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Jim GallowayJim Galloway

Catholic bishops on ‘religious liberty’ fight: Communication needed more than legislation

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Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory. AJC file

Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory. AJC file

The fight over same-sex marriage and ‘religious liberty’ legislation has echoed through the state Capitol for three years now.

Last year, Catholic bishops in Georgia – including the Most Rev. Wilton Gregory, archbishop of Atlanta – exited the fray. They declared their support for religious freedom, but couldn’t endorse legislation that would “discriminate against any individual.”

Their reaction to Gov. Nathan Deal’s decision to veto HB 757 indicates that they won’t be part of next year’s backlash in the Legislature, either. Emphasis ours:

…While we and the other Catholic bishops in the United States support the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), we do not support any implementation of RFRA in a way that will discriminate against any individual. Indeed, the dignity of each individual is the basis for religious liberty.…

We fervently support religious liberty guaranteed by the United States and Georgia constitutions and we respect those who seek to enhance those freedoms through legislation. Governor Nathan Deal has announced his intention to veto HB 757 and the debate will, thus, continue.

Under these circumstances, the general well-being of the state requires that all respectfully acknowledge the worthy motivations on each side and progress into a future of dialogue which, more than continually revising legislative language, will focus on greater compassion and mercy so that every individual can develop his or her full potential.