An open letter to Governor Pence

I was born in Chicago Illinois. I lived in Skokie and Libertyville until I was five years old. At that point my life changed forever. My parents and my little sister and I moved to Bloomington Indiana.

First of all Governor Pence, the Indiana you are presenting to the world is not the Indiana I grew up in. Bloomington I realize at times is an aberration but it is still part of Indiana.

The Indiana I grew up in was proud of the fact that it was the boyhood home of Abraham Lincoln. That at one time Indiana was the far West of America. That the exploration of what was to be the West later was launched in Indiana. That George Rogers Clark, a man who died penniless gave his own money because he believed in freedom. A place that welcomed students from around the world. With different religions and beliefs.

I am saddened as a former resident by the events unfolding related to this new religious freedom law. It makes me sad because it allows people to not accept and move on. Not just people that are different but anyone who doesn’t believe what you as a store owner believes.

You see the Indiana I know was also the home of Jim Jones. A man who used religious freedom to in the end well we all know that story and we all pretend he didn’t come from Indiana. My Indiana was also the home of Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom. In the end an American hero who never forgot he was a Hoosier.

The fact is everyone deserves religious freedom. But Governor Pence that is a two way street. You see everyone deserves that freedom which should separate the church and your personal ethics from the broader state application of laws.

Our countries founding fathers struggled for many years (10) after the declaration of Independence to develop and ultimately deploy a union based on common law and practice. Certainly our founding fathers weren’t the best at what equality really meant. They founded this country on a few secrets that in the end were bad. But some of our founding fathers were willing to die for something ideal.

Let us for a moment remember the ideals of our revolution. That taxation without representation was wrong. That all men were created equal. Yes that original statement should have been amended to say all people were created equal. All people were endowed with certain inalienable rights.

In the end from our revolution there were two paths. General Washington upon retiring to Mount Vernon passed away. Upon his death he freed his slaves. He realized the error and freed them. Tadeusz Kościuszko who wasn’t even an American by birth, growing up and later dying in Poland. Fought for our freedoms. He freed his slaves before he left the country and decried that fact that he had slaves. He left all the money owed to him by the American Government to Thomas Jefferson so that Thomas Jefferson could free his slaves. Jefferson promises his friend he would. But in death Jefferson failed that promise never freeing his slaves.

Governor Pence, I understand it is the right of Indiana as state in the union to make a law like the one you passed. I understand it is your right to enforce that law. What ask I of you today is are you in the end Tadeusz Kościuszko, someone who gave everything for our freedom and believed everyone deserved to be free regardless or Jefferson? Jefferson the founding father, who believed in the end that those like him were equal. Those not like him were not.

Which is it Governor Pence? Equality for all or just those like you?

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

One thought on “An open letter to Governor Pence

  1. Well said, Scott. of the book, Animal Farm: Some pigs are more equal than others–the ones that are like us.

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