Georgia Lawmakers Pass Religious Liberty Bill Protecting Pastors, Faith-Based Organizations

Photo Credit: Ken Lund

ATLANTA — Lawmakers in Georgia have passed a bill providing legal protection to pastors and other religious organizations who object to same-sex “marriage,” sending the measure to the Republican governor, who has asserted that such proposals are discriminatory unChristian.

As previously reported, legislators recently combined H.B. 757,  also known as the Pastor Protection Act, with S.B. 284, the First Amendment Defense Act of Georgia. The Pastor Protection Act unanimously passed the Georgia House, finding support among Democrats and Republicans alike.

“No minister of the gospel or cleric or religious practitioner ordained or authorized to solemnize marriages, perform rites, or administer sacraments according to the usages of the denomination … in violation of his or her right to free exercise of religion under the Constitution of this state or the United States,” it reads in part.

The First Amendment Act of Georgia mandates that “[g]overnment shall not take any discriminatory action against wholly or partially on the basis that such person believes, speaks or acts in accordance with a sincerely-held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.”

It also states that faith-based non-profit organizations cannot be forced to hire those whose beliefs and behaviors conflict with the entity, and that such organizations have a right to decline to host objectionable events.

Adjustments had been made to the proposal prior to passage, such as the notation that no person should be compelled to attend a same-sex ceremony.

“There’s been a lot of time and a lot of effort from a lot of sources to get this bill where it is today,” sponsor Sen. Greg Kirk, R-Americus, a former Baptist minister, told the Atlanta Constitution-Journal. “The leadership has been shown by the Georgia General Assembly that it leads the nation in dealing with the definition of marriage.”

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But according to reports, over 300 U.S. corporations and small businesses have signed on to a petition in opposition of the bill. Microsoft, Google, Delta Airlines, Coca-Cola and Home Depot are all against the bill as they claim that it will have an adverse affect on the economy.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, a professing Christian known for the firing of fire chief Kelvin Cochran over his book listing homosexuality among other sexual behaviors considered perverse in God’s law, has likewise expressed his opposition.

“I can’t express the amount of damage that is being done to Atlanta and Georgia’s reputation as the business center and cultural center of the Southeast,” he told reporters. “I’m not going to pretend that this bill or the amendments to the bill will mitigate the terrible harm that is being done to our city, our region, our state by this legislation.”

The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Nathan Deal, who is expected to face pressure to veto the measure. Deal, who identifies as Southern Baptist and attends First Baptist Church of Gainesville, has suggested that religious freedom bills may be unChristian because of his perception that they permit discrimination.

“I think 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 and said to those of belief, ‘This is what I want you to do,’” he said at a ribbon cutting ceremony earlier this month. “We do not have a belief—in my way of looking at religion—that says we have to discriminate against anybody. If you were to apply those standards to the teaching of Jesus, I don’t think they fit.”

“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,” Deal continued. “But we don’t have to discriminate against other people in order to do that.”

But not everyone sees the bill as being discriminatory.

“The First Amendment and the free exercise of religious beliefs is an essential part of our democracy. It deserves the utmost respect and protection,” said Lieutenant Gov. Casey Cagle. “This legislation does just that and protects these freedoms.”


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  • Paige Turner

    Disgraceful and unnecessary

    • Amos Moses

      “Anti-hate” liberals are the most hateful people imaginable………..

      • Paige Turner

        Legalised discrimination. These people should be ashamed of themselves.

        • Oboehner

          LOL, discrimination against a choice, ROFL.

          • Paige Turner

            Christianity is a choice.

            This is disgraceful pice of legislation which harms innocent people and will be overturned by SCOTUS when challenged.

          • Oboehner

            Christianity is a constitutionally protected choice.
            Perverts being unable to push their sickness on people of faith harms people, what manner of fantasyland are you from? Gays own actions do more harm to each other than this piece of legislation ever would.

          • Gott Mit Uns!

            A constitutionally protected choice? Ah, so you do care about laws after all, as long as it benefits you.

          • Oboehner

            Back at ya.

          • Paige Turner

            You’re a real wordsmith with clever responses like that.

          • Oboehner

            Fitting simplicity.

          • Paige Turner

            Yes, you are simple thats for sure.

          • Oboehner

            You’re a real wordsmith with clever responses like that.

          • Paige Turner

            Fitting simplicity.

          • Oboehner

            Yes, you are simple thats[sic] for sure.

          • Paige Turner

            So you’re the smartest surviving sperm that came out of your Daddy’s dick that night you were conceived.

            I bet he now wished he had just jerked off instead.

          • Oboehner

            Real brilliance there.

          • Paige Turner

            Freedom of religion and freedom from religion is protected.

            Christianity is not mentioned in the constitution anywhere. Bearing false witness is sin. Careful with that.

            Your judgement and condescension is nothing but ill informed hyperbole deigned to harm a minority. Shame on you.

          • Oboehner

            Christianity is considered a religion. “Freedom from religion” is also a religion, it is a belief on the same topic as any other religion – it just believes the negative.
            Your acceptance and willful ignorance of a mental disorder is nothing but flagrant denial which withholds much needed help from the one suffering from it. Shame on you.

          • Paige Turner

            Freedom from religion is not a religion. Good try but no.
            Atheism is also not a religion.

            Freedom from religion is protected by the constitution.

            As to your other assertions – these are nonsense. You are in no position to be making judgements abut a minority that you know nothing about. You have no facts, no proof of anything. Nothing but ignorant, impotent rage against a minority. Disgraceful.

          • Oboehner

            “Freedom from religion is protected by the constitution.” Good try but no.
            There is nobody on earth that doesn’t have a religious belief, therefore “freedom from religion” is a misnomer.
            As to your other assertions – these are nonsense. You have no facts, no proof of anything. Nothing but ignorant, impotent rage against people of Christian faith. Disgraceful.

          • Paige Turner

            You’re simply projecting your theocratic world view.

            A world free from religion would be a much better and more peaceful place as would a world without you.

            Cutting and pasting really proves that you have nothing of any value to add.

          • Oboehner

            You’re simply projecting your sexually deviant world view.

            A world free from sexual nut-jobs would be a much better and more peaceful place as would a world without you.

            Cutting and pasting really proves that you are every bit as bad as you attempt to paint others.

          • Paige Turner

            Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Thank you.

            You’re also a brain dead dolt who cannot respond with anything original or coherent. Typical GOP supporter.

          • Oboehner

            Laughable coming from a bleeding heart touchy feely transgender party supporter.

          • Charisma Bowden

            I dont see Paige Turner suppoting the biggest child molesting institution known as religion here.

            Go pray for religious leader to stop raping children instead of condoming it all in the name of some twisted homicidal maniac you call GOD

          • Oboehner

            Again, wrong tree, I’m not catholic.
            But do you see Paige Turner suppoting the biggest infanticide-for-profit institution?

          • Charisma Bowden

            Stop just blaming the Catholic Church cos every religion has hidden pedophiles and you are proof of that

          • Charisma Bowden

            He just supports child molesters in his church yet bags gays…Jesus would be so proud….Not

          • Paige Turner

            Its sad that they think like this. What an awful way to live.
            To be fearful of things and people they don’t understand and spreading hateful messages about a harmless minority must be a burden and hard for their partners to cope with.
            It’s deeply troubling behaviour.

          • Charisma Bowden

            So is your laxk of chikd sex anuse within religion.

            I have evolved past the 11th Centuary and dont believe in any of the homicidal maniac man made religions so again you are full of shit and suffer from a religious persecution complex and think you’re Jesus….

          • Oboehner

            “laxk of chikd sex anuse ” In English please, and be sure to pay attention, I’m not catholic.

          • Charisma Bowden

            I make errors like everyone just like twisted pedo protectors and people like you who have a massiah complex….go check the edit….KAPEESH….

          • Charisma Bowden

            Beats molesting children and covering it up for decades

          • Oboehner

            Yet again, I am not catholic.

          • Charisma Bowden

            You may not be a Catholic but you are a pedophile cos not once have you defended the victims of clergy abuse

          • Oboehner

            When exactly did I do that, or are you just another desperate liar?

          • Charisma Bowden

            Yet you suppot the sickness of pedophile condoning religion…says a lot about you…..

          • Oboehner

            Sorry, wrong tree.

          • Charisma Bowden

            You support child molesting sin so stop denying it….if you didnt you wouldnt be going to that pedophile comdoning sin cave church every sunday

          • Oboehner

            Again, wrong tree – I’m not catholic.

          • Charisma Bowden

            So do pedophile priests in EVERY religion….when you clean up your churches child molesting sin then you can judge the sins of others.

            You make choices to either report it to the police or protect the pedophile and we know religions dont report it.

            Keep protecting pedos in your church….

          • Gott Mit Uns!

            Dumbest post I’ve read all day.

        • Amos Moses

          And yet here you are trying to do just that, discriminate……..

      • Josey

        No doubt for they sure think on it a lot and talk about it as if they are above everyone else. They should take that log out of their own eye before trying to take the little splinter out of someone else.

      • TheKingOfRhye

        Says the guy who tells me that I (and a whole lot of other people) have no morals whatsoever.

        • Amos Moses

          That is what makes them hateful. Look, it is not “hateful” to tell you the truth. It only sounds that way to people who are amoral. Amoral does not mean you do not know right from wrong, but you then do not know how to apply that knowledge,

          • TheKingOfRhye

            Just show me where I particularly am being hateful. Just because I disagree completely with you, and have a different viewpoint does not mean I’m being hateful. And by the same token, because I have some different ideas of what is and isn’t moral than you doesn’t mean I don’t HAVE morals.

          • Amos Moses

            “And by the same token, because I have some different ideas of what is and isn’t moral than you doesn’t mean I don’t HAVE morals.”

            There are no “different ideas” about morality. It does not change by person or their “feelings”. No, the problem lies in the rejection of the standard of morality and its basis, for a different standard with no basis that can not be defined by anything other than “feelings”. There is no foundation for “feelings”, and it is therefore amoral.

          • TheKingOfRhye

            Here we go again….you’re using a different definition of a word than I am, aren’t you?

            Merriam-Webster’s (and my) definition of morality: “beliefs about what is right behavior and what is wrong behavior.” Key word there – beliefs. People have different beliefs, surely you must at least admit that, right?

          • Amos Moses

            Just because you have different beliefs does not mean anything. On what are they based?…. Most post-moderns, as yourself, seem to think you can just make it up as you go…. NO, it is NOT the samething… it is completely different…. and it is not covered by the same definition.

  • Catherine Neill

    Unfortunately, this is necessary to protect Christians’ rights. Jesus welcomed all, but we are also told not to put our pearls before swine. We should welcome the lost, but not allow their deviant behavior to change our beliefs; either they accept our tenants – as they expect us to accept theirs – or they can work / do business elsewhere….that is part of the definition of ‘freedom’

    • Gary Metzger

      very well said!

    • Paige Turner

      It is not the fundamental message of Christianity. I dont remeber reading anything about “Refuse service to thy neighbour” in the bible.

    • Gott Mit Uns!

      Belief is one thing. Demonstrating certain behaviors because of that belief is something else. Plenty of Christian businesses cater to both heterosexual and homosexual customers, proof that discriminating against the gay community is not a requirement of Christianity.

    • gizmo23

      It was those uppity negros that started this civil righrs stuff. They should have found other places to work and shop or use the bathroom and drinking fountains

      • Josey

        This has nothing to do with civil rights and you very well know it, this is about the freedom to express your religion or faith in God. It’s ppl like you who keep playing the race card and are bigots, I don’t know one Christian who sees the color of a person’s skin but they just see another human being but you on the other hand keep bringing it up so you must be a racist.

        • gizmo23

          You are correct civil rights have nothing to do with the constitution that you claim to like. People that disagree with you should just leave.

        • gizmo23

          I’ve been blocked!

        • acontraryview

          “this is about the freedom to express your religion or faith in God.”

          Actually, it has nothing to do with that. People are already to free to express their religion, provided that doing so does not violate the law. This is expressly being done to give legal protection to people who want to discriminate against gay couples.

          “I don’t know one Christian who sees the color of a person’s skin but they just see another human being”

          Just because you do not know them, doesn’t mean they do not exist, which they clearly do.

          “but you on the other hand keep bringing it up so you must be a racist.”

          How so?

        • Charisma Bowden

          They may not have an issue with people of color but majority of pedophile comdoning religious freaks bag gays!!!

    • acontraryview

      “Unfortunately, this is necessary to protect Christians’ rights.”

      What rights?

      • Josey

        uh, the right to express freedom of religion which in our Christian faith includes not going against God’s word and our God given conscience which would harm the Christian.

        • acontraryview

          Well, actually, what the 1st Amendment says is that Congress will pass no law prohibiting the expression of religious belief. What that means is, for example, that Congress cannot pass a law which makes Islam illegal, or Buddhism illegal.

          It does NOT mean that people are free to exercise their religion in any way, at any time, or in place, they care to.

          In what way are you prohibited from “not going against God’s work and our God given conscience which would harm the Christian”?

        • Charisma Bowden

          I get you are 12 however freedom of religion means you can worship any pedo God you want…..nothing more so drop the persecution complex….

    • acontraryview

      So then you would support a repeal of the Civil Rights Act, as well as all other civil rights and anti-discrimination legislation, including the provisions that prohibit discrimination based upon religious belief, yes?

    • Gott Mit Uns!

      Belief is one thing. Demonstrating certain behaviors because of that belief is something else. Plenty of Christian businesses cater to both heterosexual and homosexual customers, proof that discriminating against the gay community is not a requirement of Christianity.

    • ireaddaily

      Your rights are more than protected. This law is allowing discrimination. The only way that I would somewhat agree with it is if all businesses that plan on taking advantage of their new right to discriminate are mandated to post a large sign on the door advising potential clients of their views. That way, potential clients can exercise their right to determine whether or not they want to do business with intolerant, self righteous, narrow minded people. I sure wouldn’t go into an establishment that refuses to serve anyone based on sexual orientation, race, or religious preference.

    • Charisma Bowden

      You are part of a deviant child molesting cult and freedom of religion means you are free to believe in what ever pedophile condoning God you wish doesnt mean you can take others rights away.

      When you stop being a twisted religious mean spirited bitch by not condoning the sins of the church then maybe you can judge the sins of others!!!

  • http://4christcrowncovenant.wordpress.com/ Angela Wittman

    It’s a shame, but this type of legislation is needed in post Christian America. Hats off to the legislature in Georgia! Well done!

    • Paige Turner

      It is completely unnecessary and discriminatory. It will be challenged and will not stand.

      • acontraryview

        it’s doubtful that, given the laws of Georgia, the legislation will not stand. There is no violation of state law nor federal law in this instance. With that said, it is unlikely that the Governor will sign the legislation and further doubtful that their are enough votes for an override.

        • Guest

          No the SCOTUS ruled that laws that are biased against a religious practice are unconstitutional in 1993 in the case of a town trying to prevent religious sacrifice of goats. Same sex marriages are just as much a religious practices as that, the government can’t pass a law that targets them for or against.

          If the legislators want to open the Pandora’s Box of legal religious discrimination they will have to open the lid all the way, they can’t just poke holes in it for the things they want.

          • acontraryview

            How would two citizens of the same gender entering into civil marriage be a ‘religious practice”?

          • Guest

            Hmmm, many marriages are religious no matter the sexes of the couple. my husband is a minister that did over 50 the year and a bit after marriage equality passed.

            I attended my first religious-only same-sex wedding in Washington state in the late 1970’s.

            Faiths believe God blesses marriages regardless of ‘male nor female’, just as valid as those that believe are limited to certain sexes. Government can’t take sides and a law that gives special discrimination rights to just one view is unconstitutional.

    • acontraryview

      “needed” in what sense? Why do we “need” legalized discrimination?

    • Charisma Bowden

      When religions clean up their own filthy child molesting sins then they can judge the sins of others.

      You are a nasty bitch and if there is a gwll you are heading straight for it!!!

  • Gary Metzger

    The governor is simply spinning nonsense. It’s patently wrong to force someone to violate their conscience. It’s also wrong to force good and decent people out of business as has happened around the country, and who’s kidding who? These people were targeted by gay extremists looking for publicity, fame and MONEY, and people like Deal are the PROBLEM, because they don’t have the courage of their convictions. Sorry, Governor, but a caterer should NOT have to cater a gay wedding, especially since gays have no intention of honoring traditional monogamy, but have proven with throuples, etc, they intend to make a farce out of this wonderful institution and of the normative, traditional family. Shame on you Governor if you stand in the way of passing this bill….

    • Paige Turner

      None of those things happened. That is bearing false witness as are the awful things that you are saying about other humans whom you know nothing about. Shame on you!

      Providing a service is not participation.

      This law will be challenged and will be overturned.

    • acontraryview

      “It’s patently wrong to force someone to violate their conscience. ”

      The decision to open a business is s choice. The decision regarding what products and services the business will offer is a choice. There is no “forcing”.

      “It’s also wrong to force good and decent people out of business as has happened around the country”

      Examples?

      “they intend to make a farce out of this wonderful institution and of the normative, traditional family.”

      it seems that opposite gender couples have done a pretty good job of that already.

      • kahy

        I think a sign out front of the church or business should take care of it…and what happened to the law that if you preach politics you lose your tax exempt status…let’s get that going.

        • Charisma Bowden

          Every twisted religion should be taxed on their vile billion $ tax free pedophile fund and none of them should be allowed in any govermebt world wide cos then we would see harsher penalties for pedophile priests….its the pedo religious lobbiest in politics that help protect pedos and religions getting taxed….

    • Charisma Bowden

      Didnt stop the church from violating children though…dont see you having a problem with that……

  • Gott Mit Uns!

    When a gay couple brings a lawsuit against a so-called Christian-owned business because of discrimination, this is labeled as Christian persecution.

    When a gay couple foregoes legal action and takes to social media to air their complaints of discrimination at the hands of a so-called Christian-owned business, this is labeled as Christian persecution.

    When business owners in Mississippi exercise their freedoms by placing signage in their shop windows that reads “We Do Not Discriminate,” this is labeled as Christian persecution.

    Anyone else see a pattern here?

  • acontraryview

    Such an odd bill. I mean, if they were truly concerned about individuals not having to participate in any marriage ceremony that was against a person’s religious beliefs, why limit it to just marriage between two people of the same gender? Why not allow people who have a sincerely held religious belief that two people of different race should not marry to discriminate in that regard? Or people who have a sincerely held religious belief that two people of different faiths should not marry? Or if they have a sincerely held religious belief that no one should marry who does not take their vows before the Christian god? Or if they have a sincerely held religious belief that the wife is subservient to the husband, and refuse service is the wife is keeping her own name? Or if they have a sincerely held religious belief that people who have been previously divorced for reasons other than adultery should not be allowed to remarry?

    It seems their concern about individuals participating in a wedding event is limited only to one where the two people are of the same gender. Therefore, to present this bill as one which protects religious liberty is very disingenuous. This is nothing more than legalizing discrimination based upon sexual orientation.

    • TheKingOfRhye

      “The First Amendment Act of Georgia mandates that “[g]overnment shall not
      take any discriminatory action against wholly or partially on the basis
      that such person believes, speaks or acts in accordance with a
      sincerely-held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or
      should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman or that
      sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.””

      That says it right there, doesn’t it? That they’re just discriminating against sexual orientation. If they were concerned about everyone’s “sincerely-held religious belief”, the part about “one man and one woman” wouldn’t be necessary, would it?

      Anyway, I don’t think this will go through (be vetoed by the governor), only because……

      “NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit
      discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation,
      or any other improper standard. Whether the laws and regulations of a
      state and local community are consistent with these policies would be
      one of many factors NFL owners may use to evaluate potential Super Bowl
      host sites.” – statement by the NFL to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta is bidding to host a Super Bowl)

  • BarkingDawg

    Blah, Blah, Blah.

    A pointless law.

  • kahy

    do it…but put a sign out front of your business or church so that no one unfit for your establishment enters…If you really believe that this is right, you should have no problem with this….sure, you may go out of business but at least you stood by your interpretation of the bible.

  • ireaddaily

    This law is allowing discrimination. The only way that I would somewhat agree with it is if all businesses that plan on taking advantage of their new right to discriminate are mandated to post a large sign on the door advising potential clients of their views. That way, potential clients can exercise their right to determine whether or not they want to do business with intolerant, self righteous, narrow minded people. I sure wouldn’t go into an establishment that refuses to serve anyone based on sexual orientation, race, or religious preference.

  • Charisma Bowden

    I think they should bring in a law to make all the filthy pedophile condoning religions to pay taxes on their tax free pediphile fund as well.