Letter: Singer’s refusal oozes with irony

From: John Armstrong


I cannot agree with singer Kate Hamilton’s views expressed in the May 21 article in The Republic, but I fully support her right to refuse to participate in the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic’s Salute concert. Her refusal is based on the presence at the concert of Gov. Mike Pence, whose policies she opposes. She is rightly concerned that her participation could be seen by some people “as acquiescing in the governor’s policies.” Certainly no one should ask her to violate her sincerely held beliefs, and if her participation might give the impression that she is in agreement with what the governor stands for, who can fault her for opting out of the concert?

Not I, but her refusal to participate oozes with irony. Indiana’s RFRA law, which Hamilton opposes, was originally written to protect residents who might refuse to participate in certain civic events and public ceremonies, since their participation could be seen by some as acquiescing in or giving silent approval of them.

If Hamilton can refuse participation in an event based on her sincerely held personal and political beliefs, shouldn’t citizens with sincerely held religious beliefs be able to refuse participation in events and ceremonies that they find objectionable? Shouldn’t conscientious objection run both ways?

If Hamilton refuses to share the stage with Pence because of what he says and does, she is merely exercising her right of conscience, which all residents should be able to exercise, including those whose consciences are shaped by religious values.