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Vetoing Religious Liberty

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal caved to the Rainbow Mafia.

On Monday, religious liberty took another hit when Georgia Republican Governor Nathan Deal vetoed a bill passed by the state legislature earlier this month. We have long warned that the path to same-sex marriage was a slippery slope because the Rainbow Mafia won’t stop their bullying until they get total acceptance of their way. And it’s made worse when proper protections can’t be put in place.

Deal apparently caved to the pressure of big business and chose to side with economic interests over Liberty and common sense. For a governor who has a reasonably conservative track record, this compromise on the principles of Liberty comes as a double blow. But it also demonstrates how the homosexual lobby along with big businesses that support that agenda won’t even tolerate the mildest form of protection for those who cherish religious freedom.

As the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson notes, “The Georgia religious freedom bill that Deal vetoed would have safeguarded clergy from having to officiate same-sex weddings, prevented faith-based organizations from being forced to hire someone who publicly undermines their mission, and prohibited the state government from discriminating against churches and their affiliated ministries because they believe marriage is between a man and a woman.”

But he also noted the bill was “the result of a series of compromises that significantly watered down the original version.” For example, the bill did not protect bakers, florists and other small business owners who might be involved in wedding ceremonies. Those are the ones who would benefit most from this legislation, but nevertheless several big business executives from Disney, Apple, Time Warner, Intel and Salesforce called governor Deal asking him to veto the legislation. The NFL and NCAA also threatened to yank future sporting events from the state.

Apparently the economic pressure, and threats of boycotts and of canceling football championships were too much for the governor and he sided with uncommon sense over the common good.

Anderson notes that in explaining his veto, Deal argued that the religious liberty bill “doesn’t reflect the character of our state or the character of its people.” He also added that states should not pass any religious freedom laws, for religious freedom “is best left to the broad protections of the First Amendment.”

Ideally, he’s correct, but the governor is missing the point behind the bill that he just vetoed. As Anderson notes, “Americans need both broad protections and specific protections.”

Yes it is true that the First Amendment shields Americans from government encroachment on religious freedom. But it is also true that the Rainbow Mafia is increasingly aggressive in its fascist efforts to enforce “tolerance” — to force individuals and businesses to either violate conscience or be charged with discrimination.

This bill was designed to protect pastors, churches and Christian schools in Georgia from being forced to comply with the demands of homosexual activists. It is not enough for the homosexual activists and big businesses that support them to recognize that there are already some so-called churches and religious organizations that do accept and promote their lifestyle. No, they want everyone to accept and celebrate it.

Where is the tolerance in this? If you believe that marriage is between one man and one woman, yet you can’t operate a business or a church on that belief, then where is the freedom? Obviously, there is no tolerance, only compliance, and if there isn’t compliance then there are and will be penalties.

Deal missed the perfect opportunity to take a stand for the truth. And by not taking a stand on principle, the liberty of the pastors, churches and religious schools in the Peach State is jeopardized, while the Rainbow Mafia is emboldened by a victory.

Our culture has and is changing, and for that reason alone it is essential that state and local governments preserve liberty for those who desire to maintain the traditional view of marriage being between one man and one woman.

There will be numerous legal challenges ahead, regardless of the outcome in Georgia. While this battle for religious liberty was lost, the war for our culture will continue. We must not cave to the pressures from those who seek to strip away one of our most fundamental freedoms.

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