The latest effort to enact religious liberty legislation in Georgia was met by interfaith opposition at a Capitol news conference organized by the Faith in Public Life coalition Thursday, Feb. 23.
“The Bible tells us to lift up the downtrodden. It doesn’t matter whether they are Christian, Jewish or Samaritan or haven’t found their faith at all,” Congregation B’nai Torah Rabbi Joshua Heller said. “The Bible tells us to feed the hungry; it doesn’t matter whether they are straight or gay. The Bible tells us to care for the orphan and the widow. It doesn’t say ‘except for those people.’ ”
He and other clergy members were speaking out against Senate Bill 233, introduced by Sen. Marty Harbin (R-Tyrone). That measure would add the text of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act to the Georgia Code.
It’s simpler than the extensive legislation the General Assembly passed last year, only to have Gov. Nathan Deal veto it. But critics say the effect would be similar: to legalize discrimination against LGBT people.
“We have the right to believe what we want about G-d, faith and religion, and we have the right to act on those beliefs — unless those actions harm others,” said Andrea Young, the executive director of the ACLU of Georgia.
Deal has made it clear that he will not sign S.B. 233, which has not moved past the committee level.
Faith in Public Life called for the General Assembly to establish a study committee on civil rights protections instead of passing another religious liberty bill.