INDIANAPOLIS– This week Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed his controversial new Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law. The bill has caused a furor in the Hoosier state, as opponents fear it will give businesses the legal right to refuse service to the LGBT community.
Governor Pence has adamantly defended the bill, saying, "This piece of legislation is absolutely vital for residents of Indiana, as it protects their individual religious freedoms, a topic already covered quite thoroughly by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution."
Opponents of the bill say it's vaguely worded and could be used to discriminate against homosexuals and other minorities. When questioned about the intent of the legislation, Pence stated, "These rampant and illogical fears are completely unfounded. This bill that's expressly designed to allow businesses to discriminate against homosexuals will of course never be used in the manner in which it was intended. Leave it to the liberal media to imply that such a bill could ever possibly be used for its exact purpose."
Pence went on to add, "Hoosier citizens are behind this bill 100%, which is why I signed it in a secret ceremony, inside a bunker located hundreds of feet beneath the Governor's mansion, surrounded by a human shield of nuns, monks, priests, clerics, friars, padres, vicars, rabbis, shamans and wizards."
"Seriously," said Pence, "Just look at all of them I managed to pack in here! How could anyone, even the staunchest and most ill-informed liberal, possibly come to the conclusion that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is a bad thing when I had this many religious nuts standing around me? A priest or a nun wouldn't just stand idly by, smiling beatifically while I signed something bad now, would they?"
"I tried to get the Pope to appear too," added Pence, "But his office wouldn't return my calls. And I think Mother Teresa died a couple years ago."
When questioned, many of the religious leaders who attended the photo-op admitted they had no idea why they were there. Rabbi Schlomo Mendelbaum was horrified when informed of true purpose of the ceremony. "I was told there'd be a spread here," said Mendelbaum. "I'm not seeing any food. Wha? I'm here for what? A bill that does what? Jesus Christ! Let me out of here! Where's the door?"
Other members of the so-called "religious" leaders in attendance were actually cosplayers, brought in from a nearby comic book convention. One was dressed as Gandalf the White, a main character from the popular Lord Of The Rings novels, along with several Jedis, the fictional order from the Star Wars films, and several Tenth Level Clerics from the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game.
Many major corporations in the Hoosier state have expressed their outrage over the bill, threatening to relocate if the legislation isn't immediately repealed. Salesforce, a multi-billion dollar firm, has canceled plans for a major expansion in Indiana, while GenCon, a popular annual gaming convention, and the NCAA have also threatened to take their business elsewhere. These businesses and events represent billions of dollars, a loss the Hoosier state can ill afford.
Pence was nonplussed by the threats and boycotts. "Prolonged and devastating economic collapse is a small price to pay so that Indiana bakers have the right to refuse service to homosexuals," said Pence. "Which is not what the bill is designed to do, by the way! I'm just saying."
"If we don't act immediately, who knows how many small businesses will be forced to cater to those people?" added Pence, as he visibly shuddered in an exaggerated and cartoonish manner. "Today it's bakers, tomorrow it could be seamstresses, forced to make two gowns for the same wedding! Brrrr!"
Some pundits have speculated that Pence signed the controversial bill in order to gain favor among conservative Republicans, as preparation for a Presidential run. "I am absolutely and categorically not running for President," said Pence. "Honestly, I have no idea where you people get such ideas," he said, as he hurriedly shoved a form labeled "Application For President Of The United States Of America" into his desk drawer.