Georgia Baptist Mission Board Executive Director J. Robert White expressed his appreciation today (Feb. 20) to Senator Greg Kirk, the Georgia Senate, and Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle for their leadership in passing House Bill 757 known as the Pastor Protection Act.
Under the bill unanimously approved in the Georgia House on Feb. 11, clergy cannot be forced to perform a same-sex wedding ceremony. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville), passed 161-0 and now goes to the Senate.
Georgia Baptist Political Affairs Representative Mike Griffin was also instrumental in representing Georgia Baptist concerns and being sure their voice was heard.
“As the bill was amended, it is a victory for First Amendment Protection that includes all Georgians as individuals, organizations and businesses needing protection against adverse government action because of their religious beliefs on marriage. HB 757 passed the Ga Senate 38-14 ensuring equal protection,” he stated.
“In spite of false information, this bill in no way interferes with the stream of commerce in our state and does not create discrimination.”
White said today that, on behalf of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, he is “very thankful that this legislation includes the First Amendment Defense Act. Georgia Baptists, and many other people of faith in Georgia, believe in broad-based First Amendment protection that includes our pastors and our church members.
Believers need protection from adverse legislation
“All Georgia citizens, organizations and businesses need protection from adverse legislation that would infringe upon their religious beliefs regarding marriage, defined in the Bible as the union of one man and one woman.
“It is wrong to accuse persons of discrimination who live and conduct their businesses according to their deeply held religious beliefs. It is error for some to declare their personal freedom to be more valuable than the religious freedom of others.”
White continued, thanking Rep. Tanner and Ralston “for presenting legislation that protects the free exercise of religion by our pastors in Georgia. This protection must be guaranteed for all Georgia citizens.
“We implore the Georgia House to accept the Senate’s leadership on adding this additional protection for all Georgians regarding their religious convictions. To our founding fathers, there was simply nothing more important to our nation than the freedom to live by our religious convictions and to practice our faith free from the tyranny of those who mock our deeply held faith.”