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Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act set off a firestorm in the past week. Critics warned this law could have allowed anyone in that state’s private and public sectors to refuse service, housing and other rights to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents.

In a move Thursday to quiet the national uproar, Indiana lawmakers passed legislation that prohibits service providers from using the law as a legal defense for refusing to provide goods, services, facilities or accommodations. It also bars discrimination based on race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or U.S. military service.

The Times received many letters and emails this week on the issue. Even with the changes to the law, the debate on equality and religious freedom won’t likely end soon. Here, Seattle Times readers have their say:

Don’t mischaracterize religion

I’m both gay and Christian. I happily celebrate both free of cognitive dissonance.

With Indiana stirring up a righteous brouhaha over religious freedom, I am concerning myself here with the anti-religious sentiment that has turned #boycottindiana into a new hot spot of unapologetic religion bashing. While I am used to this in the Pacific Northwest — where a colleague of mine once noted it is easier to come out as gay than as Christian — I often experience this trend as an intellectual race to the bottom.

Hyperbole and flummoxing statements such as “nothing good ever came from religion” are hailed as the new Enlightenment. The faithful of all stripes are painted as naive hangers-on, ignorant of our moral bankruptcy and need of conversion.

I’m not fooled. It is not faith that drives corruption and bigotry, it is absolutism of any stripe. To those on this particular bandwagon, rather than sweeping up the beliefs of billions of people into your enlightened trash bin, I challenge you to engage in the real conversation about the exploitation of many by the few.

By the way, it’s a conversation my particular faith has been having for a couple thousand years.

Sophia F. Morse, Poulsbo

A new establishment

Britain had an “established church” called the Church of England. Having an established church allowed the British government to put in place laws and policies that discriminated in favor of the privileged group, the members in good standing of the Church of England, and discriminated against everyone else. It was because of this history that our Founding Fathers enshrined a ban on established churches in the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Make no mistake, the Indiana law, and its ilk, was designed to turn conservative Christianity into an established church. And this time around, the goal is the same as it was back then: to discriminate in favor of the privileged group and against everyone else. What seems different this time around is that many people, including some powerful people, have immediately and vocally objected to this plan as being aimed at gays. But gays are not the only group this law is designed to discriminate against. They and their supporters are just the first to raise a ruckus.

Established churches were a bad idea in 1776. They are still a bad idea.

Patrick J. Russell, Seattle

A double standard by the media

Last year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York declared in a radio interview that people who support gun rights and oppose abortion or gay marriage are “not welcome in New York.” This comment attracted virtually no national media attention apart from the conservative press.

This week, on the other hand, the national media are in a frenzy about an Indiana law that could have allowed a few small-business owners to opt out of serving gay weddings because of their religious objections. In strident tones, the media hyperbolically declare that the law sends the message that “gays are not welcome in Indiana,” and suggest that — if we don’t stop this right here — blacks will once again be eating at segregated lunch counters.

Cuomo is lucky he didn’t say that gays aren’t welcome in New York because that would have caused a media firestorm.

Stephen Triesch, Shoreline

Law raised even more moral questions

There are some parts of the debate on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act I understand and some things I don’t.

I work for an airline and understand that all people regardless of their faith, race, sex or sexual orientation have a right to travel and cannot be denied passage. I also understand that those same people have a right to shop where they want, to eat where they want and live where they want, without the fear of discrimination.

And maybe I am unenlightened, but I don’t see how one could be forced to give services to a person or groups he or she is morally opposed to. If I were a pastor or rabbi and a couple came to my office and asked to be wed, but were gay, would I have the right to say, “I can’t do that”?

How can Washington state, Apple, Nike and others refuse to do business with Indiana because they disagree with the law that was passed? Are they not acting any different from the businesses they are afraid may discriminate?

Rob Jones, Seattle