Amid the political firestorm created by Indiana’s passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), Republican presidential contenders are lining up to defend the law, and Indiana’s embattled Governor Mike Pence, who signed it.
On Monday, presumed Republican front-runner Jeb Bush told conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt:
I think Governor Pence has done the right thing.
Dismissing criticisms of the law as unfounded he continued, by saying:
I think once the facts are established, people aren’t going to see this as discriminatory at all.
A spokesperson for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker didn’t comment directly on the Indiana law, but she pointed out that Walker supports “religious freedom” as a matter of principle.
In addition to Bush and Walker, a number of other Republican presidential competitors weighed in, all expressing support for allowing discrimination if it is based on deeply held religious beliefs. Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, Ben Carson and Ted Cruz all spoke out in favor of the Indiana law.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz issued a statement on Monday defending Pence and the Indiana law. Cruz stated:
I want to commend Governor Mike Pence for his support of religious freedom, especially in the face of fierce opposition. There was a time, not too long ago, when defending religious liberty enjoyed strong bipartisan support. Alas, today we are facing a concerted assault on the First Amendment, on the right of every American to seek out and worship God according to the dictates of his or her conscience,” the Texas Senator said.
Governor Pence is holding the line to protect religious liberty in the Hoosier State. Indiana is giving voice to millions of courageous conservatives across this country who are deeply concerned about the ongoing attacks upon our personal liberties. I’m proud to stand with Mike, and I urge Americans to do the same.
With each of the prominent Republican candidates throwing their weight behind religious-based bigotry, the GOP has shown just how out of touch with American values they have become. In the Republican presidential field, there is not one voice who will stand up and say faith-based discrimination is wrong.
The GOP field has no leaders. Instead, it is dominated by weak men who dutifully kowtow to the religious right because they are afraid to stand up to evangelical bigots for fear that it may cost them support in the Iowa Republican caucuses. Some of the Republican presidential candidates may be bigots themselves. The ones that are not are simply cowards. Either way, because the Republican presidential field has embraced the politics of faith-based discrimination, none of them are fit to govern the nation.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.