The Atlanta Journal Constitution wrote an editorial on April 2 the final day of the 2015 legislative session, urging Georgia lawmakers to reject the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
The editorial begins stating that Georgia should bury the bill and never look back, because: “to do otherwise is to raise too risky a proposition that the moral wrong of discrimination will once again surface—clearly stamped with government’s approval. That prospect would batter Constitutional guarantees of liberty as surely as the bill’s proponents contend that freedom of religion is somehow currently under attack.”
“The Georgia General Assembly must tread lightly in this delicate and treacherous work of balancing conflicting understandings of individual rights. If lawmakers get it wrong, they risk doing much more harm than good. This is a time for conservative politicians to remind themselves of the dangers of government meddling.”
The AJC continued by referring to the recent RFRA bills passed in both Indiana and Arkansas, and the enormous backlash that has ensued, especially after Indiana’s bill was signed into law by Governor Mike Pence:
“Consider the now well-battered states of Indiana and Arkansas, which chose to pass religious freedom laws. It takes only the most cursory of glances at the predictable economic fallout thundering down this week on Hoosiers and Razorbacks to see the potential for damage that lies ahead if Georgia persists in pursuing a similar path of divisiveness, and not collaboration.”
In Indiana, the RFRA bill was amended by the legislature to include nondiscrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations for gay and transgender Hoosiers after numerous companies and organizations condemned the bill. Governor Asa Hutchinson sent back the Arkansas bill to the legislature after it passed.
The AJC believes that the Freedom of Religion is one of the most fundamental rights in the Constitution, and that there is no need to fix it in Georgia. The editorial referenced Pope Francis from a 2013 discussion of gay Catholics, when he famously remarked, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
To further drive the point, the AJC condemned the mixing of church and state: “These are matters best left to debate and interpretation in houses of worship, and not halls of legislative assembly. For it is inescapable that disputes over Biblical precepts will remain with us always. And that’s okay in a secular society that welcomes practitioners of many faiths, or no faith at all.”
The AJC joins Georgia organizations and major businesses such as Coca-Cola, the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau and MailChimp in opposing this harmful legislation. Public figures such as Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Elton John and Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry have all stood out in opposition as well.
The Georgia RFRA bill currently sits in the General Assembly, which adjourns at midnight tonight. Don’t let legislators pass this misguided legislation!SHARE THIS STORY