So Georgia passed their hotly debated religious freedom bill, allowing faith-based objections to serving gays. What could be stronger than the voice of the people?
At least two things: Pro sports magnates and mainstream media. Together, they’re shouting down the opposition in a drive to get Gov. Nathan Deal to veto the bill.
Team associations, like the NFL and NCAA, threaten boycotts. Team owners preach equality and tolerance. Religious voices – except for one exception, which we’ll mention later – essentially get a gag order.
Typical for much of the coverage is yesterday’s Washington Post story:
The NFL issued a stern warning Friday to the state of Georgia and the city of Atlanta, a reminder that if a “religious liberty” bill is signed into law by the governor, it could affect whether the city is chosen to host a Super Bowl.
The bill states that, with few exceptions, the government may not “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a law, rule, regulation, ordinance or resolution of general applicability.” It would also protect faith-based groups from penalties if, in the absence of contracts, they refuse to provide “social, educational or charitable services that violate such faith-based organization’s sincerely held religious belief.” Those groups would also be protected if they chose not to hire an employee whose religious beliefs are in contrast with the organization’s.
The purpose of the bill, which has gone from the state legislature to the governor, is, according to one legislator, to provide a response to the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage. The NFL joined hundreds of businesses in Georgia that see it as discriminatory.
“NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Whether the laws and regulations of a state and local community are consistent with these policies would be one of many factors NFL owners may use to evaluate potential Super Bowl host sites.”
Read more at GetReligion.org…