The Battle for Religious Freedom in Georgia

Earlier this year Georgia Senator Marty Harbin introduced SB 233, a state copy of the federal Religious Freedom and Restoration Act. It’s pretty widely accepted that a “clean” RFRA (just the 1993 federal RFRA language, without the additional provisions included in the 2016 bill that was vetoed by Governor Deal) would pass the Georgia General Assembly and be sent to the Governor’s desk. In fact, Nathan Deal has said in the past year, he would sign a clean RFRA bill. But now the Governor has reneged on RFRA, and many of his supporters in the Senate are trying to make sure RFRA never gets a vote.

There are a number of arguments for passing RFRA, such as the one laid out here by Resurgent contributor Dave Bishop. Many would even argue that RFRA does not go far enough to protect religious liberties, but it is certainly a necessary step in the right direction. I reached out to Senator Harbin, and he had this to say about RFRA.

“The Religious Freedom Restoration Act merely raises the levels of religious freedom for Georgia Citizens, giving them the same religious freedom protections as inmates in a Federal prison.

The history of RFRA begins in 1993 when this legislation was passed into law by the US congress, with only 3 dissenting votes out of 535 lawmakers. President Bill Clinton signed it into law. For four years, Americans enjoyed the same level of protection for religion that is enjoyed by free speech, the press, and the right to peaceably assemble. This level of protection is offered for these other freedoms at both the state and federal levels.

However, in 1997, the US Supreme Court ruled that RFRA would have to be enacted by individual states for it to be applicable at the state level. Since that time, 21 states, ranging from deep red to deep blue, have enacted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, currently labeled SB 233 in Georgia.

The legislation merely requires that the government show a compelling government interest before infringing on someone’s freedom of religion. It also requires the government, once it has proven it needs to invade someone’s religion, to do so in the least invasive way possible.

This is simple, yet crucial legislation. And we are working hard to enact it this year in Georgia.

Governor Nathan Deal voted for this bill in 1993 in the US congress. However, he has declined to support the exact same bill for the state of Georgia. The Lieutenant Governor, Casey Cagle, assigned RFRA to Rules, where Chairman Jeff Mullis refused to allow it a hearing.

We will continue to work to pass this important legislation for the citizens of Georgia.”

Unfortunately the delay tactics have done enough to prevent RFRA from making it to the Governor’s desk in 2017. Even if it were to clear the Senate, it is too late to send the bill to the House to pass it before the session ends. However, it is important that RFRA pass the Senate in this session for several reasons.

First, it would clear an important hurdle for 2018, and put RFRA near the front of the line for the next legislative session.

Second, it would send a message to gubernatorial candidates that we are serious about RFRA. There will be a lot of campaigning done between now and January 2018, and passing RFRA through the Senate would ensure that RFRA is a topic of discussion in the Republican primary.

Chairman Mullis should give RFRA a fair hearing instead of allowing it to be pigeon-holed in his committee. These are tactics we would expect from Harry Reid, not Georgia Republicans. If you would like to encourage Chairman Mullis to give RFRA a hearing, you can email him at [email protected] or call his office at 404-656-0057.

Religious Liberty Gets the Scare Quote Treatment

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, some Georgia lawmakers have introduced yet another bill to enact a state religious freedom restoration act (RFRA). This looks to be an even-more-watered-down version than the milquetoast bill Governor Deal lacked the courage to sign last year (which itself was scaled back from the one from which Vice President Pence retreated when he was still Governor of Indiana).

The bill (text here) appears almost literally to copy-and-past from the federal RFRA, which President Clinton signed into law in 1993. As a legislative vehicle, it strikes this writer as dubious, and is probably already doomed anyway.

The interesting part of this, however, is the repeated use of quotes around “religious liberty” by the AJC in its stories. As a cursory review, here are just a few instances where this occurs:

  • Today’s story containing the text of the bill: 3 times, including in the headline
  • Yesterday’s story on the bill’s filing: 4 times, including the headline and the opening sentence
  • Yesterday’s story anticipating the bill’s ultimate fate: 3 times, including the headline
  • Last year’s story on Governor Deal’s veto: 4 times, including the headline and opening sentence

Scare-quoting like this is essentially the paper’s method of saying “yeah, right!” With this styling, the AJC is implying that the purpose of the bill cannot really be religious liberty. It must be something else – like discrimination! Thus, not even subtly, a newspaper is impugning the motives of those in support of the bill rather than weighing the merits of the bill itself. (To their respective writers’ credit, a couple of the stories linked above do actually address substantive arguments against the bill, but only after the scare-quoting.) It is a deliberate editorial choice, and a poor one by a local paper that is capable of excellent work.

Note: As of the time of this writing, searches of the AJC’s archives have yielded no references to the “Affordable” Care Act.

Religious Freedom: Disney Tells Georgia to “Let It Go…”

We should have seen this coming, Georgia. After all it was a Disney / Pixar film that captured the mantra of the secular Progressives: “We scare because we care.”

Just as we describe in You Will Be Made to Care, Disney has joined the NFL and other compassionate bullies to try to shut down even stripped-down religious freedom protection in Georgia under the auspices of opposing discrimination. They are threatening to take their Marvel movie-making magic somewhere else if Georgia passes HB 757 to protect religious freedom.

For the record, they had been filming in Ohio for Captain America films previously before moving operations to Georgia. And yet Ohio, under the cowardice of John Kasich, refused to consider religious freedom protection. The governor who famously told Christians to “just bake the cupcakes” said such protection wasn’t necessary in Ohio.

And yet Marvel left the state anyways. Why? Because at the end of the day, it’s all about making money for shareholders. And if they can do that in Georgia, they will.

The number of people falling for the outright lies is staggering. Senator Isakson (R-GA) even said that he thought such issues should be handled at the federal level. Unreal.  Clearly he has not read You Will Be Made to Care or his recent history for that matter. Had he done so, he would know that the whole reason we need state-level RFRA laws is that the federal RFRA law (signed by President Clinton more than 20 years ago) was ruled by the courts as only applicable to federal cases, not state or local ones.

Now more than 32 states have passed some variation of the federal law or have court rulings in place in order to provide the same basic protections to religious freedom. Via the Washington Post n 2014:

How many states already provide heightened protection for the exercise of religion? The answer? Thirty-one, 18 of which passed state laws based on the 1993 federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The protections in an additional 13 states came through court rulings.

Now 20 have done so with Indiana and Arkansas having passed similar bills (Indiana already had some level of court protections.). The corporate bullies protested against Indiana, too, and threatened to pull their money. Governor Pence and friends baled then, stripping the bill of its core protections and leaving Indiana citizens in worse shape than before. Arkansas passed its law and got on with life, without the world coming to an end. Wal-Mart is still doing business there.

And we still have absolutely no cases in which these laws have been used to justify unlawful discrimination.

Erick Erickson has summarized the main points of the GA HB 757 compromise legislation:

What does Georgia’s law do?

  1. It says no preacher can be forced to perform a religious service in violation of his faith.
  2. It says no religious organization can be forced to hire people that disagree with the religious tenets of the organization.
  3. It says the government cannot force a business to stay open on a Saturday or Sunday.
  4. It specifically says the organizations cannot discriminate against protected classes of citizens.

The legislation also includes the federal RFRA language that Bill Clinton signed into law.

That’s it.

In other words, it provides narrow protection for only a handful of Georgians while strictly forbidding any unlawful discrimination.

It’s like offering an umbrella to survivors of the Titanic stranded on an iceberg in the middle of a hurricane as they drift toward the equator.

It’s not much, but at least it’s something.

Yet Disney, the NFL, and other corporate interests want to rip that little protection away.

Dare I say it? (Parents prepare to cringe….) Disney is telling all people of faith in Georgia to simply, “Let it go, let it go….”

Hypocrisy and Special Protection

Disney’s hypocrisy is chilling.

First, full disclosure: I am a Disney annual pass holder and have been at many times over the years. I’ve spent about 200 days on property at Walt Disney World. So yes, I am fan of Disney, in general. I am not turning their own tactics on them and calling for a Disney boycott.

Yet Florida is one the states that has tougher RFRA laws than Georgia is proposing. Disney does business there without a problem. If they were to be consistent, they should shutter their parks now. They are even digging a significant financial hole trying to build a new park in communist China.

The NFL likewise has no problem hosting Super Bowls in Louisiana, Florida, and Texas which also have tougher RFRA law than Georgia is proposing. They have no problem making gobs of cash by having their teams play in the USA which has stronger RFRA protection at the federal level than HB 757 is proposing. They’re even talking about having a game in communist China in 2018. (What is it with these corporate overlords and this fascination with China?)

The truth is, the corporate Leftists see an opportunity to leverage their alleged influence to advance the Left’s agenda. They sense weakness in Governor Deal–a correct diagnosis, it would seem– and are trying to move the goalposts on this issue.

If they can succeed in defeating even this stripped down religious freedom protection, they can then compare all future efforts to this “horribly discriminatory ” Georgia bill. They will wail about how the new efforts even go beyond that “horribly discriminatory” Georgia bill that was simply the worst. It will become the new standard by which all other potential protections get measured.

There is another angle here for the Left, as well.

Having fallen short legally thus far, the Left is trying to create the perception of a legally protected class for those who participate in same-sex ceremonies. (They are not, and never will be, marriages.) They want the protection of the 14th Amendment applied to them so their interests can trump your 1st Amendment rights. The Supreme Court silliness in Obergefell stopped just short of giving it to them.

But if they can create the public perception that they have those protections, the chilling effect will be the same.

For the first time in America, we would have a de facto protected class of people based on what they say they feel inside, or worse, what they say they do in the bedroom.

A Closer Look at the Legislation

Addressing the timing of the bill, state senator Greg Kirk told the New York Times. “When the Supreme Court changed the definition of marriage, dynamics changed. There was a need for a law, for this law, and it took Georgia to lead the way of the country to put this law together.”

He’s right. Obergefell forced us to act to protect the the rights of all people of faith—Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist–you name it. Because now we are being pressured by the government to endorse or support behavior we believe to be morally wrong. 

The legislators made sure to explain specifically who would be protected by this bill. They did not, as some opponents claim, open a door for any person to deny service to anyone they don’t agree with. The bill applies only to faith-based organizations: pastors, priests, churches, religious schools, or mission agencies.

It stops colleges from doing what was done at Vanderbilt, forcing faith-based organizations to place non-believers in leadership positions. More than two dozen such organizations shut their doors there and left the state. It keeps churches from having to hire people they believe to be engaged in sinful behavior. It protects faith-based organizations from being required to let others use their property for events which violate their religious beliefs. Those organizations can’t be required to  “provide social, educational, or charitable services that violate such faith based organization’s sincerely held religious belief.” The government is prohibited from pressuring or punishing these organizations by revoking tax exemption or invoking tax penalties.

Civil lawsuits aren’t even protected against here. The only place where the bill prohibits a civil lawsuit is in the situation of an employee or someone refused employment suing the religious organization for acting on their clearly articulated tenants or beliefs.

The click-bait articles make the legislators out to be anti-gay witch hunters who created this document simply to excuse their own prejudices and phobias. However, far from being a blazing, anti-gay rant, the Bill 575 concerns the government and religious organization. Not one instance of “gay,” “lesbian,” or “sexual orientation” occurs in the document.

This narrow focus actually leaves most of Georgia’s citizens unprotected under the legislation. And that should concern all of us left outside the umbrella.

This iceberg is shrinking. We can all huddle together for warmth, but it won’t be enough as the cultural waters get hotter.

Yes, it seems we will get wet on this ride.

But maybe that is where Disney would prefer people of faith to be—under the sea.

NFL Blackmails Georgia to Stop Religious Freedom Protection

Jesus said it best: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

The NFL is insisting that states be made to choose between the two–God or money:

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, now under construction in downtown Atlanta, is one of several stadiums under consideration for Super Bowl LIV, which would be played at the end of the NFL’s centennial 2019 season in February 2020. A statement from NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy Friday afternoon said, “NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard.  Whether the laws and regulations of a state and local community are consistent with these policies would be one of many factors NFL owners may use to evaluate potential Super Bowl host sites.”

Did I read that right?  Their policies prohibit discrimination against religion?

Yet that is exactly what they are pressuring Georgia to do–to permit people to be punished by the government for refusing to compromise their religious beliefs.

The Georgia legislature passed, by wide margins, compromise legislation (HB 757) to protect religious freedom of some Georgians. It doesn’t go far enough, but it is all we are going to get right now in the corrupted land of cotton.

HB 757 simply protects religious folks from having another religion–secularism–forced upon them in violation of their conscience.

It was passed by representatives of the people over the objections of the big money interests.

The NFL is a bunch of cowards who worship money and hide behind labels like “discrimination” while not having a clue what that means. 

They are all too happy to take the money of Georgians while spitting upon their faith.

And Governor Deal may be the biggest coward of them all. He waited until the bill had passed both houses of the legislature before saying he didn’t support it but offered no feedback as to what he would want changed.

And now we know why. Money.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal now must choose between the two as the NFL (a “non-profit organization”) piles onto the Leftist outcry about discrimination.

The NFL will one day cease to exist. God will remain.

Governor Deal, after you shuffle off this mortal coil, it won’t be the NFL commissioner or owners of other sports teams who will demand an account for your time on earth.

Their influence stops at your headstone.

And what is the price of your betrayal of all those of deep faith who voted for you twice thinking they had a defender in the Capitol? 30 pieces of silver? The Super Bowl?  That’s it?

The truth is that Super Bowl host cities “always lose the money game.”

[T]he city of Glendale, Ariz. — home of the Arizona Cardinals — lost between $579,000 and $1.25 million hosting the Super Bowl, thanks to public safety and transportation costs.

And just ask Minnesota about the confidential “requests” the NFL had before letting Minnesota host in 2018:

The National Football League had a long and expensive list of confidential requests before it awarded the 2018 Super Bowl to Minneapolis.

Free police escorts for team owners, and 35,000 free parking spaces. Presidential suites at no cost in high-end hotels. Free billboards across the Twin Cities. Guarantees to receive all revenue from the game’s ticket sales — even a requirement for NFL-preferred ATMs at the stadium.

Those requirements and many others are detailed in 153 pages of NFL specifications for the game. An official on the host committee that successfully sought the game — Minneapolis beat out Indianapolis and New Orleans — said the panel had agreed to a majority of the conditions but would not elaborate.

The document, which the Star Tribune obtained through sources, has not been released publicly but shows how the NFL will control the event and many of its public aspects. The NFL declined to comment on the document and host committee officials are declining to make it public, citing state data privacy laws.

The entire document is available here.

From USA Today:

It’s a business – competitive, costly and, it turns out, increasingly advantageous for the NFL.

“You have to comply,” Kennedy told USA TODAY Sports, “or make best efforts at complying with the specifications set forth.”

Be prepared to pay up, too.

So apparently, we’re willing to invest countless millions into attracting guys in colorful spandex who collide with one another but not an ounce of courage into protecting religious freedom.

The Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Hawks, and Metro Atlanta Chamber have all joined the Pharisaical chorus: Give us Barabbas! As for people of faith, crucify ’em.

You will be made to care.

Governor Nathan Deal’s Cowardly and Unbiblical Case Against Religious Liberty

The Atlanta Journal Constitution actually used this headline to report Governor Nathan Deal’s surrender of religious freedom in Georgia:

Nathan Deal makes a forceful, biblical case against Georgia’s ‘religious liberty’ bill

If ever there was a snort-worthy headline, this is it.

The truth is that what we are seeing in Georgia is crony capitalism at its worst—big business in bed with lovers of big government being pushed by special interests to trample the rights of the majority of citizens.

It is neither forceful nor courageous to surrender to the compassionate bullies of the Left. They Left cries for compromise all the time, but they do not want it. Not really.

The legislation now being considered in the House is compromise legislation.

Last year when concerned citizens of Georgia sought to give all citizens equal protection under the law—the same protections that Bill Clinton and a bi-partisan Congress put in place at the national level—the Leftist bullies, big business, and the politicians in their pockets refused to do so.

They chose money over freedom and left all of us exposed.

This year, lovers of faith and freedom have compromised. They are asking only for crumbs from the table–protection for pastors and organizations that are explicitly religious in nature.

What they are asking for leaves the overwhelming majority of Georgians still exposed to the attacks we see across the nation.

But the Left refuses to compromise. That should tell us a lot about their agenda.

They do not want compromise. They don’t want to “work it out” or “just get along.”  As Erick and I document in our book, you will be made to care.

Deal hides behind concerns about being accused of–Gasp!–discrimination:

I believe [freedoms] can be protected without setting up the situation where we could be accused of allowing or encouraging discrimination.

No, Governor. You are wrong. Accusations are what the Left live for. It is the essence of the power they wield as defenders of an ever-expanding victim class.

And here’s a news flash: Discrimination is not a bad word.

We all do it–and we should do it–every day. When we eat at Chik-fil-A and not at McDonald’s, we are discriminating. When we choose to watch yet another season of Survivor instead of slogging through Presidential debates, we are discriminating. When we continue to love our children but refuse to condone their mistakes, we are discriminating, and rightly so.

When we chose to vote for Nathan Deal instead of Jason Carter, we discriminated. I don’t recall hearing the Governor complain then.

The only way to get a definition of marriage that is free of discrimination is to abolish marriage entirely, because any definition of anything is, by definition, discriminatory.

If marriage is between one man and one woman for life then other relationships are necessarily excluded. If marriage is between any two consenting adults who care about each other, then other relationships are also excluded—polygamy, incest, thrupples—the waiting list is long.

You see, this is not about whether or not discrimination will or should take place. It is only an argument about when and where it must take place.

The Left is co-opting civil rights language to prey upon our national guilt complex over racisim in our past. But no one is being denied service because of sexual orientation.

There are no hetero-sexual only water fountains in Georgia. Instead it is Christians like Chief Kelvin Cochran and all people with sincerely held religious beliefs who are being escorted to the back of the bus.

To make matters worse, Nathan Deal is using his faith as cover to do it.

Like John Kasich in Ohio who claimed expanding Obamacare in his state was something Jesus would want him to do, Deal tries to twist Scripture to say Jesus would want Georgians to not have the protection afforded to nearly every other citizen of every other southern state and guaranteed to every citizen of the United States at the federal level.

“What the New Testament teaches us is that Jesus reached out to those who were considered the outcasts, the ones that did not conform to the religious societies’ view of the world … We do not have a belief in my way of looking at religion that says we have to discriminate against anybody. If you were to apply those standards to the teaching of Jesus, I don’t think they fit.”

He then turned to a passage from the Gospel of John that showed Jesus reaching out to an outcast.

“What that says is we have a belief in forgiveness and that we do not have to discriminate unduly against anyone on the basis of our own religious beliefs. We are not jeopardized, in my opinion, by those who believe differently from us. We are not, in my opinion, put in jeopardy by virtue of those who might hold different beliefs or who may not even agree with what our Supreme Court said the law of the land is on the issue of same-sex marriage. I do not feel threatened by the fact that people who might choose same-sex marriages pursue that route.”

There is much unbiblical nonsense in Deal’s faulty exposition of this passage about Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan women at the well which concludes, I might point out, with Jesus’ insistence that the woman stop engaging in sinful behavior.

But let’s start by tossing Deal’s red herring back where it came from: The call for religious freedom protection is not about showing love to outcasts.

It is not an argument about discriminating against a person or persons at all—it is about people being forced by the government to violate their conscience and give their approval to one specific act.

If you doubt this is happening, you have not read You Will Be Made to Care. It is the religious who are now in danger of being considered outcasts, not the secularists.

Jesus said that marriage was ordained by God before ever a politician or business roamed the earth:

“Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,  and said,‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two but one flesh.What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (ESV)

Christians who believe the words of Jesus see no room for compromise. Yet they are not even trying to force their faith upon others in the light of the tyrannical love poetry spouted by Anthony Kennedy in the Obergefell decision. They just do not want to be forced by the government to approve of specific behavior–the abolition of marriage.

Deal continued babbling:

“I hope that we can all just take a deep breath, recognize that the world is changing around us, and recognize that it is important that we protect fundamental religious beliefs,” he said. “But we don’t have to discriminate against other people in order to do that. And that’s the compromise that I’m looking for.”

Yes, Governor Deal, you do need to discriminate against those who wish to annihilate religious freedom if you want to preserve religious freedom. You cannot have it both ways. To quote Jesus, You cannot serve God and money.

Building a wall on our southern border is not wrongfully discriminatory. It is the right thing to do to preserve our national sovereignty. Likewise building a legislative wall to protect the free exercise of religion in Georgia is not wrongfully discriminatory.

It is the right thing to do.

If you think Jesus actually wants you to facilitate the persecution of those who follow him, Governor Deal, that is a Jesus Christians throughout history have never known.

 

Consciously Sidelining Ourselves

Though Walmart remains fixed in the American conscience as Sam Walton’s business, it is less and less that. Walton was folksy and relatable to the Americans who shopped at Walmart. Everyone could imagine Sam Walton shopping there too. But over the years, Walmart’s management has passed out of the direct hands of Walton’s family.

A few of the Walton clan remain on the Walmart Board of Directors, but now its board also includes Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo!, and Kevin Systrom, the CEO of Instagram. One would be hard pressed to imagine either as regular shoppers at Walmart. For that matter, former counselor to President George W. Bush, Dan Bartlett, is now the Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Walmart. It may be hard to imagine many of Walmart’s executive leaders being regular shoppers at Walmart.

To his credit, Walmart’s CEO Doug McMillon started out as an hourly employee within the corporation. But in the last few years, Walmart has seemed less and less the story of Americana and more and more the story of a group of elites posing as Americana.

In 2009, Walmart championed Obamacare. In fact, Walmart went so far as to sign a letter with the Service Employees International Union, a major player within Democrat politics. After Obamacare passed, Walmart promptly declared it would no longer offer health insurance to many of its part-time employees.

Recently, Walmart also led an effort to pass the so-called “Main Street Fairness Act,” which is actually legislation that would allow states to tax the internet. According to the Wall Street Journal, “The drivers of this rush to tax are Wal-Mart and other big retailers that can more easily absorb the costs of collection than can smaller competitors.”

Walmart has, over the years, become disconnected from its shoppers. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act has the support of a majority of Americans. In Arkansas it was backed overwhelmingly by the public. But Walmart has hitched its wagon to a left-leaning social agenda and intervened in Arkansas to try to kill its religious liberty legislation. Walmart hopes its shoppers will not notice and, even if they do, it is not like their shoppers can afford to go elsewhere.

That is, frankly, true. Walmart has low prices and now has rolled out grocery stores in areas of the country closer to those who need low priced groceries. But in doing so, Walmart has an Achilles heel that its shoppers and supporters should consider.

Walmart signed on to support Obamacare to keep unions at bay. When Walmart enters a market it is never conservatives or the poor who oppose Walmart. It is inevitably rich liberal environmentalists and unions. More often than not, Walmart’s grassroots strategy is to turn to preachers and conservatives to lobby on the company’s behalf.

When the environmentalist shows up to lament water runoff from all the paved surfaces in a Walmart parking lot, Walmart can send in a conservative to talk jobs, investment, and increased tax revenue. When the union comes in to lament Walmart’s labor relations, Walmart can send in the preacher to talk about the poor and the needs of the community. They have been quite effective.

Many conservatives, myself included, cancelled their accounted to Angie’s List when the company came out vocally against religious liberty legislation. Its CEO was publicly critical of Christians. The financials of the company suggest it may not be long for the world. Walmart also opposed religious liberty legislation, but did not behind the scenes with lobbyists and letters hoping the public would not notice.

Angie’s List may be impacted by a boycott. Walmart will never be hurt by a boycott and a boycott would be silly anyway. But conservatives and pastors might want to remember the next time Walmart asks them for help that Walmart has no intention of reflecting their values or helping them. Time and time again, we help Walmart only to see it back policies that hurt the middle class. We don’t need to boycott Walmart. But we don’t have to help them grow. We can consciously sideline ourselves and let Walmart figure out who its friends really are.

To find out more about Erick Erickson and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2015 CREATORS.COM

Republicans Give Tax Increases and Treat Religion as a Lesser Right

If the government wants to curtail your freedom of speech, it must have a compelling governmental interest.

If the government wants to curtail your freedom of assembly, it must have a compelling governmental interest.

Bill Clinton and a majority of Democrats and Republicans in Washington agreed that if the government wanted to curtail religious freedom, the other right in the first amendment, it needed a compelling governmental interest as well.

In Georgia today, the Republican Party has decided that the religious freedom guarantee of the first amendment is not equal with the freedoms of speech and assembly. In fact, a group of people claiming to want equality believe the free exercise of religion is a lesser value than the others in the First Amendment.

Today, in Georgia, Republicans have decided to bail on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Instead, they will foist a billion dollar tax increase on citizens, but then tell them their religious liberty is not a major right worth defending. There was going to be a special meeting at 10 o’clock this morning to resurrect the religious liberty legislation.

I was told last night, however, that a deal has been cut. Republican Governor Nathan Deal and Speaker David Ralston will scuttle protecting religious liberty and, in exchange, will be able to get enough Democrats to help them raise taxes on Georgians.

Their decision is disappointing, but it has an upside.

The Republicans most opposed to protecting religious liberty, like Republicans Beth Beskin and Wendell Willard, support the tax increase. They also happen to represent districts within the core listening area of my radio show.

For the next year, I will get to point out repeatedly that these Republicans were perfectly happy to vote for a tax increase and stabbed religious voters in the back. Mike Jacobs, the Republican who actually caused RFRA to be scuttled, is going to be rewarded with a judicial appointment by Governor Deal.

I will get to remind voters in the run up to the statewide vote on Governor Deal’s education package that he rewarded the people who stabbed faith voters in the back.

I will get to remind voters that Wendell Willard, who is old and has run unopposed, that he voted for a billion dollar tax increase and rejected protecting religious liberty.

I will get to help voters in Mike Jacobs’ district make up their mind on a replacement in a special election.

I will get to remind voters that freshman Representative Beth Beskin raised their taxes and would not protect their religious freedom.

The rejection of RFRA is unfortunate. But I suspect the next year will pay dividends for conservatives. For the first time, they’ll have a voice in drive time on radio in Atlanta willing to stand shoulder to shoulder and fight the good fight exposing these Republicans.

And then, when we bring it back in 2016, they’ll go from the General Assembly into their primaries after a year of pointing out their tax increases and their sudden shifts in 2016 trying to cover their tracks.

They may have abandoned protecting religious liberty today, but doing so will ultimately help provide the tools conservatives need to shift the Georgia GOP toward the GOP and away from Democrats who just found religion in 2002 and suddenly declared themselves Republican.

Georgia Republicans Would Force Chick-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby to Pay For Abortions

The Georgia House of Representatives is considering the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Speaker of the House, David Ralston, and the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee are deeply opposed to protecting religious liberty.

In fact, they are so opposed, they’ve created a special subcommittee in the House of Representatives and stacked it with opponents to protecting religious liberty. Tomorrow, they plan to gut the legislation. Their proposal would specifically target Christian run businesses like Hobby Lobby, Chick-Fil-A, and others and exclude them from the protections of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The Georgia State Representatives who intend to target Hobby Lobby, Chick-Fil-A, and other businesses run by Christians are:

Name

Number

Beth Beskin

404.656.0254

Johnnie Caldwell

404.656.0325

Jay Powell

404.656.5103

Wendell Willard

404.656.5125

Essentially, what these committee members, with the help of liberal Democrats, are going to attempt to do tomorrow is amend S.B. 129, the pending RFRA legislation that mirrors the federal version signed into law by Bill Clinton.

They will insert a provision that says there will be no religious liberty protection against state laws or even local ordinances related to civil rights for any Christian business unless that business is a religious non-profit.

The language specifically denies RFRA protection to businesses like Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Wood, and Chick-Fil-A. Those businesses are for profit, but they are owned by Christians who use the businesses as, essentially, ministries. They found protection under the federal version of RFRA and this amendment would strip away those very same protections.

Consequently, the state or any municipality in Georgia can then expand civil rights laws and Christian businesses will be afforded no protection. In fact, we have seen this happen around the south. Leftwing activists, particularly militant gay rights groups, are getting municipalities to pass gender identity laws so boys can use girls bathrooms, etc.

Moreover, with the left treating abortion as a civil right and Obamacare attempting to mandate Hobby Lobby, etc. provide abortifacients, Hobby Lobby and other businesses will have less protection under state law than under Obamacare.