The day after Easter, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced he will veto House Bill 757, also known as the "Religious Freedom Protection Act and the Pastor Protection Act"---a bill that was designed to protect religious freedom, not discriminate against homosexuals.
Gov. Deal, a professing Christian, is saying "no" to biblical Christians, while saying yes" to the homosexual community and their advocates.
Some had said they believed he would, in the end, stand with the bill and religious liberty. Sadly, they were wrong.
This battle in Georgia, is not unlike the larger battle being waged in states across the country.
And it is not an unfamiliar decision that each of us are called upon to make in our hearts, if not in the public square.
The Atlanta Journal reported yesterday as breaking news, "Nathan Deal vetoes Georgia's 'religious liberty' bill."
They reported the bill had "created a wave of criticism from gay rights groups and business leaders and presented him with one of the most consequential challenges he's faced since he was elected to Georgia's top office."
He caved. And there will be consequences. Decisions have consequences.
Homosexual activists and their allies will notch it as another victory.
Conservatives, and biblical Christians will deepen their resolve to stand for biblical Christianity, including some biblical Christians in the Georgia State Legislature.
The bill--HB 757, was similar to others that have come before state legislatures in recent months.
The bill mirrors language in the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was signed by President Bill Clinton and adopted by a number of states, which requires government to "prove a compelling governmental interest" before it interferes with a person's exercise of religion. And it includes a clause saying it could not be used to allow discrimination banned by state and federal law.
Clearly the Governor has made a political decision based on the threats of a number of businesses that have said they will leave Georgia if the governor doesn't veto the bill.
The Atlanta Falcons NFL football team, the Super Bowel committee, Walt Disney Co., Atlanta based Coca-Cola Company and other local businesses have threatened consequences to the state if the governor doesn't veto the bill.
Hollywood promised they would completely pull out of the state if there was no veto, removing the nearly $2 billion movie industry in the state annually.
So, he caved.
As he made his announcement the day following Easter that he would submit and veto, further undermining religious liberty, it seemed strange that he would have also attempted to publicly "wash his hands of the matter" putting it in the hands of others, making his strongest case using Scripture---a striking parallel to another place and time.
His argument is the point that is relevant to all of us regardless of where we live in this country.
Back on March 3, the Atlanta Journal reported the Governor's reasoning:
Standing in the lobby of a government building after a ribbon-cutting ceremony, he laid out a lengthy condemnation of the measure from a biblical perspective, first noting that he is a Southern Baptist who took religion courses at Mercer University.
“What the New Testament teaches us is that Jesus reached out to those who were considered the outcasts, the ones that did not conform to the religious societies’ view of the world … We do not have a belief in my way of looking at religion that says we have to discriminate against anybody. If you were to apply those standards to the teaching of Jesus, I don’t think they fit.”
He then turned to a passage from the Gospel of John that showed Jesus reaching out to an outcast.
“What that says is we have a belief in forgiveness and that we do not have to discriminate unduly against anyone on the basis of our own religious beliefs. We are not jeopardized, in my opinion, by those who believe differently from us. We are not, in my opinion, put in jeopardy by virtue of those who might hold different beliefs or who may not even agree with what our Supreme Court said the law of the land is on the issue of same-sex marriage. I do not feel threatened by the fact that people who might choose same-sex marriages pursue that route.”
The governor said he and his wife Sandra, who will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this summer, believe in “traditional marriage” between a man and a woman.
“But that does not mean that those who hold to that view should feel like they are threatened by those who have a different point of view,” he said.
“I hope that we can all just take a deep breath, recognize that the world is changing around us, and recognize that it is important that we protect fundamental religious beliefs,” he said. “But we don’t have to discriminate against other people in order to do that. And that’s the compromise that I’m looking for.”I would suspect that those Christians who have been fined, jailed, bankrupted, dragged through court and socially flogged by homosexuals and their allies because they declined to bake a "gay wedding cake" or take a "gay wedding picture" or sign a "gay wedding certificate" feel more "jeopardized" than the governor would know.
And he found the compromise he was "looking for" ---in Scripture of all places.
Franklin Graham, has been taking a public stand on this matter, asking Christians to pray that the governor would stand on the side of religious freedom and biblical teaching---he did neither.
This puts the light on LGBT activists who have worked to make this a "civil rights" issue, rather than a moral issue---actually giving special rights and privileges to those confused about their sexuality, while discriminating against Christians who hold actual biblical beliefs and teaching on the matter.
Ethnicity does not equate with sexual behavior. This is not "civil rights," it's "special rights" at the expense of religious rights, liberty and freedom.
The Religious Left works to use Scripture, often out of context and carefully chosen, to achieve "the compromise" Gov. Nathan Deal was "looking for."
The Atlanta Journal is correct. This will be a consequential decision for the governor.
Most of us are not, nor will we be governors or political leaders.
However, our decisions are also consequential.
The question is: Are we looking for a compromise? Or are we willing to stand for biblical truth? Not only on the matter of human sexuality, marriage and family---but on the whole of God's Word?
Martin Luther knew his decision to nail 95 thesis on the door of the church would have consequences.
Standing before the church leaders at The Diet of Worms in 1521, he was grilled about what he had written---and what he believed about the Bible and the church. Perhaps the leaders were giving him a bit of wiggle room if he wanted to walk back any of his 95 concerns.
He didn't intend to walk back anything.
The church leaders had begun to feel some of his answers were more than they wanted to hear, and were not what they wanted to hear, so the Orator of the Empire demanded Luther skip the "subtlety and sophistry" asking "will you recant what you have written, or no?"
To which Luther replied: "On this I take my stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen."
Be Faithful. Be Fearless.