WASHINGTON, April 11, 2016 – The “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act” signed by Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant has offered comfort for Christians while drawing a firestorm of criticism from opponents.
For many Christians in Mississippi, the law provides a shield and allows them to uphold their moral convictions and religious beliefs. Opponents, including gay rights activists, claim the legislation legalizes state sanctioned discrimination.
The Mississippi governor firmly disagrees with the idea that the law is discriminatory. He emphasized that in signing the law, he was in fact protecting religious freedom in the state. He stated that he wanted, “to protect sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions,” according to the Washington Post. In addition, Gov. Bryant said, “The legislation is designed in the most targeted manner possible to prevent government interference in the lives of the people from which all power to the state is derived.”
At the head of the list of opponents to the Mississippi Religious Liberty law is the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi. Its executive director Jennifer Riley-Collins claims in a written statement, “This bill flies in the face of the basic American principles of fairness, justice and equality and will not protect anyone’s religious liberty.” Riley-Collins added, “This is a sad day for the state of Mississippi and for the thousands of Mississippians who can now be turned away from businesses, refused marriage licenses, or denied housing, essential services and needed care based on who they are.”
But does the bill really fly in the face of the basic American principles of “fairness, justice and equality?
Judi lake , executive director for the American Christian Civil Rights Movement strongly supports the actions taken by the state of Mississippi, which she considers a strong stand for religious freedom and liberty. Lake stressed, “The Mississippi governor’s action reflects a possible turning point for the protection of religious freedom and liberty. This hallmark legislation is welcomed and will prayerfully strengthen pastors, legislators and other supporters of religious freedom and liberties to push for similar laws in other states.”
The religious rights and freedoms have been an essential foundation of the American First Amendment Constitutional protections since the creation of the Republic. Those same protections are in danger of erosion. In recent years, the Obama administration and its liberal mainstream media and entertainment industry cohorts have worked tirelessly to marginalize and minimize Christian civil rights and protections.
Last year the U.S. Supreme Court joined that infamous club when it ruled in favor of gay marriage, creating a constitutional protection for gay marriage where none existed in law.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas vigorously disagreed with the court’s decision in a minority opinion. Thomas said the majority’s decision was, “at odds not only with the Constitution, but with the principles upon which our nation was built.”
There is an essential U.S. Constitutional issue that exists at the very core of both the new law and others across the nation that are being crafted in state houses. Does the U.S. Constitution allow for Christianity’s religious freedoms to be criminalized when government decides they should be set aside and voided?
According to Fox News reports at least 13 states are considering religious liberty and public safety laws, including Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming.
Not all state leaders are on board with protecting religious freedoms. Recently Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed The Free Exercise Protection Act which would have protected religious freedom after caving in when The NFL threatened to not permit a Super Bowl bid in Atlanta and Walt Disney Co., threatened to cease all film production in the state, reported the Los Angeles Times.
Unlike Governor Deal, Mississippi’s governor not only signed the bill but may be used an example for other state leaders to challenge the assault against religious freedom.
- Religious organizations can legally refuse to recognize a same-sex marriage or a person’s gender identity for any purpose.
- For-profit businesses can refuse to serve a same-sex wedding,
- Schools can prohibit students from wearing clothes and using the bathroom of the gender they identify with if it doesn’t match the gender on their birth certificate.
- Government officials like county clerks can legally recuse himself or herself from signing a marriage license for a same-sex couple
Mississippi has taken a stand for religious liberty and freedom guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution in spite of potential legal and economic backlash. This governor and this state has decided that silence is betrayal