In a powerful editorial, the Augusta Chronicle slammed the proposed Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), writing on March 20 that although the freedom of religion is a crucial piece of our country’s foundation, religious liberty should not give individuals the ability to cause harm to others.
RFRA (Senate Bill 129) is a proposed bill by Sen. John McKoon that, as the Chronicle argues, “could irrationally extend ‘religious freedom’ protection to people who discriminate against others because of their beliefs,” and is currently awaiting consideration in the Georgia House.
“We’re worried his well-meaning shield could be turned into a sword, enabling people to deny business services or justifying spousal abuse through [faith].”
The lack of specific language clarifying that RFRA could not erode existing civil rights protections and potential chaos of lawsuits that could ensue lead the Chronicle to agree that RFRA is bad for Georgia..Two prominent conservative politicians seemingly agree.
House Speaker David Ralston said that he feels “absolutely protected” by the state and federal constitution which clearly enumerates religious freedom as a fundamental right. He asked, “If a constitutional guarantee is not sufficient, then what is this bill, this statute, going to do that our constitution doesn’t do?”
Similarly, the Chronicle pulled a quote from Former Republican Attorney General Michael Bowers’ formal analysis of the bill, in which he states that SB 129 is “bad for all Georgians of good faith, or for that matter, of any faith whatsoever. It is not just bad public policy; it is ill-conceived, unnecessary, mean-spirited and deserving of a swift death in the General Assembly.”
The Chronicle believes that the freedom of religion has been enjoyed in Georgia since the state’s beginning, so therefore SB 129 is unnecessary. “If there are Georgians suffering from religious discrimination who feel they have fewer protections than people in neighboring states, we’d like to meet them. Frankly, we’re not seeing them.”
The Chronicle concluded by saying, “SB 129 is a solution we don’t need in search of a problem that doesn’t exist. Legislators should treat it accordingly.”
The view of the Augusta Chronicle, a self-described conservative publication, represents the stance many other Georgia Republicans are beginning to adopt: SB 129 seeks to fix a problem that does not exist, and passing this bill could threaten the reputation and business standing of Georgia. Speak out now against SB 129 and make your voice heard!SHARE THIS STORY