Religious Freedom Legal Defense Fund

Protect Religious Freedom

Please help IFI defend the 1st Amendment Rights of all Hoosiers.  The Religious Freedom Legal Defense Fund is a fund set up through the Indiana Family Institute designated towards legal and administrative costs associated with our lawsuit challenging the constiutionality of the so-called RFRA "fix".  100% of all donations to the Religious Freedom Legal Defense Fund will go towards legal and administrative costs associated with our lawsuit, Indiana Family Institute vs. Carmel, Indiana.  

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Background...

RFRA signing

On March 26, 2015, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into law.  Indiana's RFRA elevated the 1st Amendment Rights of all Hoosiers when government acts to violate those first freedoms.  

On April 2, 2015, Governor Pence signed SB 50 "The Fix" into law.  This law takes away RFRA protections from certain individuals, businesses and organizations if a discrimination claim is brought against them.

On October 5, 2015, The Carmel City Council passed Mayor Jim Brainard's ordinance giving the Carmel City Attorney the power to fine Carmel residents $500 per day if alegations of discrimination from gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals are brought against them.

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Indiana Family Institute v. City of Carmel, Indiana

Jim Bopp RFRA fix lawsuit.jpg

On December 10, 2015, The Indiana Family Institute, Indiana Family Action, and The American Family Association of Indiana filed a lawsuit challenging the Constitutionality of last spring’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) “fix” as well as the Carmel and Indianapolis-Marion County Nondiscrimination Ordinances.  The lawsuit claims in state court that the measure contradicts Indiana’s strong Constitutional protections, specifically equal protection for the religious-free-exercise of all persons. The suit was brought on behalf of plaintiffs by First Amendment Attorney James Bopp, Jr., The Bopp Law Firm, Terre Haute, Indiana.

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RFRA originally protected all religious viewpoints and insured a high level of protection for peoples' free exercise of religion.  The "fix," however, stripped that protection based on a person's particular religious view, such as, opposition to same-sex marriage.  This pits some religions that the government protects against other religions that will suffer government punishment if they don't fall in line.  We believe this discrimination between religious views is unconstitutional.  

IFI is bringing this public interest lawsuit challenging the so-called "fix," because the "fix" amended the protections RFRA gave people of faith against the government and in so-doing denies Hoosiers the right to use the RFRA defense in legal proceedings arising from real or perceived marketplace conflicts. The ‘fix’ makes people of faith second-class citizens.

This lawsuit also challenges Carmel’s Nondiscrimination Ordinance passed this past fall. The Carmel ordinance attempts to make some accommodations for religious-free-exercise, but does so vaguely and poorly.  It exempts from the nondiscrimination requirements “religious worship.”  “Religious worship” is not defined, so that it is vague and appears to only apply to church services, like a Catholic mass. So, it is unconstitutional because all religious exercise is constitutionally protected.

The Indianapolis-Marion County Ordinance is also challenged for similar reasons.  

Freedom is not a fixed, finite commodity which the Legislature reapportions from time to time between and among the now-favored groups. Freedom must be first preserved and then, as possible, expanded equally for all.  Equal protection under the law is a principle at the heart of our Constitution, which each public officeholder takes a solemn oath to uphold.  This freedom, especially freedom of religion, defines who we are and is at the heart of what we strive to pass on to the next generation. Freedom, Equal Protection and prosperity are inextricably intertwined.

IFI is please to be joined by Indiana Family Action and The American Family Association of Indiana in this challenge.  

The suit was filed in Hamilton County, where IFI is located.

The Complaint is available here.

For more information about the lawsuit read this exclusive article at IBJ.com. 

 

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