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The Indiana law that 'fell off the stupid tree'

Let's be 100-percent clear: Indiana's brand new Religious Freedom Law is a measure that fell off the stupid tree and hit every branch on the way down. And I say that as not only a conservative, but a religious conservative.

The law isn't even a day old and it's already showing very bad results for the entire state of Indiana, including the religious people it was supposed to protect. Just hours after Governor Mike Pence signed the bill into law, Salesforce.com founder and CEO Marc Benioff announced on Twitter that his company is canceling all business with the state that would require its customers to, "travel to Indiana to face discrimination." Other tech company leaders followed suit with similar statements before the day was out.

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And, in what is probably an even more wounding development in the basketball-crazed Hoosier State, the NCAA announced that it is "especially concerned" by the law and that it will now "work diligently" to ensure its student-athletes are not adversely effected by it. This all comes as the NCAA's biggest money-making enterprise, the "March Madness" men's basketball tournament is about to hold its Final Four in Indianapolis beginning in just eight days. The NCAA headquarters are also in Indianapolis, and it doesn't sound impossible that it would consider moving out over this.

Gov. Mike Pence, R-Ind.
Bill Clark | CQ Roll Call | Getty Images
Gov. Mike Pence, R-Ind.

More bad economic news and public relations will come for sure — and it will hurt a lot of innocent business people along way.

All of this is a textbook example of a politically-motivated hysterical reaction to a non-crisis pulled straight out of the failed government playbook the liberals use every day. Think about it: One cake baker in a state that wasn't even Indiana and one wedding photographer in another state that ALSO wasn't Indiana were unfairly subjected to state government and court pressure for refusing to provide a service for gay weddings that the business owners believed were a deep offense to their religious beliefs. I think the court's and state government's decisions in those cases were unfair, especially since the best way for the plaintiffs to rectify the situation was to go to another business.

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But is there an epidemic of private business owners refusing to supply or serve gay customers? Is there an epidemic of those aggrieved gay customers going to courts to bring those businesses to heel? Let me put it this way: We have more cases of Ebola in this country than true victims on either side of this scenario. Hyperbolic activists on the Left, and overly zealous leaders on the Right are blowing this way out of proportion. And many of Indiana's religious and Republican political leaders fell for it.

I know a lot of my fellow devout Jews and Christians are legitimately worried that gay activists will use the courts to force them to abandon their religious practices and beliefs. I also think there is legitimate concern that religious institutions could one day lose their tax-exempt status if they don't toe the politically-correct line of the day. But none of those legitimate concerns are addressed by this new Indiana law. Religious conservatives in that state should have realized a long time ago that passing this law would do little more than paint a giant bull's eye on them and people like them all over the country.

But if history holds true to form, gay activists and opportunist politicians on the Left will now resolve to fight this law with more than just the acceptable free-market tactics being used by Salesforce.com and being considered by the NCAA. They're very likely to push for the passage of yet another dumb law or set of laws at the state and federal level.

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Now before all you amateur historians get on your high horses and remind us all about how the federal civil rights laws were necessary to end racist policies and laws -- take a breath. Federal civil rights legislation was used to erase century-old state laws that helped everyone discriminate against minorities throughout more than a dozen states in thousands of different ways every day. In other words, bad state laws were so bad that they absolutely invited federal intrusion. That's not what's happening or what's needed here.

What should be happening is exactly what Salesforce is doing. It's using its powers and choices in the free market to respond to this dumb law by pulling its business from the state and going elsewhere. And that's what customers who believe they're being discriminated against by a business owner should do too. Take your business elsewhere.

And what do religious business owners do when they believe they're being forced to provide services that violate their religious beliefs? Well, first let's hear about more than a miniscule number of instances nationwide before we worry about that. Second, let's also realize that the real threats are coming to religious people and entities who take government funding of some kind.

It's one thing to threaten to remove tax-exempt status for churches and schools; it's another thing for those schools and churches and synagogues to continue to take government funding and not expect that funding to be vulnerable to the shifting cultural and political winds. The only way to indemnify themselves against those shifts is for them to take their business elsewhere too and get their funding from private sources only. Getting into bed with the government is a bad deal, and I expect my fellow religious Americans to know that and act accordingly.

In Indiana, they have just done the opposite.

Commentary by Jake Novak, supervising producer of "Power Lunch." Follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.