Photo by Chase Jarvis.
'This law is intended to protect and promote sexual discrimination,' says Alexie. Photo by Chase Jarvis.

Sherman Alexie Cancels Speaking Engagements in Indiana Over 'Religious Freedom' Law


Author Sherman Alexie has canceled two appearances in the state of Indiana, joining a rising tide of groups and individuals who are boycotting the state to protest the Religious Freedom Restoration Act law that was signed into law by Governor Mike Pence last week.

The events were to take place at the University of Notre Dame, in South Bend, at the end of April, and at the Kurt Vonnegut Library in Indianapolis in September. Alexie tells The Stranger that he "won't be doing any gigs in Indiana until they repeal the hate law they just passed."

"This law is designed to protect not the free exercise of religion (which is already protected) but the free exercise of hatred by a certain subset of Christian," Alexie continued. "This law is intended to protect and promote sexual discrimination by those Christians. And this is also the kind of law designed to set precedents for more aggressive forms of discrimination."

Pence has been in damage-control mode ever since signing the bill, countering that the bill is based on a Federal law signed by President Clinton in 1993. White House spokesman Josh Earnest disputed this characterization today. Also today, Pence called on Indiana lawmakers to pass legislation that would clarify the law cannot be used to deny services to people or groups.

As if to prove Alexie's point about Indiana's law "set[ting] precedents," the Arkansas state legislature today approved its version of the "religious freedom" bill. It will be up to Governor Asa Hutchinson to decide whether the measure should become state law.

"We must make it clear to those states that these hate laws are unacceptable and immoral bullshit," Alexie told The Stranger. "And the liberals and conservative allies in those states must take immediate and direct action toward preventing the passage of these hate laws."

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bullbear's picture
Submitted by bullbear on
The damage is done brothers and sisters to the Hoosier state. A quick glimpse and you will see that the dominos are quickly falling hour by hour. Corporations are pulling the plug on any consideration for establishing an operation within the state of Indiana thereby eliminating plans for thousands of jobs. Although Purdue and Indiana universities are opposed to this governmental measure, they already see the forthcoming loss of students who may have considered enrolling there. At the moment, there is no end in sight to what the tremendous slippery slope will bring that Indiana legislators and Governor have created. Cities and states are placing a ban on travel to Indiana, ESPN is asking the NFL and NCAA to refrain from holding any future events there and mega-corporations such as Apple and Yelp are envisioning employees of that state becoming victims by losing potentially millions of dollars in business. You might want to look at your state's legislature and see what the cards hold. The pendulum to a better economy has not even squeaked upward in the minutest. We should not wonder why when knuckleheads are allowed to run amuck and create laws using the end that they sit on as brains.

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
You can't get religious fundaMENTALists to listen to reason. You can't get them to listen to logic. You can't get them to listen to emotional appeals. You can't expect them to "do the right thing." You can ALWAYS count of them to listen to the sound of money . . . whether it's being put in their pockets or taken out of them.

stevef's picture
Submitted by stevef on
I have not read the entire law, but do agree that there must be some protections put into place to protect the religious rights. I am a bit surprised that natives would be so quick to jump on this bandwaggon, since we too pound our fist on the table for religious rights. So, an example is, I was just reading the other day that an abortion clinic was trying to 'change their image' and was thinking of adding a spa into the Clinic. Lets say I had a business that did facials and they called me up to ask me to come to their mini Auchwiz murder clinic to do facials, and I refused on religious grounds and they can then sue me for discrimination? So, that begs the question, where is the line?