Again this year, Georgia will almost certainly not pass a religious protection law. This is because of what happened last year when the bill was put forth. The same thing that has happened in every state legislature that has tried to pass such laws.
These bills would allow local businesses to refuse to provide services for an event — not a person, but an event — that strongly conflicts with their religious faith. Situations like a Muslim-owned billboard company whose owner has gay and straight customers but refuses to put up a billboard celebrating Gay Pride Week. Or a t-shirt company owned by a gay couple whose belief in marriage fidelity prevents them from printing t-shirts proclaiming “Married Swingers Do It in the Trees,” for their city’s annual swingers convention. Or Christian and Muslim prison chaplains who refuse to marry gay couples.
When the Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage was legal, 30 states had laws on the books outlawing such unions. Local business owners with religious objections to serving and/or promoting gay events and marches began to be sued in court and In almost every case they lost. So state legislatures began to try to pass laws that would both protect the religious liberty of all its citizens while still providing basic services for all its citizens. But the NBA, NFL and the NCAA begun to swoop in and declare that such bills were “unwelcoming” and they threatened the legislators that they would withdraw big sports events from any state with a religious protection law. In Georgia, Falcons owner Arthur Blank was past of the sports threat cabal.
The sports titans were joined by the big brass of virtually all big U.S. corporations from Coke to Ford to Target in making the same threat. The editorial boards of most of the cities and towns of the states contemplating such laws — including The Telegraph in Macon — began to join in making the same “unwelcoming” case. None of these entities addressed the heart of the issue — the conflict of individual freedoms. None of these rich elites and mainstream media types mentioned that both Big Sports and Big Corps continue to do business with foreign countries that treat gays like dirt. Which made the anti-bigotry argument a joke. No, the issue was all about the potential loss of revenue for the state. Period.
And the churches, synagogues, and mosques of the states have remained silent. Gay rights have essentially trumped religious freedom in America because of money. And somewhere, someone remembers a wise man saying that “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other....You cannot serve both God and money.”
Rinda Wilson is a resident of Macon.