For Immediate Release
April 11, 2016

James A. Smith Sr.





NRB Urges Kasich to Study — Not ‘Chill Out’ — About Religious Liberty

WASHINGTON (NRB) – Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s “naïve or poorly informed” religious liberty comments in response to a question about North Carolina’s new law protecting women and girls in public restrooms is a matter of concern — not something to “chill out” about — says Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, president & CEO of National Religious Broadcasters.

On CBS’ “Face the Nation” yesterday, Kasich was asked if he would have signed the North Carolina law. The Ohio governor said, “I wouldn’t have signed that law from everything I know,” adding, “I haven’t studied it.”

Kasich said he believes religious institutions “ought to be protected and be able to be in a position of where they can – they can, you know, live out their--their deeply held religious purposes,” although the North Carolina law is not about religious liberty. Instead, the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act (HB 2) is aimed at ensuring individuals adhere to their legally recognized gender in the use of public restrooms and similar spaces. On his own, Kasich mentioned Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, apparently in reference to the recent religious liberty law vetoed by the governor, which the governor claimed was unnecessary.

Kasich also said, “But in our state, we’re not facing this. So everybody needs to take a deep breath, respect one another, and the minute we start trying to write laws, things become more polarized, they become more complicated.” Kasich added, “Everybody, chill out, get over it if you have a disagreement with somebody.”

“Clearly, rather than ‘chill out,’ Gov. Kasich needs to study the North Carolina law – as well as the recent Georgia bill,” said Johnson. “We commend North Carolina for protecting its citizens in public restrooms, which is a public safety matter, not a religious liberty issue. But I’m deeply concerned that Gov. Kasich appears to not understand very well critical religious liberty issues. He is either naïve or poorly informed. Indeed, this is not the first time the governor has spoken in a less-than clear way about religious liberty.”

In a Feb. 25 Republican presidential debate, Kasich rejected religious liberty claims of religiously motivated business owners who do not want to participate in gay wedding ceremonies, again drawing a distinction between religious institutions acting on their beliefs and religious business owners doing the same.

“I urge Gov. Kasich to give careful consideration to the real threats – indeed, violations – of religious liberty that are happening across our nation,” Johnson said, citing the cases of former Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran, florist Baronnelle Stutzman in Washington state, Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Oregon, and other examples. “These are not theoretical matters, but real-life cases where religious freedom is being violated. NRB is committed to protecting the First Amendment rights of all citizens. This means not only protecting free speech, but also protecting the freedom to believe – and live – in accordance with those deeply held religious beliefs.”

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