Mississippi Baptist Convention Calls For Support Of Religious Freedom BillBy Jeffrey Hess | Published 03 Mar 2014 07:21pm |
Today is the deadline for a controversial bill to come out of committee in the Mississippi legislature that some say could lead to the legalized discrimination of gay people in the state. As MPB Jeffrey Hess reports, a leading Baptist group is coming out strong in support of the bill.
The Christian Action Commission, which is an arm of the Mississippi Baptist Convention called on law makers to support the bill and included a letter addressed to Speaker of the House Phillip Gunn that claimed that the bill enshrine new protections for Mississippians to practice their religion.
Dr. Jimmy Porter with the Action Commission says all religious people in the state need protections from being compelled to act against their religious beliefs.
"And it is really not just attacking somebody now but it is trying to protect yourself in the future. Because when we look at what is happening around the world we see that, especially Christianity, appears to us and appears to me is being shoved out the back door in our culture," Porter said.
Porter says claims that the bill would lead to open discrimination of gay residents is an intentional misrepresentation designed to confuse the issue.
But critics of bill, including Jed Oppenheim with the A-C-L-U, say there is no question that the bill would lead to discrimination of many groups including and beyond gay and lesbian resident.
"Business owners, for profit businesses can start discrimination in an obvious way that for many decades we have been fighting in Mississippi to get beyond," Oppenheim said.
The bill is before a house committee which will likely amend it to be more limited later today.
Speaker Gunn says he never saw the letter but considers the back and forth over the bill part of the process.
"Certainly support religious freedom. We are looking at that bill. I have read it once and have some thoughts about it. Like all other bills up here it is a process and we are going to look through it and see what we can come to an agreement on," Gunn said.
If the committee does not take action today the bill will die....if that happens, it will also kill a popular portion that would add 'in god we trust' to the state seal.
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