Indiana Wesleyan measure stirs religion debate

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A measure designed to restore Indiana Wesleyan University's workforce training contract with the state unexpectedly raised debate about religious discrimination Monday in the General Assembly.

Republican State Rep. Eric Turner proposed amending Indiana's civil rights law to allow religious institutions doing business with the state to employ people based in part on their religious affiliation.

Turner filed the measure shortly after the state rejected a longstanding workforce training contract with Wesleyan. A lawyer with the attorney general's office determined language in the contract allowing the Christian university to hire in part based on religion violated state law.

The measure appeared headed for a full debate in the House on Monday afternoon, but House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, quickly pulled it from consideration, not long after outrage over the issue erupted on Twitter.

"There were concerns that it had complications beyond the Indiana Wesleyan contracting," Bosma said.

Neil Rush, Indiana Wesleyan's director of risk management, said the proposal would put the state in line with federal contracting guidelines, which allow for faith-based organizations to win federal contracts.

"It's just like a church. If you don't have a right to hire with a faith commensurate to (yours), sooner or later it's not going to look like much of a church," Rush said. "We're trying to maintain the same thing with our Christian university."

Rush said the university has been contracting with the state since 2006 to provide education and retraining for workers who lose their jobs when companies move operations overseas. But he said the university only recently ran into problems when a lawyer with the attorney general's office raised concerns about the university's ability to exclude employees based on religion.

Ken Falk, chief legal counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, said Turner's proposal raises obvious concerns about whether the government is supporting religious discrimination.

"The question is, what does it mean to amend Indiana law to, in essence, allow discrimination on the grounds of religion?" Falk said. "Whereas that might make sense if you're talking about someone who has religious duties or even tangential religious duties, if, in fact, this law goes even further than that you have to wonder, why are we narrowing people's rights?"

The measure will be considered again when the House Ways and Means Committee meets Tuesday morning. House Republican spokesman Nicholas Goodwin said Turner would address the proposal then.


  • As an employee of IWU...
    I can tell you that it's not just discrimination between Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc. It's also discrimination with those who do not follow the Wesleyan denomination. In order to have the word "Wesleyan" in their name and be considered a Wesleyan college, they have to have a certain % of employees that also observe that denomination. So, beyond people of other faiths, they discriminate against other Christians as well. On the other hand, all the classes in the adult education programs have a Biblical study/devotional component (even the math classes), so I'm sure that those who are going to the school to get a Christian college experience would be upset if someone who didn't share a Christian faith would be leading the class.
  • Discrimination?
    I applaud Rep Turner's UNBIASED views of allowing Indiana Weslyan to continue to provide these services. From the quote from Mr. Faulk of the ACLU, it appears that the only discrimination in this case is AGAINST an organization that has any Religious conviction. As I read the constitution and the Bill of Rights, our founding fathers were intentionally establishing 'fredom OF relegion' not 'Freedom FROM religion' as the ACLU would want us to believe. The very act of prohibiting 'Faith based' organizations from participating in our federal or any other economy is what should be repulsive to all Americans who believe in our costly and hard earned feedoms. Take another look.
  • Turner Lacks Understaniding of Basic Rights
    After observing the proposals Eric Turner makes, you have to wonder if he understands the basic provisions of the US Constitution and its Bill of Rights. Turner appears to me to be a religious zealot.
  • Rendering unto Caesar?
    When you take government money the government gets to stick its nose into how you do business. I don't think Indiana Wesleyan or any other university, even if religiously based, should be able to discriminate in hiring. You want a math professor? Hire the best one you can find and afford. There is no such thing as Christian math, Jewish math or Islamic math, and if you think there is you may be Eric Turner.
  • Like a church?
    If you church has to contract with the state, it's not much of a church. Simple as that. If that money is paying for it, there should be absolutely no religious discrimination

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Good Day I am Mr (Victoria Wright) from United state of America, i stayed in NEW YORK, and i have a broke up business, until i found this company email who help me to gain a loan for business,, and now i want to used this short medium to congratulate the below company for the fast and safe money they loan to me without any form of collateral, i loan 500,000USD from the company to save my business and lots more, i saw their mail on the internet, everyone always give testimony for what they did, so i quickly contacted them and they all did everything for me without stress and my money was sent to my account just 3 days later, i was surprise and i feel so glad, now i have a standard business control agent who help me, now i will advice those who need urgent loan to contact him at the bellow email:zenithfirm12@gmail.com

  2. NOTICE:This is to inform the general public that Vampires are real. My name is James Franklyn.,am an agent of vampire,am here to introduce our new world trend to you,a world of vampire where life get easier,we have made so many persons vampires and have turned them rich,you will be assured long life and prosperity,you shall be made to be very sensitive to mental alertness,stronger and also very fast,you will not be restricted to walking at night only even at the very middle of broad day light you will be made to walk.In case you are wildly oppressed by some unscrupulous persons we can still help you fight them.Your protection is assured immediately you join.Just contact the bellow email if you are interested we are here to attend to you anytime you want us. Contact the bellow email for more details. Email:vampirescreed@hotmail.com Sincerely: James Franklyn.

  3. Bravo! Someone else that is willing to speak the truth! Bravo!_____NBCSN is available in almost 2 MILLION more homes than just a few years ago, but Indycar STILL gets less total viewers than it did just a few years ago when NBC took over Versus. Attendance and ratings cratered with the end of season races (just when the title battle got "interesting" HAH!__________And now...new race in Basilia, where Miles celebrated the "rich history" of Indycar racing there. Rich history? What, 7 events in the 100 years of AOW? Yep, some history. Well, at least its an oval. It's not??? Are you kidding me??? Gosh darn road racin furriners.

  4. PURITY RAY LOAN OFFER........ Have you been denied by your banks,or are you in need of of an urgent loan to pay of your bills we are capable of giving loans @ cheaper rate to interested individuals, student, companies and members of the public in need of finance to settle bills, we do offer considerable loans which you can count on. For more information on our various types of loan,then you will have to contact PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM, to help you achieve your desire LOAN APPLICATION FORM TO BE FILLED BORROWERS INFORMATION * Full name:………………………. * SEX * ……………………………. * Country………………………….. * State:……………………………. * Land:…………………………….. * Occupation:…………………….. * phone number:…………………. * Telephone: ………………………….. * Age:………………………………. * Amount needed as loan:……… * Loan Duration:………………….. * Propose of Loan:……………….. * Annual revenue:………………… * Monthly Income:……………….. * Guarantee:………………………. * Payment: monthly or annually Email.....purityrayloanfirm@gmail.com Thank you and God bless Mr Purity Ray PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM we tend to serve you better

  5. Problem: most of the people responding to this article don't know about this service AT ALL! Why? Lack of awareness. This isn't IndyGo. This is CIRTA: might as well be the mattress company because they are asleep at the wheel - something like 3 directors over the last year? Playing with federal grant money is great! This "region" wants commuter rail service, has spent MILLIONS on Transportation studies yet can't even support a commuter bus line? This is largely for suburban riders to get to downtown - not for "service people to work in our hotels and restaurants" ! Get your head out of your backside!! These are professionals, students etc. that don't want to fight traffic, save some money on parking, gas, stress.... if CIRTA would put their federal money into widely promoting the sevive to Greenwood, Fishers & Carmel instead of finding directors and studies - this would be a successful service. Our family uses(d) it daily for the last several years - but the recent uncertainty & now unreliability due to cuts from Carmel has been a problem. Now, costs us an additional $350/month for gas & parking ( $4200/year) plus vehicle wear, service, environmental impact ... YES - this REGION needs this this type of service in order to keep growing and getting the people it needs to fill skilled positions in downtown Indianapolis. Think outside of your own car !!!