Pastors may keep Atlanta from hosting the Super Bowl

Nothing screams “invidious discrimination” like an SBC pastor who refuses to officiate a gay wedding.

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This may be difficult to hear for those of you who look on Georgia as a land flowing with sweet tea and gravy, but something stinks in God’s country. Elected representatives are about to drag the citizenry into an abyss of lawless discrimination.

Last week the GA senate, under cover of darkness,  passed an amended version of the insidious Free Exercise Protection Act–HB 757 if you don’t want to sugarcoat the wanton violation of civil rights. The bill now sits on the governor’s desk awaiting a signature. Legalized discrimination is just a pen stroke away.

While equal protection for all may become a relic in the South (who says history doesn’t repeat itself?), injustice isn’t marching on unopposed. Along with political action groups, more than 400 businesses have joined the coalition Georgia Prospers which is pressuring Gov. Deal to veto the bill. Even the NFL, the gold standard of American morality, has said that Atlanta may not be able to host the Super Bowl if the ‘anti-gay bill’ passes.

But the righteous indignation heard in the public square doesn’t adequately convey just how offensive HB 757 is. You have to read the bill to get the full impact. Since loyal Script readers are certain to read the bill for themselves I’ll just summarize the offending proposals:

  1. Ordained ministers, in keeping with their religious convictions, would be free to choose whether or not they will officiate a wedding, perform a religious rite, or administer any sacraments. (sec 2.b.)
  2. Anyone[!] would be free to attend or not attend a wedding, performance of any rite, or administration of any sacrament in keeping with the exercise of their religion. (sec 2.d.)
  3. Faith based organizations (i.e. churches, religious school, etc.) would not required to provide their facilities or services if it violated their religious beliefs (sec 4.a-b)
  4. Faith based organizations would not be required to hire or keep as an employee anyone whose religious beliefs/practices aren’t in line with the beliefs/practices of the faith based organization. (sec 5.b.)

To sum up: religious leaders would be free to practice their religion, religious institutions would be free to determine how their facilities & resources are used, and everyone would be free to choose whether or not to attend a wedding or religious ceremony.

Huh.

Is it just me, or does the actual content leave you underwhelmed?

HB 757 will not lead to a proliferation of water fountains–half for heterosexuals, half for homosexuals. HB 757 will not create shop signs reading “No shirt, No heterosexuality, No service.” And HB 757 offers no protection–zero–for religious individuals in the marketplace. Only formally recognized religious leaders and institutions “benefit” from this legislation.

But even if Gov. Deal signs the bill into law, Georgia Prospers’ weeping may only last for the night. The dawn will bring an inevitable court challenge where an enlightened judiciary will rule that the bigot bill provides an escape clause:

“Nothing in this chapter should be construed to permit invidious discrimination on any grounds prohibited by federal or state law.”

Let’s face it. Nothing screams “invidious discrimination” like an SBC pastor who refuses to officiate a gay wedding.

Author: Jonathan P. Merritt

Happily married father of six. Associate pastor for education at Edgewood Baptist Church (Columbus, GA). Good-natured contrarian and theological Luddite. A student of one book.

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