Experts Warn Louisiana’s “Religious Freedom” Bill Will Harm Their Economy

Louisiana State Capitol at night. Image via Wikipedia Commons.

Louisiana State Capitol at night. Image via Wikipedia Commons.

After recent bills in Arkansas and Indiana were updated to prohibit discrimination against LGBT people, Louisiana decided to try their own hand at creating a “religious freedom” bill which, as originally drafted, could have gone much further. Why would a state already facing a $1.6 billion budget gap and lacking the funds for the very presidential primaries Bobby Jindal is expected to run in next year decide to alienate businesses and tourists? The answer is that there’s a war going on just beneath the surface within the Republican Party between business interests and religious conservatives.

The lawmaker who put together Louisiana’s “religious freedom” bill, state Rep. Mike Johnson (R-Bossier City), has now stated that he would remove the most controversial part of the legislation, but the bill itself is still a political stunt designed to curry favor with religious conservatives.

The Louisiana legislator who drafted a bill that has been linked to controversial “religious freedom” measures in Indiana and Arkansas said he plans to alter his proposal amid concerns.

“I have had productive conversations with some very thoughtful people who have expressed concern about the specific language of that subsection,” state Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Bossier City, said in a statement. “Rather than try to modify the wording, I’ve decided it will be best to simply eliminate that paragraph entirely to avoid any further confusion. This bill is a good faith effort to protect the right of conscience for all Louisiana citizens, and we want to ensure its language accurately reflects that.” (Source)

Rep. Mike Johnson isn’t just some God-fearing good ol’ boy from NW Louisiana; he’s an attorney who is also representing creationist Ken Ham (yes, that Ken Ham) in a lawsuit against the state of Kentucky for $18 million (plus court costs and attorney fees).

Rep. Mike Johnson’s decision to remove the language in his bill comes on the heels of New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Stephen Perry warning the state that passing a “religious freedom” law like the ones from Indiana and Arkansas could be harmful to Louisiana’s economy.

Tourism is a huge part of the Louisiana economy, employing around 87,000 people and bringing in $5.2 billion annually according to the Louisiana Division of Administration.

New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Stephen Perry Wednesday issued a strongly worded statement concerning “religious freedom” bills in Indiana and Arkansas, saying his organization will closely monitor similar proposed legislation in the upcoming Louisiana legislative session. Perry said such legislation could threaten Louisiana’s economy.

“The adoption of certain types of overreaching, problematic and divisive legislation in Louisiana has the possibility of threatening our state’s third largest industry and creating economic losses pushing past a billion dollars a year and costing us tens of thousands of jobs,” Perry said. “Thus, we will be monitoring all legislation filed this year with an eye to economic security and to ensuring that Louisiana presents an image to the nation and the world that reflects open, progressive principles of tolerance and non-discrimination.” (Source)

The takeaway here is that in the Republican Party currently, big business has more influence than religious conservatives. However, religious conservatives aren’t going down without a fight, and bills like the ones in Indiana, Arkansas and now Louisiana are proof of that. As Lamar White notes in his recent story for, Louisiana already has laws on the books that are pretty much in line with the federal RFRA law from 1993. There’s no need for these religious freedom bills, except if you want to promote bigotry and drive away tourists and the film industry as a result. Or in Bobby Jindal’s case, pander to the religious right in a desperate attempt to get votes in the Iowa caucuses at the expense of Louisiana’s already faltering economy.


Facebook comments

  • Jindal’s approval has tanked and this is his last ditch effort to woo and win over the rabid far right winged religion theocracy instituting folks. Our budget, as is the case with most Republican led states is in the tank, and all Mr. Jindal concerns himself is with his running for President!

    For those believing Indiana’s bill was awful, wait until you see what is actually passed down here. It will kill much business but as the article makes clear; he could clear less. This coming from the guy who said, “We need to quit being the stupid party.”

  • Macdoodle

    If a Muslim run bakery refused to bake a cake for homosexuals would it receive the same attention the pizza shop in Indiana did?What if they refused to bake a cake with a depiction of the Prophet Mohammad on it after I asked them too?Would you liberals phone in death threats to them too?

    • DavidD

      If you coated yourself with honey and jumped in a fire ant bed you would probably blame the liberals when you got zapped..
      The victim tactic and the what if tactic was BS to start with and is wearing thin.

      • Frank C-man

        Just like the non-existent gays in the cornfields of Indiana who request pizzas for their weddings are the real victims here with Indiana’s RFRA law. Liberals never claim victimhood. Ever.

        Better liberal commenters here, please.

      • Jen

        If the Constitution ALREADY grants religious freedom, which it does, why do you need to make more laws about it. I thought the Republicans were the party of LESS government intrusion into private lives.

      • Frank C-man

        I suppose it has something to do with liberals who only wanted people to be accepting of the idea of same sex marriage just a couple years ago when folks like President Obama and Hillary Clinton were against it on religious grounds, but that now that most states have allowed gays to marry each other of the same sex, now death threats are made against folks who don’t want to have to attend those gay marriages. Something along those lines, Jen, where liberals weren’t quite open and honest about their intentions or just exactly it was that they wanted.

        Maybe some day in the not too distant future most people will have evolved as probably you and me and President Obama have. No one wants to be forced against their will or their religious beliefs to do something they don’t want to do or aren’t comfortable with, especially after they’ve been in a business long before same sex marriages were allowed in their state. You won’t even allow for that human nature characteristic that you allowed for not that long ago in most people. When Obama evolved, almost overnight it become something that liberals went from being fairly passive about to expecting everyone to change their minds just like the President did. To the point now even a pizza shop in the middle of nowhere is threatened with death and total destruction by those same liberals who’ve suddenly become totalitarian about it. Yes, they want less government. They don’t want the government forcing them to cater pizzas to their weddings, and they want to be able to at least say that without being threatened with death.

      • Barry Weinstein

        Ok, I am a liberal and this is what we want. We want the same rights for everyone. No denying the rights you enjoy to others. In short, stop the idea that the LGBT community is in any way inferior to yourselves. If that goes against you little book of fairy tales then too damn bad.

      • noah vail

        perhaps the libs should take a page from the right and the way they deal with things they dont like…kill them like they did to that kid in wyoming or the people killed at abortion clinics or maybe just beat them up if thats all they can get away with…and i used to think the muslims were the terrorists but our home grown “christians” have got them beat by a mile

      • Cemetery Girl

        There are homosexuals in Indiana. (My cousin is and happens to live in Indiana.) I would hope that anyone of any sexuality would opt for something besides pizza for their wedding.

      • Frank C-man

        They certainly would. That’s what make the whole Memories Pizza saga all very sad for the gay rights cause. It’s another example of fake outrage. Screaming about an answer to a hypothetical question to an impossible event.

      • Cemetery Girl

        Yes, being offended that a business states they wouldn’t want to serve you is so much worse than trying to gain fundamentalist customers by a business making a point of declaring they won’t cater all the weddings which aren’t interested in being catered by the business. A business made a declaration attempting to gain a certain type of customer, and it didn’t go over well.

      • Frank C-man

        They’re back in business, with money to remodel and re-tool. I think they’ll be ok, as long as none of the crazies on your side making death threats and warnings of burning their place down carry through on them.

        That’s who liberals are, Cemetery Girl. Those are the things they do. Gays don’t worry about not having pizza delivered to their weddings. They never did before this, and they won’t have to afterward. You’re turning your head the other way when it comes to the ugliness and threats of violence your side manufactured for what in essence was nothing more than a thought to a reporter’s hypothetical question. Shame on you.

    • BB-Mystic

      Apparently it did “receive the same attention,” as there’s a highly publicized YouTube video about it.

      For the record, yes, the Muslim shop owner was in the wrong for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding. The principle is the same no matter what the owner’s religion is. Also, no one should get death threats, so whoever called in threats to Memories Pizza and this Muslim shop owner (if that actually happened) is to be condemned.

      • TheSenator2015


      • TheSenator2015

        It didnt receive NEAR thee same attention. A video on you youtube is harldy the same as national news! twunt!

  • Frank C-man

    Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Indiana is back in business, and that’s a good thing.


    • DerpDestroyer

      Last week, I started my own pizza shop! It’s called Vague Recollections Pizza. We deny service to blacks, jews, muslims, gays, longhairs, queers, and all other undesirables. But, unfortunately, our natural right to discriminate has us in quite the kerfuffle — you see, we have been attacked and victimized by the lamestream media, and we have been forced to close our doors! Please donate to our GoFundMe campaign and preserve our God given right to religious freedom! Every dollar counts 😉

      • Frank C-man

        Memories Pizza didn’t deny service to anyone, and they stated they wouldn’t deny service to anyone walking through their doors. They were issued death threats. They didn’t start a GoFundMe campaign, and they didn’t ask anyone to donate to it. In fact, it’s hard to see any similarities between them and you. Any at all.