Institute on Religion & Democracy Press Release
March 29, 2016
Contact: Jeff Walton Office: 202-682-4131, Cell: 202-413-5639, E-Mail: [email protected]
Washington, DC—Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced Monday that he has vetoed a religious liberty bill passed by the state legislature.
Evangelical Christians strongly supported the legislation, citing its protections for pastors to opt out of performing same-sex weddings. The Washington Post reports that the legislation would have given religious organizations the ability to refuse certain services, including charitable services, if doing so clashed with their religious beliefs.
The legislation sparked objections from major donors and corporations including AT&T, Bank of America and Delta Airlines, who saw it as discriminatory against persons who identify as gay or transgender.
IRD Evangelical Action Director Chelsen Vicari commented:
“When corporate bullies dangling dollar bills is enough to cause a Baptist governor to veto a bill protecting freedom of conscience and speech, a bigger problem exits.
“Gov. Nathan Deal’s veto of Georgia’s religious freedom bill represents a wider movement among America’s Christians to compromise Scripture and morality for the sake of votes and popularity. Unfortunately, many Evangelicals, Mainline Protestants, and Catholics are bowing down at altars of sexual liberation and political correctness, erected by cultural Leftists.
“Meanwhile, Christians in Syria and Iraq refuse to abandon their faith in the face of death and Islamic terror. Compromising Christians, such as Gov. Deal, should be ashamed of themselves for sacrificing the protection of pastors and faith-based organizations for the sake of approval. This isn’t compassion. It’s cowardice.
“Religious freedom is an essential cornerstone of democracy. Compromising Christians who condemn legislation intended to protect citizen’s freedom of conscience and speech, hand over our convictions to a coercive government incapable of refereeing truth.”
Comment by Mark Brooks on March 29, 2016 at 4:26 pm
The override of McCrory’s veto worked in North Carolina, so a veto override should at least be attempted in Georgia as well. As for McCrory, he waited until after the Republican primary to issue his veto. Timing is everything, and the vote should have been held sooner to hold his feet to the fire, but memories are long and this isn’t his first controversial veto. As a rule, politicians who choose money over righteousness shouldn’t get Christian votes, whatever party they are a member of.
The correct response is for the Christians (and conservatives generally) of Georgia to remove Nathan Deal from office for his veto. He can be defeated in the next Republican party primary. In the meantime, they should do everything they can to override the veto.
Comment by Gary Whiteman on March 29, 2016 at 5:46 pm
I’d like to see the SB give him the boot, but the lamestream media would portray it as a “witch hunt.” I’m betting his home congregation will get a nice fat check very soon, him trying to smooth things over.
Comment by Paul on April 2, 2016 at 4:28 am
He’s a member of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. They’re a group of moderate churches that broke away from the Southern Baptists in the early 90s when they felt the SBC was going too far to the right.
Comment by Trevor Thomas on March 29, 2016 at 8:59 pm
As one who was raised baptist, and with much of my family still attending the baptist church where I was raised, and as someone who hails from Gainesville, GA (Governor Deal’s home town), I would describe Mr. Deal as a “baptist” in only the loosest of terms.
He is a member, and a former deacon, of the First Baptist Church of Gainesville, GA. Tragically, it was just recently revealed that this church, along with a former pastor, are being sued for hiding the sexual abuse committed by a former deacon, Fleming Weaver. While a Scout Leader for a Boy Scout troop sponsored by First Baptist of Gainesville, Weaver sexually abused multiple young boys.
When some of his victims brought information to First Baptist, in 1981 Weaver admitted to church leadership that he had indeed sexually abused several boys. The church chose not to reveal Weaver’s abuse to the Boy Scouts or to law enforcement, and allowed Weaver to remain in church leadership. The alleged victim bringing the lawsuit accuses Weaver of raping him in 1985, when the boy was 15. Weaver, now 82 years-old, remained a deacon at First Baptist until just last week.
The current pastor of First Baptist of Gainesville, GA is Bill Coates. Dr. Coates has been the pastor of First Baptist since 1998, and according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution “acknowledged he had heard the rumors about Weaver, ‘but there was never any kind of proof.'”
However, as I noted at the time, about three years-ago First Baptist, along with three other Gainesville denominations, sponsored the appearance of the (late) infamous heretic Marcus Borg at a two-day lecture series on the campus of a Gainesville University. Speaking to the local paper, Coates described Borg as someone who “speaks of an emerging paradigm to see faith and practice faith in an age of science and technology.” Coates added that, “So many people don’t believe today because they don’t believe the basic doctrines or have trouble understanding the stories of the Bible. For people like that, Borg has a new approach, a new lens through which they can see those stories.”
In other words, it should come as little surprise that a church who would allow an abuser of children to remain in leadership, who would sponsor the speeches of a heretic, would also produce a Governor who would “compromise Scripture and morality for the sake of votes and popularity (as well as money).” Yes, there are “bigger problems” indeed at the First Baptist of Gainesville, GA.
Comment by Kingdom Ambassador on April 12, 2016 at 4:15 pm
“Religious Freedom” is code for discrimination–that is, discrimination against Christians–and it has been since the inception of the First Amendment. The only people who don’t get it, are Christians:
“…Although the First Amendment does not allow for establishing one religion over another, by eliminating Christianity as the federal government’s religion of choice (achieved by Article 6’s interdiction against Christian test oaths), Amendment 1 authorized equality for all non-Christian and even antichristian religions. When the Constitution failed to recognize Christian monotheism, it allowed Amendment 1 to fill the void by authorizing pagan polytheism.
“Amendment 1 did exactly what the framers proclaimed it could not do: it prohibited the exercise of monotheistic Christianity (except within the confines of its church buildings) and established polytheism in its place. This explains the government’s double standard regarding Christian and non-Christian religions. For example, court participants entering the United States District Court of Appeals for the Middle District of Alabama must walk by a statue of Themis, the Greek goddess of justice. And yet, on November 18, 2002, this very court ruled that Judge Roy Moore’s Ten Commandments Monument violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. Despite many Christians’ protests against this hypocrisy, it was in keeping with the inevitable repercussions of the First Amendment.
“…Christians hang their religious hat on Amendment 1, as if some great moral principle is carved therein. They have gotten so caught up in the battle over the misuse of the Establishment Clause – the freedom from religion – that they have overlooked the ungodliness intrinsic in the Free Exercise Clause – the freedom of religion…..”
For more, see online Chapter 11 “Amendment 1: Government-Sanctioned Polytheism” of “Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective” at http://www.bibleversusconstituti
Comment by Actuary Lady on April 12, 2016 at 4:57 pm
It was reported, ironically (or maybe not), that none of those calling to complain on behalf of these businesses (at least in the first few days after the bill passed the legislature) had even READ the bill or even knew what it said.
Comment by MarcoPolo on April 14, 2016 at 4:06 pm
I think it wrong-headed to think Gov. Deal was compromising on his religious faith when he vetoed the Bill.
If it was left in place, Georgia would have admitted to being unwilling to equally honor every citizen of the State of Georgia. Not to mention sending the signal to major social events that bring commerce and culture to the state.
If Orthodox Christians feel compromised, then it’s also possible that they are beginning to see the inevitable shift in social mores, to which every country/religion must either face with acceptance, resistance, or even a receding presence in the culture. (?)