March 18, 2016 - Friday
GA Bill a Real Peach of Work
If you're looking for a clue behind the inexplicable rise of Donald Trump and his support among "evangelicals," look no further than Georgia. It's called Republicans. In a state where protecting religious liberty is as popular as peach pie, Republican Governor Nathan Deal (R) and House Speaker David Ralston (R) are presiding over the demise of Georgian's First Freedom.
After weeks of working on HB 757, a modest bill that would have provided protections against the growing threat to religious freedom in the wake of the Supreme Court's redefinition of marriage, timid lawmakers caved to misinformation campaigns from the Left and threats from big business. The bill, which was never as strong as it should have been, is a tattered fig leaf now that House Speaker David Ralston has gutted the real protections for Georgia's men and women of faith. In this latest "compromise," only a fraction of faith-based groups and churches would be protected from the government's merciless attacks on Christians. If this measure is enacted, shop owners like Melissa Klein and public officials like Kelvin Cochran would still be left twisting in the wind while the state fires, fines, and punishes Georgians to force acceptance of same-sex marriage.
And even now, after the bill has been watered down so much that it's unrecognizable, big business is still complaining. Companies like Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Arby's, and Sales Force are either intent on strong-arming Christians or too lazy to get the facts, because all are threatening to pull out of Georgia if it won't allow the bullying of believers to continue. "Once again," Sales Force CEO tweeted, "Georgia is trying to pass laws that make it legal to discriminate." He's right. But the discrimination is against Christians. What happened to protecting minority rights, Heritage's Ryan Anderson asks. Didn't that used to be a hallmark of American tolerance? "This is yet another example of cultural cronyism. Businesses in Georgia were always free to embrace gay marriage -- to bake wedding cakes for gay marriages and make floral arrangements for same-sex nuptials -- and many do, but now they want the government to force everyone in Georgia to do the same. The hypocrisy of big business lobbying against the law is astounding. They want to be free to operate in Georgia according to their values, but they don't want small-business competitors to be free to operate according to theirs."
And here's the irony. These executives are making a stink about a bill that's actually less inclusive than the First Amendment! Religious liberty, as outlined in plain text less than a half-mile from FRC, is for every American. For Georgia to argue that religious freedom should be limited to the four walls of the church is like saying the Second Amendment only applies in gun clubs.
What's unfolding in the Peach State shows the source of true intolerance: those who want the government to punish people for freely living according to their beliefs. This is why conservative voters are sick and tired of Republicans who are lions for freedom on the campaign trail, but once in office are like de-clawed house cats. Once again, this reveals that the Left's agenda isn't about tolerance; it's about forced acceptance -- and the government is going to do the enforcing. If you live in Georgia, tell Speaker Ralston and Governor Deal you want them to protect your religious freedom.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.