Tags: Religion | indiana | religious freedom | gays | tim cook | Marc Benioff

Apple CEO Tim Cook: Indiana's Religious Freedom Law Is 'Injustice'

Apple CEO Tim Cook: Indiana's Religious Freedom Law Is 'Injustice'
Apple CEO Tim Cook. (Julie Bennett/AL.com/Landov)

By    |   Monday, 30 March 2015 10:10 AM

Apple CEO Tim Cook has decried a "wave of legislation" like the religious discrimination bill recently signed into law in Indiana, calling them attempts to "rationalize injustice by pretending to defend" the "very principles" upon which the country was founded.

"We strive to do business in a way that is just and fair. That’s why, on behalf of Apple, I’m standing up to oppose this new wave of legislation — wherever it emerges," Cook wrote in a Washington Post op-ed on Sunday.

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"I’m writing in the hopes that many more will join this movement," he said. "From North Carolina to Nevada, these bills under consideration truly will hurt jobs, growth and the economic vibrancy of parts of the country where a 21st-century economy was once welcomed with open arms."

On Thursday, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which is based on federal legislation passed by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton. The federal law states that actions by state or local governments may not "substantially burden a person's right to the exercise of religion" unless those actions can be shown as "essential" to a compelling government interest.

However, top tech industry leaders like Cook and Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff say the law unfairly discriminates against same-sex couples. As head of Salesforce.com, a purveyor of corporate software and services, Benioff used Twitter to slam the Indiana bill, saying his company would "dramatically reduce" its investments in the Hoosier State.

Indiana, which is home to a Salesforce subsidiary that employs as many as 3,000 people, is also facing backlash from Adrian Swartout, the CEO of the Gen Con gamers’ convention, who said the legislation could impact whether the group decides to hold its convention in Indianapolis beyond 2020, according to KCBS.

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Others outside of the tech industry also are reconsidering plans on hosting future events in Indiana, including the head of the NCAA.

In a statement issued on March 26, NCAA President Mark Emmert expressed concern about the impact of the law on its employees.

"The NCAA national office and our members are deeply committed to providing an inclusive environment for all our events. We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees. We will work diligently to assure student-athletes competing in, and visitors attending, next week’s men’s Final Four in Indianapolis are not impacted negatively by this bill.

"Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce," he wrote.

The mayors of both Seattle and San Francisco have announced plans to boycott Indiana, according to the Indianapolis Star.

With the controversy spreading, the Star reported over the weekend that Pence and lawmakers may clarify the legislation.

"I support religious liberty, and I support this law. But we are in discussions with legislative leaders this weekend to see if there’s a way to clarify the intent of the law," Pence said.

In his op-ed, Cook called on Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson not to follow Indiana's lead by rejecting a similar law which passed that state's Senate last week.

Cook was joined by one of the nation's largest businesses, Walmart, which has its home office in Arkansas, in decrying the religious discrimination bill.

"We feel this legislation is counter to this core basic belief of respect for the individual and sends the wrong message about Arkansas, as well as the diverse environment which exists in the state," a Walmart spokesman said in a statement to The Huffington Post.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook has decried a "wave of legislation" like the religious discrimination bill recently signed into law in Indiana, calling such laws an attempt to "rationalize injustice."
indiana, religious freedom, gays, tim cook, Marc Benioff
Monday, 30 March 2015 10:10 AM
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