Apple CEO Tim Cook Slams Indiana's 'Religious Freedom' Law

"There's something very dangerous happening in states across the country," the CEO warns of controversial legislation

Tim Cook slammed Indiana's controversial "religious freedom" bill as discriminatory and bad for business. Credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty

UPDATE: Wilco announced that they are canceling their scheduled May 7th show at Murat Theatre, noting that the "Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act feels like thinly disguised legal discrimination."

Just days after Indiana passed a controversial new "religious freedom" law that critics say will allow business owners to discriminate against same-sex couples and the LGBT community, Apple's Tim Cook, the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company, penned an op-ed for the Washington Post condemning Indiana's "dangerous" new law and similar legislature in other U.S. states.

"There's something very dangerous happening in states across the country," Cook writes, citing the new Indiana law as well as "more transparent," more discriminatory legislation is being drafted in Arkansas and Texas. "These bills rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality."

While Apple currently houses two retail stores in Indiana and another in Little Rock, Arkansas, Cook writes, "Our message, to people around the country and around the world, is this: Apple is open. Open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love. Regardless of what the law might allow in Indiana or Arkansas, we will never tolerate discrimination."

Cook writes that while "faith has always been an important part of my life," he was taught that religion shouldn't "be used as an excuse to discriminate."

The CEO went on to note the damaging effects of discrimination on business and the economy. "I'm standing up to oppose this new wave of legislation — wherever it emerges," Cook writes. "I'm writing in the hopes that many more will join this movement. 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."

After Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed Senate Bill 101 into law, Miley Cyrus called the politician an "asshole," and the heads of many tech companies, including Salesforce and Angie's List, reconsidered expanding their businesses to the Hoosier State after the "religious freedom" bill was passed.

Following the outrage from the bill and the economic backlash SB 101 could have on Indiana, Republicans in Indiana are attempting to pass an extension to the bill that would "make it crystal clear that [the "Religious Freedom" law] cannot be raised in a denial-of-services claim," Buzzfeed reports. However, the state's GOP rejected an appeal by Democrats to repeal SB 101 entirely as well as amendments to ban LGBT discrimination. Indiana Democrats are now drafting a companion bill that would expand the rights of the LGBT community, but there is no guarantee such measures would pass in the Republican-dominated State Senate.

"This isn't a political issue. It isn't a religious issue. This is about how we treat each other as human beings," Cook concluded. "Opposing discrimination takes courage. With the lives and dignity of so many people at stake, it’s time for all of us to be courageous."