Apple CEO Tim Cook isn’t happy with Indiana’s new bill to restore religious freedom. He explains why in an op-ed for the Washington Post:
There’s something very dangerous happening in states across the country.
A wave of legislation, introduced in more than two dozen states, would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors. Some, such as the bill enacted in Indiana last week that drew a national outcry and one passed in Arkansas, say individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law.
There’s certainly an argument to be made for the view that discriminatory practices towards gays are morally unacceptable. I believe, for instance, that people should be able to live the life they want to live, whether others think it wrong or not. As long as they aren’t hurting anyone else, leave them alone. If gays, therefore, want to marry or live together: have fun.
However, that isn’t the real subject here. In its very essence, this is about religious freedom: the very foundation of liberty in general. You can’t pretend to be a free society and take the freedom of religion away at the same time. It’s either/or: either you allow people to live according to their religious views, or you establish a know-it-all, oppressive government. There’s nothing in between.
So Cook is wrong. We shouldn’t sacrifice the freedom of religion in order to shove “tolerance” down people’s throats (it isn’t even possible to force people to be tolerant, but that’s neither here nor there). If we do, we end up living in a society that’s considerably less free and eventually even less tolerant than the one we currently have. Cook’s probably fine with that, but rational human beings are not.
Luckily, federal law already agrees with that. Indiana’s so-called “controversial law” is based on SCOTUS’ Hobby Lobby decision in which the Supreme Court ruled that religious employers can choose not to provide certain services if they are in breach (a “substantial burden”) with their religious views. Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act builds on that decision; it’s not a new law, but an affirmation of SCOTUS’ ruling.