In early 1991, Curt Smith hired me to serve in the press office of U.S. Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN). He was my boss for more than three years, working in harness for one of the finest men to serve in the Senate in recent memory.
Curt is a gracious, soft-spoken man who has a deep love for people. He was patient with me as I grew in my role and has been a friend for, now, nearly a quarter of a century.
He is also a committed follower of Jesus Christ who, while working for the prestigious law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, also served as head of the Indiana Family Institute. Now, due to his support for Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s original religious liberty bill, Curt has lost his job. As Indianapolis’s WISH-TV tells it:
Until last week Smith was the director of public policy at the Taft Law firm. One of its biggest clients is Cummins, the Columbus based engine manufacturer that was a leading opponent of the religious freedom law. Something had to give … (By) last week Smith was in the middle of a professional transition. As recently as Monday morning his Linkedin page showed him working at Taft Law. But an email sent to his law firm address came back with a message saying that he left Taft to join the Family Institute as President, even though his bio at the Family Institute website points out that he has actually held that position for 11 years. A spokesman for the law firm said that the purpose of the Family Institute didn’t match the purpose of the law firm but that it was Smith’s decision to leave ... The Taft law firm, according the spokesman, has a principle of inclusiveness, and the when the Religious Freedom law was perceived to allow discrimination against gays and lesbians, that apparently posed an additional problem.
A “principle of inclusiveness?” Really? So inclusive that they part ways with the former state director of a sitting U.S. Senator who simply endorsed a bill signed by the democratically elected governor of one of the nation’s largest states? A bill that mirrors the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), signed into law by Bill Clinton and sponsored by then-Sen. Ted Kennedy?
It is a sad day for Indiana and for American law when a man as principled and talented as Curt Smith is de facto forced to leave his role with his employer because he believes that coercion and repression are not Hoosier values. The moral cowardice of the leadership of Taft and its clients (including Cummins, about whose generous federal contracts I wrote myriad news releases when working for Sen. Coats) is repulsive.
Curt Smith has the assurance of a loving God and the respect of many friends. What do Taft, Cummins, and their compeers have? Gaining the world at the cost of one’s soul is, according to Jesus, a bad bargain. They might consider that a bit.