Stephen Lam/Getty Images
Stephen Lam/Getty Images
Apple CEO Tim Cook has a powerful message for those passing Religious Freedom laws.
Cook, who came out publicly last year, penned an editorial for The Washington Post in response to a recent wave of legislation that would allow business owners to refuse service to anyone who goes against their religious beliefs. It is being seen as an anti-LGBT law, and Indiana's passage of such an act caused extreme backlash from the nation. Businesses, celebrities and conventions all voiced their intention to boycott Indiana, while governor Mike Pence insisted that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act he signed wasn't about discrimination.
Regardless of Pence's defense of his decision, the country is headed down a slippery slope, as more than two dozen states have introduced this type of legislation. And Tim Cook is setting out to not only remind the world that Apple is "open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love," but to urge the public to come together and fight discrimination.
"These bills rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear," he writes. "They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality."
Cook also notes that he has "great reverence" for religious freedom and recalls his Baptist upbringing.
"As a child, I was baptized in a Baptist church, and faith has always been an important part of my life," he reveals. "I was never taught, nor do I believe, that religion should be used as an excuse to discriminate. I remember what it was like to grow up in the South in the 1960s and 1970s. Discrimination isn't something that's easy to oppose. It doesn't always stare you in the face. It moves in the shadows. And sometimes it shrouds itself within the very laws meant to protect us."
Cook closes his letter with a moving statement about our nation's history and what we can do to protect our future:
"Men and women have fought and died fighting to protect our country's founding principles of freedom and equality. We owe it to them, to each other and to our future to continue to fight with our words and our actions to make sure we protect those ideals. The days of segregation and discrimination marked by "Whites Only" signs on shop doors, water fountains and restrooms must remain deep in our past. We must never return to any semblance of that time. America must be a land of opportunity for everyone. This isn't a political issue. It isn't a religious issue. This is about how we treat each other as human beings. 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."
You can read Cook's full piece at The Washington Post's website.