LAST WEEK: DOES FAYETTE NEED TO PROCLAIM “RELIGIOUS LIBERTY”?
Fayette County’s newly adopted “religious liberty” resolution, put forth by Board of Commissioners Vice Chair Randy Ognio, was meant as both a local statement and to support Senate Bill 233 currently in the Georgia legislature. Like the state bill, the local measure — whose language was adapted from House Resolution 514 in the U.S. Congress in 2015 — claims to protect the ability of citizens to exercise their religious beliefs unless a “compelling government interest” can justify doing otherwise.
The resolution states in part, “Fayette County shall not infringe upon the ability of individuals to act in accordance with their sincerely held religious beliefs; and… condemns any behavior by any other government that limits the ability of individuals to express their religious beliefs.” Attendees at the Jan. 11 commission meeting included both supporters and opponents of the measure, and discussion included concerns about the impact of such a statement on local business development.
We asked what others in the community had to say, and here are some of the many replies we received:
The Fayette Chamber believes that inclusion, diversity and free enterprise are keys to creating a welcoming, collaborative and prosperous business climate. We support ideas and public policy that protect the rights and freedoms afforded every citizen in our U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. – Fayette Chamber of Commerce
I find the Religious Freedom bill both duplicitous and self-serving. We either have a democracy that serves all the citizens or a theocracy that favors citizens who observe the "correct" religion. I personally do not want my government tampering with my religion or my religion tampering with my government. — Charles Davenport
If a person cannot figure out how to run a business without discrimination and bigotry, then they probably shouldn't own a business. If Fayette County is to adhere to the equal protections clause of the Constitution, atheist business owners must be allowed to deny service to any and all religions they do not want to "participate" in. — Anonymous in PTC
The Fayette County commissioners' proclamation for "religious freedom" is a divisive statement in a community that strives to work together. The promise and commitment of the commissioners is to represent, serve and protect the interest of all of its law-abiding citizens. This proclamation does not honor that commitment. — Ralph Ferguson
My incontrovertible conclusion is this was just unnecessary, ill-conceived political posturing taken by the commission to the overwhelming detriment of Fayette County and its collective citizenry. – Terrance K. Williamson, President, Fayette County NAACP
Churches and those who proclaim to be messengers of God should not need "religious liberty." They should love and serve all regardless of belief. WWJD? — Rawls Whittlesey
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and should not have the dogmas of others held over them as a weapon in life or in commerce. – Morgan Summerfield
Better to tackle real problems of rural health care, immigration parity and infrastructure repairs for the betterment of all Georgians, than to address minutia regarding cake-baking biases. – Ellen Hunter Ulken
Jill Howard Church for the AJC