Ga Gov Nathan Deal: Religious Freedom doesn’t Need Protected – No One’s Being Sued Here
There’s a verse in the Bible I’m learning to understand more as our culture moves toward complete rebellion of God’s principles. That verse simply states, “you cannot serve God and money.” (Matt. 6:24 ff)
Now, some would say this means you can’t be rich and serve God, but that’s a false conclusion. One look into Scripture reveals many people that were indeed rich and were used of God; King Solomon is just one example. Nope, that verse is teaching that your priorities cannot be both the pursuit of money and the pursuit of God and serving God.
Our society has become driven by money: the pursuit of money, the protection of money, and the acquisition of more money. And when money is threatened it is not a surprise to see people make decisions in favor of money rather than in favor of serving God. When Georgia Governor Nathan Deal decided to veto a bill defending religious freedom he may not have consciously chosen money over God, but the outcome is the same.
The bill, known as the Free Exercise Protection Act (HB 757), would have protected people with sincerely held religious convictions from violating those convictions by taking part in same-sex weddings and other events they find objectionable. This was a common-sense bill given many incidents from around the country where Christians have been sued and convicted for adhering to their religious convictions.
Opponents of this bill said it was discriminatory and should be vetoed. As Gov. Deal deliberated over whether he would sign the measure into law, movie companies that bring in a great deal of revenue to the state came out in opposition to the bill. Both Disney and Marvel said they would go elsewhere to film movies if Georgia enacted the legislation. In addition to the movie studios, the Human Rights Campaign called for other businesses to boycott the state if Gov. Deal signed the bill into law. A recent article reports the HRC’s comments:
“It’s appalling that anti-LGBT activists in Georgia are trying to pass legislation creating an explicit right to discriminate against LGBT Americans. We urge other studios, major corporations, and fair-minded Georgians to continue speaking out and urging Gov. Deal to veto this heinous piece of legislation sitting on his desk.”
What is so “heinous” about this legislation?
According to reports, the bill specifically made provision for people of faith to be protected from lawsuits for simply following their religious convictions. Some of the specific protections included:
“The bill specifically protects religious leaders from having to perform weddings that violate their faith.
“It also protects churches, synagogues and other worship locations operated by religious organizations from being used for purposes that are contrary to their religious beliefs.
“HB 757 also offers protection to faith-based organizations, ensuring that businesses and employees will not be required by ordinance to work on a Sabbath day.
“Additionally, faith-based companies will not be required to rent or lease property to be used for purposes that object to the organization’s established religious doctrine.”
Which one of these protections is “heinous”? Is it the one protecting pastors from being forced to perform same-sex weddings? Or is it the one protecting churches from being forced to allow homosexuals to use their private facilities for weddings and other events that violate the core beliefs of the church? Maybe it’s the provision that says people cannot be forced to work on their Sabbath day.
Why would anyone be interested in forcing churches and pastors to do things that violate their convictions? If you are a homosexual couple, do you really want to force a pastor to marry you under threat of a government lawsuit? Is that how you want to start your married life together? Common sense says this is about more than just equal rights.
A keen eye will quickly realize that this is about the government having more power to force people to do whatever they want. If people, religious or not, retain individual rights it is hard to wield the absolute power many in government want. The best way to replace freedom and individual rights with government mandates is to remove the sacred rights of influential groups. No group has been more influential in America since it’s founding than religious groups. So it’s no surprise that we are seeing religious groups, churches, and organizations targeted.
Gov. Deal said, “I have examined the protections that this bill proposes to provide to the faith-based community and I can find no examples of any of those circumstances occurring in our state…I do not think that we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia.”
His reasoning for vetoing this bill seems to be nothing more than “well, nothing has happened here in Georgia, so let’s wait until something does happen then we’ll figure out what to do about it.”
That’s not leadership, that’s finding a convenient excuse to get out of doing what is right. Gov. Deal caved to financial pressure rather than standing firm and doing what is needed and what is right. But that’s the point. You cannot, absolutely cannot serve money and God. Gov. Deal may not be interested in serving God, but his actions are nonetheless a lesson for those of us that seek to do just that.
The reality is that it will continue to get harder to live as Christians in a society that is increasingly hostile towards the principles and tenets of our faith. It’s not that society hates us; it is that society hates our God and the commandments He established. So they will happily oppose all who determine to live according to those principles. Christians need to be prepared to make the choice between God and money. If you haven’t already had to make that choice, you will.