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A Raw Deal from Nathan Deal

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Georgia Governor Nathan Deal (R) used to be a Democrat, and on Thursday, it was easy to see why. The longtime congressman-turned-governor sounded a lot like his old party last week when he lashed out at conservatives for wanting to stop the wave of LGBT persecution against Christians. For months, Georgians have been trying to find a path forward for legislation that would stop the government from punishing men and women of faith who believe differently about marriage than the five activists on the Supreme Court.

After extremists sank a Religious Freedom Restoration Act last year, leaders moved forward with what they called a Georgia Pastor Protection Act — which, unfortunately, does nothing to help government officials, wedding vendors, and business owners who morally oppose same-sex marriage. The state senate tried to correct some of the bill’s weakness by adding language similar to the First Amendment Defense Act, and it passed. Now, the Georgia House is trying to water it down more. But even that doesn’t satisfy Governor Deal, who thinks even the thinnest layer of conscience protections is a mistake.

Using his faith as a fig leaf to hide behind, Governor Deal tried to argue that Jesus himself would have fought the bill. “If you were to apply those standards to the teachings of Jesus, I don’t think they fit,” he said. “Why, for example, would he reach out to the woman at the well? She was an outcast, because of her social mores, and she was being rejected. She had to come in the heat of the day because she couldn’t come when the rest of the women came to the well to draw the water. I think what that says is that he says that 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.” Lawmakers, he said, need to “just take a deep breath, recognize that the world is changing around us.”

Yes, which is exactly why states are racing to pass protections — because the “changing world” is using the government as a weapon to bludgeon people of faith. Governor Deal insists that conservatives shouldn’t “feel threatened” by the Supreme Court’s ruling. Tell that to Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis, who was thrown behind bars for her Christian beliefs or former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, who was terminated over a men’s Bible study on sexual morality. There are dozens of others who have been fined, suspended, fired, bankrupt, and threatened for believing about marriage the same thing President Obama did when he was elected.

Shame on Nathan Deal for trying to pin the blame for this mess on conservatives, who are only asking for the same right to live and work by their beliefs that the First Amendment already grants them. As people like Barronelle Stutzman, Aaron and Melissa Klein, Robert and Cynthia Gifford, Betty and Richard Odgaard will tell you, that’s not what’s happening. What’s happening is that Christians are being forced to violate their religious beliefs by their own government. It’s time to disarm government from their tools of persecution used against Christians who believe the Bible — with bills even stronger than Georgia’s — and practice the tolerance liberals preach.



 

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