State legislatures across the country are disenfranchising LGBTI Americans.
Lawmakers are introducing a surprising number of bills in state legislative sessions, overtly sanctioning and enforcing discrimination. These bills are called Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA), but don’t be fooled. These politicians are looking to codify LGBTI discrimination.
This week the Georgia Senate, with a vote of 37-15, approved their controversial RFRA (House Bill 1023).
The bill claims that treating LGBTIs and others equally puts a ‘substantial burden’ on the religious beliefs and practices of Georgia’s Christian conservatives, fundamentalists and evangelicals.
It allows them to ignore any law or policy they want in the name of religion.
But let’s be clear, the only religious folk lawmakers hope to protect from this ‘burden’ is Christians.
Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and other non-Christian Georgians don’t merit protection. Actually these groups – along with atheists and LGBTIs – can be subject to open discrimination, bigotry and hate crimes under the guise of religion.
For example, the Atlanta-based family-owned fast food fried chicken chain Chick-fil-A could now – with the state’s sanctioning of House Bill 1023 – refuse to hire Jews, divorcees, gays or trans people. And use their Southern Baptist beliefs to justify it.
In June 2012 controversy arose when it was disclosed that the company’s founder S Truett Cathy and his family donated millions to groups across the country fighting same-sex marriage.
Cathy, through The WinShape Foundation, the chain’s charitable organization, flatly barred same-sex couples from the foundation’s marriage retreats.
Religious Freedom Restoration Acts like Georgia’s are springing up around the country.
Oklahoma state senator Joseph Silk, said about gay people: ‘They don’t have a right to be served in every single store. People need to have the ability to refuse service if its violates their religious convictions.’
While South Dakota’s and Arkansas’s RFRA failed to advance in their state’s legislative sessions North Carolina’s and Alabama’s bill did.
In same-sex marriage equality states (like North Carolina and Alabama) state judges and state employees like justices of the peace can refuse to officiate same-sex nuptials and private businesses can refuse services to same-sex couples citing their religious beliefs.
This disease has spread across the country. The last place one expects to see this type of discrimination rearing its head is liberal Massachusetts. But it has.
Gordon College is a small conservative Christian college on the North Shore, priding itself on upholding religious freedom.
The college’s President, D Michael Lindsay, along with 14 influential religious leaders from across the country, asked President Obama for an exemption banning discrimination in hiring on the basis of sexual orientation.
They were pushing the boundaries of an opt-out from the Affordable Care Act for religious family-owned corporations. A court had said religious employers didn’t have to pay for certain contraceptives for women under the ACA.
This was hardly, though, the first time a Massachusetts school has tried to paint discrimination as religious freedom.
In January 2014, we heard about the case of Fontbonne Academy, a religious college prep school in Milton, MA.
If first offered Matt Barrett employment as Food Services Director then fired him when he stated on a form his spouse was a man.
‘If I’m planning and making meals for students, I’m not sure what my being gay has to do with the job,’ Barrett said. ‘I’ve always done well in my work, and was excited about working at Fontbonne. All I did was fill out the form honestly.’
The Religious Freedom Restoration Acts springing up across the country are a backlash to the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage and the growing fear the Supreme Court will legalize it nationwide.
They are a perversion of the Constitution and our history of religious freedom.