Religious Freedom & Character

Religious Freedom & Character

2016 | Week of April 4 (FOR DAYS AFTER 4/5 ELECTION) | #1145

While we have had our news media and social media sources filled with all things political of late, several other states, led by Republican governors, have been dealing with issues that should be significant to all of us right now and as we head toward the November elections.

We start with South Dakota.  Earlier this year, the South Dakota legislature passed a bill that would have required students in public schools to use the restrooms and locker rooms that corresponded to their biological sex. The bill accommodated students who were uncomfortable with that by requiring schools to provide a private single-user facility. Just as our Student Privacy Protection bill would have done, this bill would have protected the privacy rights of all students, not just a select few.

Last month, Republican South Dakota governor Dennis Daugaard, who had earlier indicated he was likely to sign the bill, vetoed it saying it was a solution looking for a problem and that local school districts are the best equipped to deal with this problem.

Then there’s Georgia, where the state legislature passed a form of a Religious Freedom Restoration Action but had already severely compromised on the bill restricting it to certain religious organizations and stripping out of it protections for business owners. When the bill went to Republican Governor Nathan Deal, who had said he wouldn’t sign the bill unless the major compromises were made, he ultimately vetoed even the bill in the form he said he could support.

And on to North Carolina. In North Carolina, earlier this year the city of Charlotte passed an ordinance that essentially forced all businesses with public restrooms to allow men to use the women’s restroom and women to use the men’s restroom.  The state legislature responded by passing a law that prevents cities from creating non-discrimination policies based on gender identity. The measure also mandates that students in state schools use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender when they were born.  Republican North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, unlike South Dakota Governor Daugaard and Georgia Governor Deal, signed the bill into law.

Most recently we have Mississippi. This week, Republican Governor Phil Bryant signed a bill into law that “protects only three beliefs or convictions: that marriage is between a man and a woman, that sex is “properly reserved to such a marriage,” and that words like “male” and “female” are “objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at birth.”

In all of these situations, the governors faced push-back from the business world, the entertainment world and often from the sports world.  The pressure has been especially intense in North Carolina, with even the Democrat New York Governor Cuomo banning state-sponsored trips to North Carolina in protest and large businesses threatening to leave the state. Mississippi is experiencing similar threats from the business community.

The take-aways from these situations: first, religious freedom is under attack in this country.  We are going to be forced to tolerate and cater to those whose lifestyles are in conflict with our biblical beliefs. When in conflict, the so-called “rights” of the LGBT community, which are nowhere in the US Constitution, are largely trumping religious freedom, which is most definitely in the Constitution.

Second, character matters. The character of our elected officials really matters. I believe what ultimately caused the governors of North Carolina and Mississippi to sign the respective bills into law is their character, just as it is the character of the governors of South Dakota and Georgia that caused them to veto the bills before them.

Talk is cheap. Real integrity and fortitude are not, especially when subjected to the incredible bullying of professional athletics, big business, other political entities and the entertainment world.  Sometimes doing the right thing costs a great deal. But at the end of the day, it is truly always right to do the right thing. These governors weren’t being asked to do something wrong. They were all given the opportunity to do something good and right. Two took the easy way out; two have chosen the hard but right way.

We have a long ways to go before the fall elections. Between now and then, our job as citizens is to judge, as best we can, the true character of those who will be asking for our vote.

This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

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