Disciples of Christ to Move 2017 Convention From Indiana Due to New Freedom to Discriminate Law

by FaithGardner –

disciples of christ logo

Another organization has come out against Indiana’s new “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”Disciples of Christ, (AKA “First Christian Church”) is a large mainline Protestant denomination with over 650,000 members. Their organizers have stated that they’re now moving the site of their 2017 convention, which was to take place in Indianapolis, due to the new “freedom to discriminate” law:

Church leaders say have agreed to move their 6,000-person General Assembly because of concerns that some members “might experience legally sanctioned bias and rejection once so common on the basis of race.” The move reflects a larger push in the state and across the nation to use business to pressure state leaders on the issue.

Disciples of Christ pressed Gov. Mike Pence to veto the legislation last week and made it known they were considering moving the 2017 convention. They’ve now made good on their word. General Minister and President Sharon E. Watkins posted a letter to the governor on the Disciples of Christ website Tuesday concerning the decision:

Sharon E. Watkins

The decision was in response to the recent signing into law of SEA 101, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Originally intended to be about religious freedom, its functioning in Indiana could be just the opposite. Because there are not state protections against discrimination for all people, and because the Indiana RFRA declares religious freedom for businesses and corporations as well as for individuals and churches, SEA 101 could be used by some to build barriers and exclude. Our nation is strong when we welcome people of diverse backgrounds and points of view. The free and robust exchange of ideas is part of what makes our democracy – and our church – great.As Disciples, we are particularly sensitive to the values of the One we follow – one who sat at table with people from all walks of life, and loved them all. Our church is diverse in point of view, but we share a value for an open Lord’s Table. Our members and assembly-goers are of different races and ethnicities, ages, genders and sexual orientations. They have in common that they love Jesus and seek to follow him.

We are particularly distressed at the thought that, under the current version of SEA 101, some of our members and friends might not be welcome in some Indiana businesses – might experience legally sanctioned bias and rejection once so common on the basis of race.

Religious freedom is also one of the cherished tenets of our Disciples tradition. The freedom of one goes too far, however, when that one’s freedom threatens to exclude or inhibits the freedoms of others.

No word on where the 2017 convention will be held.

Bravo to Disciples of Christ for their decision!


Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos