Rev. Franklin Graham has spoken out in support of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence's decision to sign the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law, but some conservatives, such as Dr. Robert Jeffress, are now concerned that Pence may be "capitulating" to the opposition.
After initially signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law on March 26, Pence immediately faced backlash from gay rights supporters. State leaders and businesses vowed to boycott the state of Indiana, accusing the state of anti-gay discrimination. Early Monday morning, Republican leaders in the Indiana General Assembly held a press conference to address the concerns and criticism. They ruled out a repeal of the law but said they would issue clarification to help others understand the law better.
Graham issued a statement of support for Pence on Monday, stating that Pence was "taking a lot of heat for doing the right thing. He is being attacked by the LGBT community, liberal politicians, and liberal media who don't want Christians' freedoms to be protected. Thank God for politicians like Governor Pence who are not afraid to take a stand regardless of the political consequences. We need more men like him in public office across this country and in Washington who are willing to stand for right over wrong."
However, since Pence's Tuesday press conference stating that he would seek clarification from lawmakers, as well as a follow-up measure by the end of the week, religious leaders have voiced their dissatisfaction at his action.
"Should a Muslim who owns a t-shirt company be forced to serve a customer who asked for a t-shirt that defames the prophet Muhammad, or does that Muslim have the right to refuse service—to discriminate—against that customer because of his religious convictions?" Jeffress asked on Fox News' "Hannity" Tuesday night. "If you say that Muslim has the right to say no, then why shouldn't that Christian baker or florist be able to say no?"
Pence explained in his press conference that he wanted clarification to make it explicit that "this law does not give businesses a right to deny services to anyone.
"This issue for me is first about religious liberty," he said on Fox News. "Indiana is open for business. If we have to make adjustments to this law to make it clear that this law was never intended to give businesses the right to turn away customers on the basis of sexual orientation, we will fix that."
That answer did not satisfy Jeffress, who said that he was "grateful for Gov. Pence standing up for religious liberty, but if he cannot offer protection for that florist he was asked about in today's press conference who refuses to participate in a gay ceremony, this is not a clarification of the bill he's making, this is a capitulation to the far left and this religious freedom law won't be worth the paper it's written on."
"It's time to stand up for the first amendment rights of all Americans to exercise their faith — not just in their homes, not just in their churches or synagogues — but in every part of their lives, including their work," Jeffress added.