Thoughts on HB 218

Or the “Preventing Government Overreach on Religious Expression Act” for those playing along at home.

But first, a visual aid.

218

Nothing brings out the screaming ninnies like an attempt to have a sincere discussion of religious freedom in the public square. When did America become so thin-skinned?

I welcome this legislation. All Georgians should be able to practice their religious beliefs without fear of overbearing government regulation and retaliation. That right covers all aspects of daily life, whether at work or play, at home, a place of worship or waving signs on street corners. If you disagree, engage in spirited debate or walk away, like millions of humans have done for decades and centuries. Don’t attack someone (or a business) simply for their beliefs.

Violence is not the answer. Lawsuits don’t settle issues, they only line the pockets of lawyers, close businesses and destroy jobs. Boycotts rarely accomplish anything.

The misinformation merchants are working hard against this bill. Georgia is being blasted with all sorts of accusations of the horrors that will befall our lovely state if this bill is made law. Take a breath, be thoughtful; inform yourself of the real facts and weigh what you hear against them. Georgians of all faiths need to be protected.

(Full disclosure: I am a Christian woman with a Christian family. I struggle daily with my own walk with God, as most thinking Christians do. Attacking me in the comments will not change my mind, or make me hate you in kind, but only prompt me to pray for you. Also, nasty emails to the editors calling for my head on a pike and banishment from all things PeachPundit, forever and always amen, will not produce your desired results.)

39 comments

  1. Max Power says:

    First your visual aid is full of lies, half-truths, and deliberate misinformation. Secondly there’s a strong argument that RFRA is unconstitutional. Finally, it’s simply not needed.

  2. Dr. Monica Henson says:

    I am likewise a Christian, Presbyterian to be specific. While I have great respect for Sens. McKoon and Teasley, I honestly don’t see why we need this bill. Those who feel that they have been treated unfairly under the law already have recourse via civil means and federal nondiscrimination law. I’m thinking of the Muslim group wanting to build a mosque in Kennesaw, for example. After the city council initially voted against the zoning request, the city attorney talked sense into them in order to avoid the inevitable civil lawsuit. Problem solved.

    How would the RFRA bill have made this situation any different? The Kennesaw City Council would probably have had the same knee-jerk vote, the same conversation with the city attorney, and the same subsequent re-vote.

        • Scarlet Hawk says:

          Also, the mosque group was represented by a zoning attorney who’s been doing zoning law since buck was a calf, particularly in Dekalb County- not a particularly easy county in which to get things done, period. He is someone who I admire and would not envy anyone on the opposite side of him. Safe to say that zoning application was done with all T’s crossed and I’s dotted. That firm is known for this type of law and that attorney doesn’t typically take cases he can’t win.

          If the City Council had not reversed their decision, he would have had a field day, furthered his firm’s good name in the field, and personally I would have enjoyed watching it unfold.

  3. Jas says:

    Can anyone point me to the actual thoughts in this piece, because it looks a whole lot more like a cut and paste job.

  4. Harry says:

    If homosexuals believe that government shouldn’t force them to not abuse their bodies, what makes them think they can make government attempt to force others to acquiesce in their lifestyle?

    • Rick Day says:

      LOL, oh YOU!

      Do you equate gaysex with physical abuse? Because that is what you intimated. Also do you really think that acceptance means you have to engage in said gaysex?

      Is there something you would like to share with us, Harry? Because you are beginning to sound quite closeted, as vocal as you are about ‘the homersexelz’. It is OK to say “gay”.

      Look at it this way; your god made them they way they are. Who are we to question the wisdom of your god?

      • WeymanCWannamakerJr says:

        Considering the dozens if not hundreds of comments made on the subject it seems Harry is obsessed with his perception of what transpires behind closed doors between two consenting adults. He doesn’t want a nanny state. He just wants to be the nanny.

        • MattMD says:

          It isn’t that, he is very likely a gay man himself. I would put it close to 90%+ The literature is pretty clear on this.

    • MattMD says:

      I would bet my next paycheck that you are a closet homosexual. There is nothing wrong with that, Harry.

      Just admit it.

  5. Rick Day says:

    I will pray to your god that it heals you of your pearl clutching victimization issues.

    Nice graphic, btw. Did you make it, or did someone feed it to you?

  6. joe says:

    From the bill itself: “Government may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if
    government demonstrates that the application of such burden to a person is in furtherance
    of a compelling governmental interest and the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.”

    Put more simply: Sharia Law may be implemented.

  7. Posner says:

    It’s difficult to have an informed debate about something when the proponents don’t actually know what it does, and what it doesn’t do. The two examples of “why we need RFRA” cited in that graphic are simply wrong. As Jon pointed out above, zoning decisions have nothing to do with RFRA, already apply the standard RFRA is talking about (strict scrutiny a.k.a. compelling gov’t interest w/ least restrictive means), and even have their own specific law (RLUIPA).

    As for autopsy’s, the state’s “automatic, routine autopsy” isn’t automatic or routine–it’s only done when there is some criminal justice reason. As the graphic (correctly) points out, preventing crime is a compelling gov’t interest. So the question is whether an autopsy is the “least restrictive means” to helping solve a crime. Often it is, and RFRA wouldn’t prevent an autopsy. This situation specifically should be addressed with specific legislation (other states have done this).

    If we want to have an informed debate, let’s talk about what RFRAs have actually been used for in the past. There are myriad cases from other jurisdictions applying RFRA. Some examples:

    (1) RFRA has been used by Muslin litigants to gain exemptions from court rules regarding headwear (in other words, Muslim women have been allowed to wear burkas in court despite court rules prohibiting headwear)

    (2) Muslim employees have used RFRAs to force their employers to allow them time off to pray, as well as days off to observe religious holidays.

    (3) Muslim cab drivers have used RFRA to refuse service to intoxicated potential passengers, citing a religious objection to alcohol. (in this situation, the law required cab drivers to pick up any potential passenger, and Muslim drivers sought and received an exception).

    You’ll notice that each of these examples involve Islam. Although RFRA applies to all religions, it’s predominantly religious minorities who are discriminated against, thus it’s predominantly religious minorities who seek to use laws such as RFRA.

  8. Robbie says:

    It’s a shame that, when given the chance to fix the legal issues with his bill, Rep. Teasley has chosen not to do so. As noted in this letter (http://www.peachpundit.com/2015/01/23/legal-scholars-express-concerns-proposed-religious-freedom-bill/ – posted on this site, no less), just like HB29 had, HB218 does not specify that a person is defined as a “natural person.”

    And in a day and age with corporations are people, this bill will allow private businesses to discriminate if they so choose.

  9. John Vestal says:

    I do have a question (or, maybe questions) regarding the bill in its current form. Hopefully, either Sam or Josh or even Jon, et al, can address it/them.

    There had been rumors that the bill(s) were going to be revised in language to exclude businesses (i.e., the protections would extend to ‘natural persons’ only). Status/likelihood on this revision?

    The graphic implies that the legislation would neither “encourage or discourage” discrimination. So, what actual impact DOES it have regarding discrimination and a government entities ability to prosecute acts of discrimination?

    Currently, there is (obviously) no statewide statute addressing discrimination in areas such as employment, housing, public accommodation, etc., that includes protections on the basis of sexual orientation. There *are*, however, such ordinances enacted in multiple counties/municipalities. While I am unaware of any instances where a violation on these grounds has been alleged or action brought, what would passing this bill…as is…change regarding both how an alleged violator could defend against a claim of discrimination and how a city/county could pursue/adjudicate such a claim?

    Thanks.

    edit: Robbie also brought up the ‘natural persons’ issue above. And had a shorter post. And probably types faster. :>)

    • BryanLong says:

      Rep. Teasley has reversed course on the proposed “natural persons” language. He will not revise the bill despite making that promise.

      Here are quotes from Rep. Teasley from the Pastor’s Day press conference:

      “We’re not trying to get involved with the business transaction. We’re not trying to get involved with big business.”

      “… the language in the bill doesn’t discriminate. This is an area where I would encourage them [corporations] not to get involved in because it’s really not applicable to them.”

      He responds directly to a reporter’s question about when the “natural persons” language will be added:

      “What I was sensitive to… I was not looking to give a Fortune 500 company … because they’re not interested in this legislation. And so in the conversations I’ve had with attorneys, defining corporate language is not necessary because the Supreme Court has already ruled on this in a court case this past summer, saying that it does not apply to your Fortune 500 companies.”

      You can hear him say all of this during the Q&A portion of the press conference:

  10. benevolus says:

    Can businesses put a sign in their window saying “We don’t serve homosexuals”?
    Can businesses make potential customers sign an affidavit swearing that they are not homosexual?

    Can businesses do that stuff now? If so, how come I never see it? Would the new law encourage behavior like this?

  11. Tyler Blackmon says:

    I’m not sure what “screaming ninnies” means other than a thinly veiled swipe at gay people, but…

    That aside, I love the graphic. I also like this one: http://airlinepilotguy.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/pig-flying.png

    Unfortunately, dressing something up with a picture doesn’t make it true. Real people are going to be hurt by McKoon’s bill, so let’s not dismiss them with thinly veiled ad hominems and half-true graphics.

  12. Chamblee says:

    Will this bill allow me to tell the state of Georgia I don’t want to wait for my pregnant, yet comatose wife to give birth before I can remove her from life support?

    Current Georgia law (thanks personhood and fetal pain lobbies!) require that hospitals require a post 20-week pregnant lady to be kept alive until the child can be delivered.

    I think that’s a great case in point of how a law can be built on good intentions but have life altering unintended consequences

    Examples http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/08/us/pregnant-and-forced-to-stay-on-life-support.html?_r=0
    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2014/02/12/brain-dead-and-pregnant-why-one-baby-was-born-and-one-wasnt/

  13. Andrew C. Pope says:

    As an attorney that has read this bill, studied the federal RFRA, and has an affinity for infographics, I find this particular photo to be rife with misinformation.

  14. Harry says:

    Just remember, homosexuals are not a protected class. That means I can reserve the freedom to refuse to do business with anyone else. Protected class is something that has been granted legislatively and not from the bench, because it needs democratic moral imperative in order to reach success.

  15. PegM says:

    Bills that are written to address a social issue, like religion often cause a massive loss of common sense. Hold your beliefs, but tolerate those who are different. As a Catholic, I listen to protestant prayers before most meetings I attend. They are not the prayers of my church, but are as wholesome as mine, so I join in. I often wonder how my Hail Mary’s would go over.

    • Dave Bearse says:

      One of the issues that this legislation seeks to address is that these prayers have become less wholesome, but proponents think it necessary to maintain their illusory right to impose their religious oratory and inflict their beliefs on others.

  16. MattMD says:

    You seem pretty thin skinned, Obi. Look up irony. I thought that idea was beaten to death during the 90’s.

    I’m glad that you cleared up the fact that you are a Christian woman in a Christian family. Your Taliban-like posts started to make me think otherwise.

    Go ahead and pray for me but don’t condescend.

Comments are closed.