Discriminatory “Religious Freedom” Bill is Bad for Our State

Mar 1, 2016

Photo credit: Associated Press

By Rev. Timothy McDonald III

I am one who believes that we must be vigilant about protecting true religious liberty, which has been a guiding principle throughout our country’s history. As the First Amendment makes clear, all people have a right to practice, or not to practice, any religion they choose. Laws that truly protect individuals’ exercise of religion prevent the government from infringing on our rights.

But the state legislature is considering a bill (HB 757) that, though framed in the language of protecting First Amendment religious freedom, at its core is about one thing: discrimination. HB 757 was recently amended and passed by the state Senate and is now being considered by the House. As Americans United explains it, the bill would allow “any individual or ‘faith-based’ business, non-profit entity, or taxpayer-funded organization to ignore any law that conflicts with their religious beliefs about marriage.” In other words, businesses and organizations could cite religion in order to refuse service to certain groups of people.

This bill could lead to any number of nightmare situations. Restaurant owners who refuse to serve same-sex or interracial couples. Domestic violence shelters that turn away unmarried mothers and their children. Adoption agencies that refuse to place a child with parents of different faiths.

It’s not the first time Georgia has considered passing a “right to discriminate” bill. Why are our state representatives wasting time, again and again, pushing legislation that would harm Georgians and threaten to drive businesses out of the state? The bill’s sponsor even admitted last week that the legislation could protect the Ku Klux Klan as a “faith-based” organization. This bill is too extreme for Georgia, plain and simple.


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8 comments on “Discriminatory “Religious Freedom” Bill is Bad for Our State

  • 1
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    When even a clergy member disapproves of a “religious freedom” bill, you know there’s a problem. First Kentucky and now Georgia. Taxpayer money hard at work to bring civilization backward a century or two. 🙁



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  • @OP – It’s not the first time Georgia has considered passing a “right to discriminate” bill. Why are our state representatives wasting time, again and again, pushing legislation that would harm Georgians and threaten to drive businesses out of the state?

    The obvious answer is the determination of their god-delusions to inflict their “beliefs” on everyone else!
    It also diverts attention and agenda time from the things they are failing to do!

    The bill’s sponsor even admitted last week that the legislation could protect the Ku Klux Klan as a “faith-based” organization.

    Well yes! They have strongly held “faith-beliefs” too!

    Perhaps Moon Landing deniers should be given the “right” to refuse services to NASA employees and astronauts!
    After all, their “beliefs” are deeply and sincerely held, so that must make it OK (allegedly)!



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  • 3
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    @alan4discussion

    Perhaps Moon Landing deniers should be given the “right” to refuse services to NASA employees and astronauts!
    After all, their “beliefs” are deeply and sincerely held, so that must make it OK (allegedly)!

    Ha! Good one… and a pretty good analogy too. To me, it clearly shows how this kind of legislation can open a huge Pandora’s box. It may sound far fetched to some but in a world where a significant number of people believe that 4000 years ago, humans rode dinosaurs (and they even had saddles!), I don’t rule anything out.



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  • Well, the good Reverend hit the nail on the head.

    Every single Republican candidate except Kasich seemed like they would be willing to support a bill like this. Religious freedom in this context is a monstrous distortion of the original meaning of freedom of religion as it is presented in the Bill of Rights, and is, once again, a manipulation of language. The Republicans are good at manipulating language. (Case in point: “Pro-Life”.) This is one of the tools in the tool-box of propagandists. Insidious and dangerous.

    When asked in a debate about “religious freedom” by one of the panelists a couple of weeks ago (a panelist who said that it was an issue “close to his heart”) they all said that they supported it. Except Kasich. However, he is wishy-washy: Mr. Reasonable (who is actually very reactionary), when asked again the other night, took the opportunity to ask the viewers why we all have to sue each other. Let’s not sue each other, he said. Let’s be reasonable.

    Well if this bill ever gets passed I hope everyone exercises their right to be treated with dignity and respect and not as a second class citizen, or worse, a degenerate, and sues the hell out of any business owner who violates this right.

    This bill could lead to any number of nightmare situations.

    That’s right. What if a Christian Scientist store owner or restaurant owner refuses to serve someone who has annual physicals?

    This is one of the worst, most terrifying bills I’ve ever heard of.

    Finally, we need to address, make people more aware of, this whole business of the manipulation of language. The Republican party hires people to come up with these misleading phrases.



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  • Are US laws required to have names that are the complete opposite of their intent? Like 1984 NewSpeak from the Ministry of Truth? PATRIOT Act, etc. Or does it just turn out that way because that’s what the marketing department is good at?



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  • Surely this will be appealed before the US Supreme Court. I may not understand the finer points of the US Constitution, but it seems a State legislature has enacted a law that allows one religion to impose their beliefs on another person, or religion. There is no reason why this bill couldn’t be used by the local christian (And it’s always the christians who want this sort of stuff) 7/11 store to ban Sihk’s with their turbans and long beards from buying Pringles.

    Does the US constitution make the separation of church and state absolute, or is there some wiggle room. Can a state House even make a law, any law, that references religion?

    All too confusing.



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  • @ david-r-allen

    I probably know less about the U.S. Constitution than most people, but my assumption is that it’s all in the wording. I don’t think the bill discussed above is constitutional, but what people don’t realize is that lawyers and lawmakers can make it constitutional. They can twist and bend and render the original ideas meaningless. But, it is also mentally impossible, in my opinion, not to interpret the constitution.

    To establish definitively and permanently the “original intentions” or “the one true meaning” of the original authors vis-à-vis a given clause or amendment or section or phrase or word, is not always possible. It may never be. We need to come to terms with this. This is good or bad depending on who’s doing the interpreting.

    Interpreting and distorting the Constitution happens on a continuous basis. So those Republicans who are always talking about obeying the constitution are really saying: obey my interpretation, or this or that clause based on these words, not those.

    I heard a very lengthy debate about the Second Amendment. All the lawyers were very skillful. Someone named Dellinger was the best, I thought, but he lost. It’s almost like a game. It shouldn’t be, but it is.

    There is something called the Equal Protection Clause, but that is about as solid as the separation of Church and State. There is all too much wiggle room – for better and mostly for worse.



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