Sunday, March 2, 2014

Mississippi Baptists working legislators to pass "Turn the Gays Away" bill

Dr. Jimmy Porter, director of the Mississippi Baptist Convention-affiliated Christian Action Commission, wrote legislators this weekend asking them to pass SB2681, the Mississippi copycat of Arizona's "turn gays away" legislation.

The email, reproduced below, was accompanied by a letter endorsing the bill from a few law school professors to Speaker Philip Gunn (R - Clinton).  The letter stands for the highly conservative position that since the state constitution already provides the protections established by SB2681, passing another new law couldn't hurt.  (If there was a sarcasm font, I'd have used it in the preceding sentence.)  By the way, the letter was written on the letterhead of University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock, who has done everything from defend the right of religious leaders to sacrifice small animals during ceremonies to advocate for same-sex marriage.  I wonder if Dr. Porter knew all of that before he shared the letter?

Anyway, here's the email.  WWJD, y'all?

Christian Action supports SB2681 with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act

As you may well know, the MS Senate passed bill SB2681 that included the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act (MS RFRA). This bill had unanimous support coming from the senate.

This bill as it passed the senate protects the religious freedom of Mississippians and business owners from discrimination and intolerance. The bill is now in jeopardy in the MS House of Representatives where pressure from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) lobby, the Human Rights Campaign, the ACLU, AT&T and the MS Economic Council are working to kill the bill or to remove parts of the bill that will provide equal religious protection. Removing these provisions would provide a loophole so that if the ACLU and other likeminded organizations sue a business owner, that person could not use RFRA as a religious liberty defense.

For example, "The New York Division of Human Rights has accused a skating rink of discrimination for playing Christian music during a skate party for churches. Rink owners insist they've done nothing wrong and that authorities are investigating to see if we discriminate against people who don't like Christian music" (Agape Press 6/29/06).  Such businesses as this would not have adequate protection of religious expression without a strong RFRA in Mississippi.

The intent of this bill is to provide guidance to Mississippi courts to balance religious rights with the interests of others. In doing so, the bill provides protection for the rights of conscience for all people, whatever their religion. The bill is not about discrimination or hate, it is about religious freedom. Furthermore, there is no biblical basis that one person is any better than any other.

In fact, the Bible states "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" and that "God is not one to show partiality" (Gal 3:28, Acts 10:34). Furthermore, the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title II, clearly prevents any discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters, and all other public accommodations. Anyone who says this bill is about discrimination is not being honest, even deceptive, or they do not fully understand the intent of this bill. The days of denying the legality of a person's civil rights is over and should have never have happened in the first place.

I ask that you pass SB2681 with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and to also to fight for a stronger RFRA that supports the religious conscience of all people, including business owners.

Attached is a letter from 14 First Amendment scholars across the country supporting SB 2681. The letter explains RFRA in more detail.


Jimmy Porter

1 comment:

Bruce Robinson said...

I am having difficulty following Porter's reasoning. The purpose of the bill is to help store owners, corporations, etc discriminate against people for any reason, including against: women, men, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals, people of any religion, political party, skin color race, nationality, etc. as long as the discrimination is based upon the owner's religious belief. Yet Porter says "anyone who says this bill is about discrimination is not being honest."