Comments on religious freedom

From Mississippi’s “Protecting freedom of conscience from government discrimination act”:

The sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions protected by this act are the belief or conviction that:

(a) Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman;

(b) Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage; and Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.

Any person employed or acting on behalf of the state government who has authority to authorize or license marriages, including, but not limited to, clerks, registers of deeds or their deputies, may seek recusal from authorizing or licensing lawful marriages based upon or in a manner consistent with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction … .

From a newspaper editorial Wednesday in Philadelphia, Miss.:

Religious liberty matters. Christian values matter. But the Mississippi Legislature has solved a nonexistent problem and telegraphed a message of intolerance, discrimination and bigotry to the world.

The negative reaction to Mississippi’s law was predictable, especially given our state’s dark past of discrimination and even murder here in Neshoba County.

Letter from James McCormick, Cumming:

As a retired pastor, I want to thank Gov. Nathan Deal for his veto of the religious liberty bill. I believe it was the right thing to do. As a pastor in Mississippi during the ’50s and ’60s, I have vivid memories of people alleging that black people bear the “curse of Ham” (Genesis 9), condemned by God to be slaves or at least second-class citizens forever. Those “sincerely held religious beliefs” were used to justify denial of access to restaurants, hotels, churches, integrated schools, restrooms, drinking fountains, and voting booths. Are proponents of religious liberty legislation wanting to return to that kind of discrimination, this time directed at same-sex couples, in the name of religion? That doesn’t look and sound like Jesus to me. In his first-century world, Jesus embraced all of the outcasts of the prevailing culture: tax collectors, prostitutes, Romans, Samaritans, lepers, the poor. His most severe rebukes were directed at religious bigots who used their authority to hurt the most vulnerable of God’s children. I do not fear that my legitimate religious freedom will be abridged by the power of government. The Constitution provides safeguards against that. I fear the distortion of authentic Christianity by what people intend to do with their “sincerely held religious beliefs.”