For the second time in less than a week, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has issued a strong statement opposing the religious liberty bill that includes both the Pastor Protection Act and the First Amendment Defense Act. Amended by the Senate and sent back to the House, HB 757 awaits movement in the lower chamber.
As reported by Greg Bluestein in the AJC, the governor turned to biblical lessons to illustrate his opposition to the legislation, which is seen by some as being discriminatory towards gays, lesbians, and other individuals.
“What the New Testament teaches us is that Jesus reached out to those who were considered the outcasts, the ones that did not conform to the religious societies’ view of the world … We do not have a belief in my way of looking at religion that says we have to discriminate against anybody. If you were to apply those standards to the teaching of Jesus, I don’t think they fit.”
He then turned to a passage from the Gospel of John that showed Jesus reaching out to an outcast.
“What that says is we have a belief in forgiveness and that we do not have to discriminate unduly against anyone on the basis of our own religious beliefs. We are not jeopardized, in my opinion, by those who believe differently from us. We are not, in my opinion, put in jeopardy by virtue of those who might hold different beliefs are who may not even agree with what our supreme court said the law of the land is on the issue of same-sex marriage. I do not feel threatened by the fact that people who might choose same-sex marriages pursue that route.”
On Monday, the governor issued what could be considered a veto threat over the current version of the Pastor Protection Act.
Kaleb McMichen, Speaker David Ralston’s spokesman, issued the following statement on Thursday in support of Governor Deal:
Speaker Ralston appreciates and shares Governor Deal’s sincere commitment to protecting religious liberties while ensuring that Georgia continues to welcome everyone with genuine southern hospitality.
Productive conversations continue with the Governor’s staff as well as other members of House leadership regarding HB 757 and the Speaker is confident that we can find a way to move forward together.
The speaker also expressed his support for preserving religious freedom without discrimination following the Governor’s remarks on Monday.