issue;” it is both and perhaps he knows it. It is a religious issue that Republican politicians are imposing on Americans for Christian fundamentalists who have sought to gain power and dominance over every aspect of society for over thirty years. It may even be true that not all Republicans actually embrace religious extremism, but they are as petrified of opposing Christian fanatics as they are the Koch brothers. If Republicans were not busy passing religious laws, there would be no legalized discrimination in Indiana today or laws stripping women’s right to control their own reproductive health.

Cook ended his article saying that “fighting discrimination takes courage and that with the lives and dignity of so many people at stake, it’s time for all of us to be courageous.” He is right, of course, but at this juncture it appears that there is little the American people can do; it is up to those who can exert devastating economic pain on religious Republican states and the evangelical voters who elected them. Particularly since the highest court in the land empowered the fanatical Christians with the supremacy they have yearned for and Republicans execute faithfully. Whether one likes Tim Cook, or Apple products for that matter, the man did more than assail the discriminatory Indiana law; he openly criticized its basis in religion.

21 Replies to “Apple CEO Tim Cook Slams Republicans’ Religious Freedom Laws”

  1. This law is NOT about anything but oppression. It should be called the Religious Freedom to Oppress Act. If it was about oppressing chipmunks there would have been disgruntled Home Gardeners standing behind Heir Pence.

  2. When I read the law and realized it was open ended to descriminate against anyone their hard right religion didn’t like, knew it was way different. These people proclaim to be Christian but are the most hateful people I know if you don’t think like them. They are scary and frankly want to take over the Country. I see it in OK — saw it in IN as a kid at a family reunion of my Grandma’s family when a farmer across the road from their church got in a car in his driveway wearing a white rob carrying his hat — we playing softball and almost got hit in the head as I just stood there watching in shock as I was seeing what I saw on the news in Ohio — KKK in rural IN. Some idiot yelled out the window some nasty words as we stood there watching. Reunion moved to near Indy after that. It is not Christian to hate others because they don’t think like you or have your hard right agenda. It is sick!

  3. Welcome to Fascist America, and this is only the beginning.

    When the time has come that our elected law makers feel they must rush to aid Israel, over the American citizens then we are Doomed.

    We are NOT A THEOCRACY. If you think we should be, than look carefully at countries, around the world, that are run by radical religions.

  4. If you wish to read the portion of this law pertaining to Indiana’s RFRA you can find it here;

    Section 4 defines the word “person”. This law covers EVERYBODY, private individuals and ANY business.

    I an currently watching Pnce defend this abomination on MSNBC. He has stated that this section of the law was based on the SCOTUS decision of Hobby Lobby, which allowed a “closely” held businesses to determine what birth control their female employees could use.

    Read it for yourselves.

  5. Gov Pence keeps putting the onus on everyone else for ‘grossly misunderstanding, for the sloppy reporting of & for the smearing of Indiana’s reputation because they dare speak out against Indiana’s blatant new discrimination law. There is no public misperception, this is a hateful law specifically designed to discriminate by tying it to the religious freedom of a few.

    Since Obama was elected president the GOP’s ugliness has come out in full force with the passing of bills & laws like this that are completely out of touch with the social norms of today.

  6. “Our message, to people around the country and around the world, is this: Apple is open. Open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love. Regardless of what the law might allow in Indiana or Arkansas, we will never tolerate discrimination…..except if we can make a huge profit then by all means we will sell in countries that literally behead gays.”

    Such courage

  7. This is NOT just about the Lunch Counter folks. This law extends to employment and lodging.

    The 1964 Civil rights law does not extend to LGBT persons so any state that has not recognized LGBT as a protected class can and WILL allow discrimination under the guise of religious freedom.

    In your postings today remind the masses that the Indiana hate law goes far beyond the lunch counter.

  8. Corporations need to follow leaders like Angie’s List and Apple. The pressure has to build on Pence and his cohorts. Maybe the other states thinking of similar bills will reconsider once they see Indiana is no longer open for business.

  9. I worry about the religiously motivated business owner who isn’t aware that a customer is gay. To protect them and their religious freedom, shouldn’t Indiana require all gays to wear a rainbow colored arm band or patch on their lapel so they don’t get served by mistake by a gawd-fearin’ real-‘merican?

  10. Yet you stand with Hobby Lobby, who gets 96% of the product they sell from China, who had the worst abortion rules and child abusing Country there is.

  11. erica, you really are adorable when you try to make sense, like a new born kitten working out a problem in quantum physics.

  12. Last year they railed against Sharia law. This year they pass Sharia law. These morons will do ANYTHING in the ballot box that they’re told to do in their tax exempt corporations churches.

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