Sen. Jesse Stone Supports Religious Freedom Legislation In GA

From an email from Sen. Jesse Stone (GA-23, representing all or parts of Burke, Columbia, Emanuel Glascock, Jefferson, Jenkins, Johnson, McDuffie, Richmond, Screven, and Warren Counties):

“During the 2015 General Assembly session, I was among 27 original sponsors of the Georgia Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), Senate Bill 129 authored by Sen. Josh McKoon. As the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee, I voted in favor of RFRA in committee and again voted for it on the floor of the Senate. RFRA currently waits for recommendation from the House Judiciary Committee to reach the House floor for a vote. This important bill deserves a floor vote in the House.

SB 129 strengthens protections for the free exercise of religion. It follows closely the federal RFRA which passed Congress almost unanimously in 1993. Congress passed RFRA in response to a Supreme Court decision that lowered protections for religious freedom. However, federal law does not protect persons of faith from actions at the State level – therefore, the need for Georgia to pass a State RFRA. Thirty-one other States have adopted these protections, including four of our neighboring states.

How does RFRA protect religious freedom? It restricts the power of government to interfere with its free exercise. RFRA limits the power to situations involving important governmental interests. If the government objective is important, then the State should adopt the measure which has the least adverse effect on religion. RFRA provides courts with a balancing standard for reviewing the legitimacy of laws passed by the State that affect religious freedom. It is appropriate that courts use a strict standard that favors this fundamental freedom, recognized under the First Amendment as a basic right of all people.”

“RFRA is long overdue in Georgia. Without it, government is more prone to overreach, for example:

1) A public college requiring a religious group to accept non-believers as officers in their organization;

2) A police department firing an employee who publicly espouses a traditional view of marriage;

3) A State threatening the tax exempt status of a religious charity that uses the Scriptures in guiding adoption decisions.

Where RFRA has not been adopted, these protections are being eroded daily.

Liberal special interest groups and big corporate opponents of RFRA are using scare tactics to block it. They claim RFRA will send the wrong message to the business community and that Georgia will be boycotted. This has not been the experience of the thirty-one States that have already adopted RFRA. Regardless, passing RFRA is the right thing to do – it defends a fundamental right of our citizens.

Please urge your members of the Georgia House of Representatives to pass RFRA without amendment and send it to the Governor’s desk for signing.”

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Dave BearseJeanAndrew C. PopeCalypsoWill Durant Recent comment authors
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Robbie
Robbie

Odd. Senator McKoon kept saying that SB129 wouldn’t have helped Kelvin Cochran nor would it allow for discrimination as described in this email. Either McKoon’s lying or Stone has no idea what he’s talking about.

Calypso
Calypso

“Either McKoon’s lying or Stone has no idea what he’s talking about.”

Why not both?

Will Durant
Will Durant

I probably shouldn’t mentally tar any legislator’s opinion from past actions regarding a single bill. That being said Sen. Stone’s over sweetening of the private probation bill on behalf of the industry thus requiring the Governor’s veto has still left a cloying effect in my mind whenever I see his name in print. Association with this attempted resurrection of a bill to champion the “rights” of the majority only serves to add more saccharin.

Calypso
Calypso

Jeezzz, enough already of all this contrived “We Christians are so oppressed and persecuted” crappy pieces of legislation. Give it a rest. Your sky is not falling, you can still go to church and Sunday school a bazillion times a week if that’s what floats your boat, you can still pray and teach your smug, self-righteous bigotry to your little Jimmy and Susie. Nobody’s stopping you.

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

1) A public college requiring a religious group to accept non-believers as officers in their organization I’m not getting how this is a thing, let alone how Sen. Stone thinks this should be the first bullet out of the gun. Every student organization I was a part of required that officers be elected by the membership. I believe UGA had a requirement that the “constitution” for any student organization could not discriminate in membership or officer-status based on race, religion, gender, etc. Even if the FCA is not allowed to “ban” non-Christians from leadership positions, I would think that membership… Read more »

Jean
Jean

I think it’s because there is at least one national religious organization specializing in campus “ministry” that will not allow chapters to accept anyone for leadership positions who aren’t their type of Christian. They have been told they cannot receive any public funding (including free meeting room use and student club money) in many states because of this restriction. (I think many states will allow them to meet on campus if they pay for the room but they can’t be considered a school sponsored organization because of the discrimination.) (I think one organization is InterVarsity)

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

“I’m not getting how this is a thing, let alone how Sen. Stone thinks this should be the first bullet out of the gun.” Great sentence.