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religious freedom Archives – Concerned Women for America

CWA of Georgia Responds to Amazon’s HQ2 Pick

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Dear friends,
For over a year, Georgia courted Amazon to bring its second headquarters (known as HQ2) to the state. And for over a year, as CWA of Georgia fought tirelessly to pass a state-level Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), all we heard was Amazon would never do business with Georgia if a religious freedom bill were to be passed and signed into law.

This week, Amazon announced they would locate their new HQ2 in three states – two of which have RFRA laws!  CWA of Georgia joined in a press release with other faith-based organizations in response to Amazon’s announcement.  You can be assured that CWA of Georgia will continue to be on the front lines in 2019 working aggressively for the passage of a state-level RFRA.

Tanya Ditty
State Director

State Legislative Update: Adoptions, Hate Crimes, and Religious Freedom

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The 2018 legislative session is at its halfway mark, and CWA of Georgia is actively representing you at the State Capitol on issues that are important to you.  I wanted to update you on three issues that we have been working on very closely.

Adoption and Foster Care Legislation
The House and Senate passed HB 159, the massive rewrite of Georgia’s adoption code which hadn’t been updated since 1990. Because faith-based adoption agency protections were removed from HB 159, Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) has introduced SB 375, the “Keep Faith in Adoption and Foster Care Act.”  SB 375 will ensure that the State of Georgia will continue to respect the special missions of faith-based child-placing agencies as this State has always done. This State has the constitutional duty to proactively protect the first freedom of the First Amendment for religious persons and their institutions.

Status: HB 375 is working its way through the Senate. I testified in support of SB 375 at the subcommittee hearing. It should be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week.

Action: Call or e-mail your state senator and urge him/her to support SB 375 when it comes to the Senate floor for a vote. Click here to locate your state senator.  Be sure to let them know that you are a member of Concerned Women for America of Georgia.

Please pray that SB 375 will pass both the House and Senate and that Gov. Deal will sign the bill. The spiritual warfare is great on this bill. There are many who want faith-based adoption agencies and faith-based foster care organizations eliminated in Georgia.

Hate Crimes Legislation
Three state-level “hate crimes” bills have been filed in the Georgia legislature. HB 660 has been introduced by Rep. Megan Hanson (R-Brookhaven). HB 663 and SB 316 have been introduced by Rep. Karen Bennett (D-Stone Mountain) and Sen. Lester Jackson (D-Savannah), respectively.  All three bills would add additional punishments for crimes committed against protected classes of people based on race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, mental disability, and physical disability.

Please read our talking points concerning the dangers of “hate crime” laws.

 Status: HB 660, HB 663, and SB 316 were heard in subcommittee this week, but no votes were taken. I testified at all three hearings in opposition to the bills. Read my testimony here.

Action: No action is needed at this time. 

Religious Freedom Legislation
The fight to pass modest religious freedom legislation still continues! SB 233, a state-level Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that provides religious liberty protections for people of all faiths living in Georgia, is languishing in committee.

Watch this video that explains why Georgia must pass SB 233, a state-level Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Action: No action is needed at this time.

Pray that SB 233 moves and that the Senate will have an opportunity to vote for the bill.

Additional Legislation
We are monitoring several other bills on issues such as casinos, marijuana, sex trafficking, and pornography. Click here for the latest updates on CWA of Georgia’s targeted list of bills.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  – Galatians 6:9

Once again, thank you for both your prayers and action.

Tanya Ditty
State Director

You Need to Watch This Video

By | Georgia | No Comments

The fight to pass modest religious freedom legislation is alive and well in Georgia! Watch this video that explains why Georgia must pass SB 233, a state-level Religious Freedom Restoration Act. After watching the video, please take action, let others know about the video and pray.

Take Action
Contact Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Rules Chairman Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-District 53) and urge them to support SB 233 and to allow the bill to move with no amendments. Be sure to let them know that you are a member of Concerned Women for America of Georgia.

Lt. Governor Casey Cagle
Complete the contact page and/or call his office at (404) 656-5030.

Rules Committee Chairman Sen. Jeff Mullis
E-mail him and/or call his office at (404) 656-0057

Please alert your friends and family to this video and action item.

Background

For the past five years, people of faith in Georgia, for the most part, have been ignored and marginalized by top leadership – specifically Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, and Speaker David Ralston (R-District 7).  Religious freedom bills have either been vetoed or have languished in committees where they eventually died.

Last year, Sen. Marty Harbin (R-District 16) filed SB 233, a state-level religious freedom bill that mirrors the 1993 Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.  SB 233 provides religious liberty protections for people of all faiths living in Georgia. Unfortunately, Senate leadership hid behind Gov. Nathan Deal’s threat to veto the bill and refused to move the bill forward.

Concerned Women for America of Georgia, along with other faith-based groups, have been on the front lines at the State Capitol fighting for the passage of a religious freedom bill.  Supporting religious freedom is paramount because it is a fundamental right every Georgian enjoys and must not be infringed upon. That is why we are asking Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle to allow SB 233 to move out of the Rules Committee and on to the Senate floor for a vote.

Educate yourself on the need for a state Religious Freedom Restoration Action in Georgia. Click here for CWA resources.

Pray that Lt. Governor and Sen. Mullis will understand that religious freedom must be protected here in Georgia. Pray their hearts will be moved to allow SB 233 to be voted on the floor of the Senate.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  – Galatians 6:9

Once again, thank you for both your prayers and action.

Tanya Ditty
State Director

Thought Crimes Bills Filed in Georgia Legislature

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Three state-level “hate crimes” bills have been filed in the Georgia legislature. HB 660 has been introduced by Rep. Megan Hanson (R-Brookhaven). HB 663 and SB 316 have been introduced by Rep. Karen Bennett (D-Stone Mountain) and Sen. Lester Jackson (D-Savannah) respectively.  All three bills would add additional punishments for crimes committed against protected classes of people based on race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, mental disability, and physical disability.

Georgia is one of five states in the country that does not have some sort of state-level “hate crimes” law, and it needs to stay that way. “Hate crime” laws violate the Constitution’s 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law, and they threaten freedom of speech, assembly, and religion.

Click here to read talking points.

Should HB 660, HB 663 or SB 316 pass, individuals in Georgia could claim, and courts interpret, that merely expressing one’s sincerely held beliefs is “intimidating” or represents a “threat” of force. “Hate crime” laws are already being used to intimidate and punish people who honor natural sexuality and value marriage as the union of a man and a woman. If a person speaks out against various sexual behaviors, they may be accused of “hate speech” and promoting “hate crimes.”

Would you make four phone calls today to stop these very dangerous bills?

Contact Lt. Governor Casey Cagle (Republican) and Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and respectfully urge them not to allow SB 316 to have a hearing.
#1 – Lt. Governor Casey Cagle
Complete the contact page and/or call his office at (404) 656-5030.

#2 – Sen. Jesse Stone
E-mail him and/or call his office at (404) 463-1314.

#3- Contact the Speaker of the House, David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), and respectfully urge him not to allow HB 660 or HB 663 to have a hearing:
E-mail him and/or call his office at (404) 656-5020.

#4- Contact Rep. Rich Golick, chairman of the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee, and respectfully urge him not to allow HB 660 or HB 663 to have a hearing:
E-mail him and/or call his office at (404) 656-5943.

Be sure to let them know that you are a member of Concerned Women for America of Georgia.

Please pray specifically for Lt. Governor Cagle, Speaker Ralston, Sen. Stone and Rep. Golick. Ask the Lord to move in their hearts and not allow the bills to be heard in committee.

Once again, thank you for both your prayers and action.

Tanya Ditty
State Director
CWA of Georgia
[email protected]

CWA of Georgia: Counting the Cost – The Price of Faith in America Today

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Barronelle Stutzman, a 72-year-old floral artist who owns and operates Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington, was simply living according to her faith, when she was attacked by the government and the ACLU.

Join CWA of Georgia and other organizations from around the state to hear Barronelle tell her personal story of faith in the midst of religious persecution.

Be sure to include the coupon code CWA when registering to receive $2..00 off the ticket price.

Download event flyer.  Please print and distribute liberally.

 

Urgent! Extend Religious Freedom Protections in Georgia With Just Four Calls

By | Georgia | No Comments

Sen. Marty Harbin (R-Tryone) is seeking to amend HB 257 to include a narrow, modest protection of our religious liberty. The amendment is a local Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). This RFRA applies to all Georgia municipalities, and would merely require municipal governments to give Georgia citizens the same Constitutional protections they enjoy when dealing with the federal government.

The Harbin amendment directly references the federal RFRA, which Gov. Deal voted for in Congress.  And though the amendment is narrower than a statewide RFRA, it is a step in the right direction. It does not guarantee a win in court for a claimant or defendant, but requires the municipal government to honor your exercise of religious freedom unless it has a   compelling interest to the contrary, and uses the least restrictive means necessary to accomplish that interest.

Tomorrow (Thursday, March 30) is the last day of the Georgia legislative session so it is critical that calls be made today to the following four legislators.  Your message: “Support the Harbin amendment to HB 257.” If are reading this alert after 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 29, please call and leave a message. Be sure to let them know that you are a member of Concerned Women for America of Georgia.

Your calls and emails will make a difference.  Your prayers can change the heart of the legislators.

  1. Lt. Governor Casey Cagle – (404) 656-5030 |Contact form
  2. Senate Pro Tempore David Shafer (R-Duluth) – (404) 656-0048 |E-mail
  3. Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) – (404) 463-1366 | E-mail
  4. Contact your state senator. Click here to locate your state senator.

Sen. Marty Harbin Files Religious Freedom Bill

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Resource Page for Georgia’s Religious Freedom Legislation

Religious Freedom Alert!
Sen. Marty Harbin (R-Tyrone) filed Senate Bill 233, a state-level religious freedom bill that mirrors the 1993 Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.  CWA of Georgia supported a similar bill in 2015. SB 233 provides religious liberty protections for people of all faiths living in Georgia.

Action item: Contact your state senator and urge him or her to support SB 233 when brought to the floor for a vote. Click here to find your state senator.

Educate yourself on the need for a state Religious Freedom Restoration Action in Georgia. Read through the resources provided by below.

Pray that our state legislators, Speaker, Lt. Governor, Speaker of the House and Governor will stand on the side of religious liberty and not buckle to the pressure of corporations who do not see the need to pass a religious liberty bill.

Online Resources

CWA of Georgia Talking Points: Why Georgia need a religious freedom bill.

State Religious Freedom Restoration Act Resources:
This document contains the following:

  • View Historical Timeline of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (As a result of 1997 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Georgians have been left vulnerable to state religious discrimination lawsuits.)
  • Read Remarks by President Bill Clinton (Remarks by President Bill Clinton on signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.)
  • What a Religious Freedom Restoration Act Does and Does Not Do
  • Recent Examples in Georgia of Religious Discrimination (Read actual examples of religious discrimination in Georgia.)

Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act Resources:
The Hobby Lobby/Conestoga Woods Decision

Others:

Religious Liberty is one of CWA’s Seven Core Issues on which we focus our efforts. CWA is concerned about the trend of government to diminish and disregard the God-given inalienable rights of individuals, and are working to see our government strengthen and renew its commitment to respect and protect each individual’s exercise of his God-given inalienable rights. Click to read more.

Update: Georgia Attorney General Back Off Demand for Sermons.

By | Georgia | No Comments

Thank you for your phone calls and e-mails made last week to Gov. Nathan Deal and the Attorney General’s office concerning the ludicrous demands that Dr. Eric Walsh turn over copies of his sermon notes and transcripts to the State of Georgia. Because of public pressure, the Attorney General withdrew their request for Dr. Walsh’s sermon notes and transcripts!

While this was a huge victory, there is still work to do! The demand that Dr. Walsh turn over his sermon notes and transcripts was only one of five egregious requests on the part of the state against its own citizen. As was pointed out by First Liberty Institute’s Senior Counsel Jeremy Dys at the October 26, 2016 press conference, the State of Georgia is also demanding that Dr. Walsh submit the following:

  • Validation of Dr. Walsh’s credentials as a minister
  • Proof that Dr. Walsh has served as a minister with the Seventh-day Adventist denomination
  • Production of any and all contracts Dr. Walsh has, or has ever had, with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, its subsidiaries or affiliates
  • A report to the State of Georgia on how—and how much—he has been compensated for producing and delivering his sermons

This invasive request by the State of Georgia (even though the state claims that Dr. Walsh was not fired on religious grounds) is a disturbing display of injustice, intolerance and outright government overreach into the sacred life of a pastor. The state’s actions in this case are reminiscent of the sort of “monitoring” the great German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer experienced in his time. We must demand an immediate end to this type of anti-religious bigotry on the part of state authorities.

Take Action Today!
On November 1, 2016, Gov. Nathan Deal appointed Chris Carr to replace Sam Olens as Georgia’s Attorney General.  Contact Gov. Deal and urge him to instruct his newly appointed Attorney General to settle Dr. Walsh’s case.
Phone: 404-656-1776 | Online contact form

Contact Attorney General Chris Carr and urge him to settle Dr. Walsh’s case.
Phone: 404-656-3300 | Email

If you made calls last week, please call again. Gov. Deal and Attorney General Carr must hear from you!

Pray that Gov. Deal and the Attorney General will be God-fearing and recognize that they are accountable to Him for each decision and act. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10

Tanya Ditty
State Director

Gov. Nathan Deal’s Georgia: “Pastors, Turn Over Your Sermon Notes.”

By | Georgia | No Comments

The witch hunt against people of faith in Georgia is on the rise. Remember Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran? He was fired by the City of Atlanta for writing a book on the Biblical view of marriage on his own time (read here, here, and here). In 2014, Dr. Eric Walsh accepted a job in Georgia as a district health director with the Georgia Department of Public Health (GPH). However, within a week of being hired, the GPH abruptly fired Dr. Walsh for his religious beliefs (read here and here).

You see, not only is Dr. Walsh a public health expert; he is also a lay minister. According to First Liberty Institute, who filed an anti-discrimination lawsuit in 2014 against the State of Georgia on behalf of Dr. Walsh, shortly after hiring Walsh, “state officials requested copies of his sermons and searched online for others. His sermon topics included following Christ, having compassion on the poor, health, marriage, sexuality, world religions, science, creationism, and more.”  Dr. Walsh was not fired for anything he said or did at work. Dr. Walsh was fired because of what he said outside of work. 

Jeremy Dys, Senior Counsel for First Liberty, said: “If the government is allowed to fire someone over what he said in his sermons, then they can come after any of us for our beliefs on anything. We must ensure every American has the right to talk about their faith at church without getting fired or being barred from public service.” Read First Liberty Institute’s background on the case here.

Fast forward to today.  CWA of Georgia State Director Tanya Ditty attended a press conference (read CWA press release) yesterday at the Georgia State Capitol and listened as First Liberty Institute release this chilling information in their ongoing lawsuit against the State of Georgia, “the State of Georgia served a Request for Production of Documents on Dr. Walsh, which requires Dr. Walsh to surrender copies of all his sermon notes and transcripts.”  In this blatant government overreach by the State Attorney General’s office, the State gave no date limit or specific sermon topic to this request. What this means is that Dr. Walsh must turn over any and all sermon notes, whether written or typed, with no specific time period given. Any notes in Dr. Walsh’s Bible(s), journals, PowerPoint presentations, or even scribbled on a notepad is fair game for the Attorney General’s office.

This should concern all Georgians!  No one in Georgia should be fired from their job over their religious beliefs or over something they said in their church. Should a public school teacher lose his or her job simply because they teach a Sunday school class?  Should employees who work at the State Capitol be fired because they choose to lead a Bible study in their own home? Should an employee with the Department of Juvenile Justice be fired because they work with at-risk youth through a church-sponsored program? Should a receptionist at any state agency be fired for teaching ESL at their church?  According to the State of Georgia, yes they can.

Take Action Today!
Contact Gov. Nathan Deal and urge him to do the following:

  1. Take whatever action is necessary to settle Dr. Walsh’s case.
  2. Instruct the Attorney General not to demand sermon notes.

Phone: 404-656-1776 | Online contact form

Contact the State Attorney General’s Office and urge the Attorney General to withdraw the “Request for Production of Documents” that demands sermons and sermon notes.
Phone: 404-656-3300 | Email

Pray that Gov. Deal and the Attorney General will be God-fearing and recognize that they are accountable to Him for each decision and act. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” Proverbs 9:10.

Additional press conference articles and videos:

Jeremy Dys, an attorney with First Liberty Institute, speaks in defense of Dr. Eric Walsh at a press conference at the Georgia Capitol building. GERALD HARRIS/Index

Jeremy Dys, an attorney with First Liberty Institute, speaks in defense of Dr. Eric Walsh at a press conference at the Georgia Capitol building. GERALD HARRIS/Index

Wake Up Now America!

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Featured speakers: Kris “Tonto” Paronto, Army Ranger and Benghazi survivor; State Senators Josh McKoon, Mike Crane and Marty Harbin; Republican nominee for State Senate Mike Brass; Jane Robbins, American Principles Project; Kevin Shipp, retired CIA agent; Phil Williams, radio talk show host.