Tim Cook has written an op-ed in the Washington Post describing legislation permitting businesses to bypass anti-discrimination laws on religious grounds as “very dangerous,” and in fundamental opposition to the founding principles of the United States. In it, he referenced the ugly days of racial segregation, which finally ended only in the 1960s.

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.

Apple has previously spoken out against religious discrimination in Arizona, and Cook tweeted on Friday to express Apple’s “deep disappointment” at a new law in Indiana … 

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Cook wrote that in speaking out against a “wave of legislation” permitting discrimination, he was in no way opposing religious belief.

I have great reverence for religious freedom. As a child, I was baptized in a Baptist church, and faith has always been an important part of my life. I was never taught, nor do I believe, that religion should be used as an excuse to discriminate.

He argued that the controversy isn’t a religious issue, but a simple matter of “how we treat each other as human beings.”

Cook said that discrimination was not only wrong, but bad for business, hurting both jobs and the economy in states where discrimination is permitted. He reiterated Apple’s own commitment to treat everyone equally.

At Apple, we are in business to empower and enrich our customers’ lives. We strive to do business in a way that is just and fair […]

Apple is open […] to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love. Regardless of what the law might allow in Indiana or Arkansas, we will never tolerate discrimination.

Cook said recently that his own decision to become the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company last year had not been an easy one, but he did it because “it would likely help other people.”

Apple has long championed diversity, publishing its first annual diversity report last year and holding a number of employee events designed to promote inclusion. Apple earlier this month joined Google, Microsoft and 370 other companies in urging the US Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage across the country.

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