Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill yesterday that supporters say will assure unfettered practice of religion without government interference but that opponents worry could lead to state-sanctioned discrimination against gays and lesbians.
The bill, called the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act, will become law July 1. It also will add “In God We Trust” to the state seal.
The whole point of this law is to empower Christian supremacism.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN6) recently complained of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s veto of a “religious liberty” bill in Arizona, that “tolerance is a two-way street” and “people with religious beliefs have to be respected”. The “terrible intolerance afoot in the United States” she refers to is the Constitutional inability to transform diverse, disjointed, and contradictory assertions of Christian faith into executable law.
This is much similar to the words of Tony Perkins, quoted by the Associated Press, in praise of the Mississippi law:
Perkins said Mississippi becomes the 19th state to enact its own religious-practices law since 1996.
“Those who understand the importance and cherish the historic understanding of religious freedom are grateful for leaders who respond to fact and not fictitious claims of those who are trying to quarantine faith within the walls of our churches or homes,” Perkins said in a statement.
The obvious question would be the simple turnabout. What would any Christian say if they walked into a store, and based solely on the presence of a graven image such as a cross necklace, was told, “We don’t serve your kind here”?
Certes, they cannot complain, can they? After all, “tolerance is a two-way street”. And that, according to Republicans, conservatives, and “middle Americans” with deeply held “family values”, means we must institutionalize discrimination.
Of course, this is Mississippi, where they cannot even properly pretend that anti-abortion laws are about women’s health and safety.
No, really, the governor crowed about it when signing an untenable anti-abortion bill into law. We ought not be surprised that the courts threw out the law.
But in the same spirit, we might also note that the so-called religious freedom law also reiterates Mississippi’s institutional religious faith by appending a faith motto to the state seal.
Which, I suppose, isn’t so problematic in and of itself. I mean, it’s not like anybody of importance ever said anything like, “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven”, right? Politics before faith before decency. It’s the Christian way. Or maybe it’s just the Mississippi way.
Associated Press. “Bryant signs controversial religious-freedom bill”. Mississippi Business Journal. April 4, 2014.
Gandy, Phillip A., et al. Senate Bill No. 26812 (As Sent to Governor). 2014.
Black, Eric. “Michele Bachmann endorses tolerance”. MinnPost. March 5, 2014.
Anderson, Roslyn. “Gov. Bryant signs abortion bill”. MS News Now. April 16, 2012.
National Council of Churches of Christ in America. Bible: Revised Standard Version. (n.d.)