joined the coalition Clergy United Against Discrimination and pledged their defiant opposition to the rash of religious exemptions bills currently under consideration in Georgia, saying they’re unnecessary and would cause more harm than good.

Ultimately, the so-called “religious freedom” bills—eight of which were circulating the Capitol at one point this year—would open the door to LGBT discrimination in the state of Georgia under the guise of protecting freedoms that are already well safeguarded by both the Constitution of the United States and Georgia’s state constitution.

Faith-4 Twitter

In short, members of Georgia’s faith communities don’t think their religious freedom needs further protecting. And they certainly don’t support legislation that purports to advance religious liberties at the price of LGBT discrimination.

Until recently, it seemed lawmakers were content ignoring the voices of the very people whose rights they purport to be protecting.

Then late last week, Governor Nathan Deal gave his most definitive statement on the religious freedom debate to date. Himself a devout Baptist, Gov. Deal cited his faith as a primary reason why he would reject any legislation that would give the perception that Georgia allows discrimination:

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.

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. But we don’t have to discriminate against other people in order to do that.

Today, a small group of these faith leaders from across the state held a press conference at the Capitol to thank Governor Deal for his admirable leadership on this divisive issue.

 

“As a pastor & Christian I want to thank @GovernorDeal for his discipleship and example” Rev McGinnis pic.twitter.com/s6tWfzUarb

— Georgia Equality (@GAEquality) March 8, 2016

“We don’t need other laws to protect our religious liberties.” Rev Josh Noblitt #gapol

— Georgia Equality (@GAEquality) March 8, 2016

Rabbi Heller: I come today with a special gratitude for @GovernorDeal The people owe him a debt of gratitude #gapol pic.twitter.com/JYvpcfILFl

— Georgia Equality (@GAEquality) March 8, 2016

For many Georgians, like Governor Deal, their faith doesn’t detract from their support for LGBT non-discrimination—it very much informs it.

In a Huffington Post blog, Baptist Reverend Timothy McDonald wrote, “Many faiths, including my own, teach that we should fight for the oppressed.” He went on to call lawmakers’ use of religion as a weapon for legislative assaults against gay and transgender Georgians an “insult” to his faith principles.

Vener_20081025-0009.dngFor other faith leaders, like Rabbi Peter Berg of the Temple of Atlanta, LGBT non-discrimination is important for protecting his gay and transgender congregants from unfair treatment and harm. It’s not a political issue at all—it’s just “the right thing to do.”

Across the board, leaders from every faith denomination agree that religious freedom is not under threat. In fact, Reverend Alyssa Aldape of the First Baptist Church of Dalton expressed concern that “religious freedom” bills would actually blur the line between church and state, thereby undermining the iron-clad protections currently outlined in the Constitution. In other words, the very legislation lawmakers’ insist is designed to increase religious protections could have the exact opposite effect.

IMG_1585The fact is support for LGBT non-discrimination protections are at an all-time high—while support for religious exemptions that allow for discrimination are at a low. As clergy emphasized at today’s press event, if lawmakers truly have the best interest of Georgia’s faith communities at heart, they should “push for comprehensive civil rights legislation that protects all Georgians from discrimination.”

Now is the time for legislators to examine their faiths, reach across the aisle, and protect the liberties of all Georgians.

If you agree with the strong majority of Georgians and more than 300 faith leaders who think it is time for lawmakers to drop the divisive and discriminatory “religious freedom” bills and pass non-discrimination legislation, click here to send a quick message to your legislators today.

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Pt 1: Life University’s Women’s Rugby Team Uses Tournament Game to Raise Awareness About LGBT Equality Women's Rugby Team ~ Marietta, GA
Faith Leaders Applaud Governor Deal’s Religious Grounds for Rejecting LGBT Discrimination March 8, 2016

More than 300 clergy have now joined the coalition Clergy United Against Discrimination and pledged their defiant opposition to the rash of religious exemptions bills currently under consideration in Georgia, saying they’re unnecessary and would cause more harm than good.

Ultimately, the so-called “religious freedom” bills—eight of which were circulating the Capitol at one point this year—would open the door to LGBT discrimination in the state of Georgia under the guise of protecting freedoms that are already well safeguarded by both the Constitution of the United States and Georgia’s state constitution.

Faith-4 Twitter

In short, members of Georgia’s faith communities don’t think their religious freedom needs further protecting. And they certainly don’t support legislation that purports to advance religious liberties at the price of LGBT discrimination.

Until recently, it seemed lawmakers were content ignoring the voices of the very people whose rights they purport to be protecting.

Then late last week, Governor Nathan Deal gave his most definitive statement on the religious freedom debate to date. Himself a devout Baptist, Gov. Deal cited his faith as a primary reason why he would reject any legislation that would give the perception that Georgia allows discrimination:

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.

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. But we don’t have to discriminate against other people in order to do that.

Today, a small group of these faith leaders from across the state held a press conference at the Capitol to thank Governor Deal for his admirable leadership on this divisive issue.

 

For many Georgians, like Governor Deal, their faith doesn’t detract from their support for LGBT non-discrimination—it very much informs it.

In a Huffington Post blog, Baptist Reverend Timothy McDonald wrote, “Many faiths, including my own, teach that we should fight for the oppressed.” He went on to call lawmakers’ use of religion as a weapon for legislative assaults against gay and transgender Georgians an “insult” to his faith principles.

Vener_20081025-0009.dngFor other faith leaders, like Rabbi Peter Berg of the Temple of Atlanta, LGBT non-discrimination is important for protecting his gay and transgender congregants from unfair treatment and harm. It’s not a political issue at all—it’s just “the right thing to do.”

Across the board, leaders from every faith denomination agree that religious freedom is not under threat. In fact, Reverend Alyssa Aldape of the First Baptist Church of Dalton expressed concern that “religious freedom” bills would actually blur the line between church and state, thereby undermining the iron-clad protections currently outlined in the Constitution. In other words, the very legislation lawmakers’ insist is designed to increase religious protections could have the exact opposite effect.

IMG_1585The fact is support for LGBT non-discrimination protections are at an all-time high—while support for religious exemptions that allow for discrimination are at a low. As clergy emphasized at today’s press event, if lawmakers truly have the best interest of Georgia’s faith communities at heart, they should “push for comprehensive civil rights legislation that protects all Georgians from discrimination.”

Now is the time for legislators to examine their faiths, reach across the aisle, and protect the liberties of all Georgians.

If you agree with the strong majority of Georgians and more than 300 faith leaders who think it is time for lawmakers to drop the divisive and discriminatory “religious freedom” bills and pass non-discrimination legislation, click here to send a quick message to your legislators today.

Twitter Icon@GeorgiaUnites

We were so grateful to be able to profile Rachel last year. Her story is inspiring and it's sad to see her treated unfairly. Thank you Rachel for standing up for yourself! bit.ly/2VTK7j3

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