It is worth looking again at the misguided efforts around the country -- including here in Missouri -- to adopt so-called "religious freedom" legislation, the effect of which is to treat members of the LGBTQ community as second-class citizens.
This difference of approach may seem like a difference in principle and religious commitment. But, in fact, politics plays into it in many ways, too.
As the AP reported in the story to which I linked you after Deal's name above, "McCrory, a 59-year-old Republican seeking a second term in Raleigh, must mobilize his party's core voters in November. Deal, now 74 and not planning to run again for office, is relatively immune to such pressures. Neither did Deal dwell on social issues in his re-election campaign; instead celebrating Georgia's ranking as the 'No. 1 state for business.'"
Would Deal, also a Republican, cave in to the forces favoring the right to discriminate if he were up for re-election? I don't know. But it seems possible, given that McCrory is doing exactly that.
And what about Deal's statement that "I do not think that we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia."
I agree with him -- unless he's talking about that portion of the faith-based community that thinks gay marriage, despite being now declared the law of the land, is wrong. In that case, discriminatory practices are exactly what would be required if that "religious freedom" bigotry were allowed to be legal, thus protecting religious belief that turns out to be little more than ugly prejudice. As I've said before, this anti-gay stance is no different from the position taken in an earlier time by many Christians who used their faith to defend slavery, segregation, anti-women positions and other evils.
What's at stake here is equality under the law. If the law allows one group of people to be treated differently and, thus, less well than another group, the law fails the constitutional test of equality under the law. The proposed Missouri amendment and the North Carolina law both faith that test, if you ask me, a non-lawyer.
Let's also ask this: Why would people who worship a God who, they say, loves absolutely everyone equally want to adopt legislation (or, in the case of Missouri, a constitutional amendment) that treats people in clearly unequal and bigoted ways?
I have no good answer for that question because, well, there is none.
(By the way, here is a Baptist Press story about a survey from Lifeway Research, which is associated with the Southern Baptist Convention. It indicates a growing number of Americans think religious freedom in the U.S. is being compromised while, at the same time, a growing number also think Christians complain too much about this issue. I'm with the latter group.)
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SATIRE SPOILER ALERT
Enough seriousness (sort of). Here is a Religious News Service quiz about guessing which Republican presidential candidate says things that resemble the words of Jesus. I love that someone at RNS felt it needed to be labeled "Satire." That reminds me of a story about my "Starbeams" column predecessor at The Kansas City Star, Bill Vaughan. One day a columnist named Landon Laird was coming to work on a bus when he overheard two people arguing about a Vaughan column. One person was sure Vaughan was writing satire. The other person thought Vaughan was deadly serious. When Laird got to the office, he came up to Vaughan, told him the story and said, "Bill, why don't you just label your columns 'satire'?" Immediately Vaughan responded, "Landon, why don't you just label your columns 'horse manure'?" (I cleaned that up a bit.)