The following letter from J. Robert White, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, has been shared with pastors around the state. With Dr. White’s permission, the letter is now being made available for all Georgia Baptists to view.
This is an urgent matter that needs your help and the help of your church members.
We need for you and your congregation to contact your representative who serves in the Georgia House. It will take only a few minutes to do this and it is critical because it involves the protection of individuals and faith-based businesses, for profit and not for profit, as well as ministers and churches.
I trust you hold the same conviction that I do, that we must do all in our ability to protect our churches, our ministers and our people from encroachment upon our deeply held religious convictions. We are all familiar with the cases of the florist, the photographer and the baker who refused to serve the homosexual marriage. Did they have the right to do that? Absolutely. Based upon their religious convictions, protected by the U.S. Constitution, there can be no law either to establish religion or to prevent the free exercise of religion. You and I know that the free exercise of religion includes all of life, not just in the church on Sunday.
We are told, and it has been demonstrated that federal protection is not enough. We need that same protection at the state level. Our Senate recently added an amendment to the Pastor Protection Act, HB 757, which adds the protection we need. The bill is now back in the House where there is a threat to add language that would remove protection from for profit, faith-based businesses, such as a Hobby Lobby.
Please ask your people to contact their state representative and respectfully ask him/her to pass HB 757 as amended by the Senate without changing the language of the bill. It would help if you would provide the phone number and email of your representative for your people, as they may not know how to find it. By the way, if you and your congregation would also contact the Governor’s office and the Speaker’s office, it will add strength to our effort.
Thank you for your help. Time is critical since the legislation will be dealt with this next week.
Grateful for your ministry,
J. Robert White