The so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Acts could have real consequences for the people of Georgia. If passed into law, RFRA could allow individuals and private businesses to ignore any laws that they claim conflict with their religious beliefs including non-discrimination laws.
In states that have already passed RFRA, individuals used this law to claim that laws protecting against child abuse, medical access, discrimination against LGBT people, domestic violence and public safety didn’t apply to them because they were in violation of their religious beliefs.
For instance, in Utah, two members of a fundamentalist offshoot of the Mormon faith testified in a Salt Lake City courtroom that their church doctrine barred them from speaking about suspected child labor violations on their pecan farm.
Federal authorities stated that in 2012, group leaders left phone messages for members telling up to 1,400 children to take off of school to help harvest pecans along the Utah-Arizona border. The two brothers, Nephi and Lyle Jeffs, were taken to court.
“I feel like I would be breaking confidences if I discuss the workings of the church,” said Nephi Jeffs.
The judge, US District Judge David Sam, decided their religious beliefs were legitimate on the grounds of the RFRA in their state.
These children should be learning in school to build the future of America, not working illegally on a pecan farm. Thanks to RFRA, an injustice that was resolved distantly in the past has been brought back in Utah.
Then in Michigan, a pediatrician refused to treat a lesbian couple’s six-day-old baby. Jami and Krista Contreras were sitting in the waiting room, when the pediatrician told them that after “much prayer,” she decided that she could not treat their baby because they are lesbians.
This pediatrician was able to refuse this child on the grounds of the state’s RFRA law. Krista wrote about the incident in a Facebook post, saying that the pediatrician “was well aware that we were lesbian moms. We canceled meetings with other pediatricians because we were happy with her. Now our little girl was six days old, and we were in a room with a doctor we have never met, feeling pretty humiliated, distraught and hurt.”
Along with members of the LGBT community being refused medical care, cities that pass RFRA will negate non-discrimination ordinances in these cities, like Atlanta, that protect workers from being fired, denied housing, or refused service, because they are gay or transgender. LGBT people work hard to earn and living and find a place to settle down and spend their lives, just like everyone else. We can all agree that is a value that should be lived out in Georgia.
But it doesn’t stop there. In certain instances, individuals have used state RFRA laws to justify abusing their family members. An advocate against domestic violence wrote “Too often in our history, religion has been used as a justification for the abuse of women and children, often by family members.”
Public safety is a concern for us all. Feeling safe in our home state is one of the many reasons why we stay in Georgia to raise families and build a career, and it could be jeopardized by the passage of RFRA.
In Oklahoma, a police officer cited RFRA as his reason to not to report to a community event hosted by a local Islamic Society. Government authorities could use religion to not face many issues like this that are vital to our safety.
The bottom line is that passing RFRA in Georgia would have extremely negative unintended consequences for the community, and would jeopardize the current standard of living we currently enjoy in this state. Join us in fighting RFRA, because without your help, lawmakers will allow this legislation to become a reality.SHARE THIS STORY