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Greg Bluestein

GOP activists across Georgia urge revival of ‘religious liberty’ measure

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Gov. Nathan Deal announces that he was vetoing religious liberty legislation at a Monday press conference in his ceremonial office. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

Gov. Nathan Deal announces that he was vetoing religious liberty legislation. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

A majority of grassroots Republican activists in Georgia’s 14 congressional districts this weekend passed resolutions that urge lawmakers to revive the controversial “religious liberty” legislation — and blast Gov. Nathan Deal for vetoing this year’s version of the measure.

Mike Griffin (right), the public affairs director for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, steps away as Timothy Head (at podium), national executive director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, speaks against the veto. Conservative groups held a press conference Tuesday to address Gov. Nathan Deal's veto of the religious liberty bill. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

Conservative groups blast Gov. Nathan Deal’s “religious liberty” veto. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

Tanya Ditty, the state director of the Concerned Women for America’s Georgia chapter, said nine districts across the state approved a resolution over the weekend to “implore the Governor to ignore all threats of Fortune 500 companies, global elites, sports teams, and ideologues of the Left who trample on our First Amendment rights.”

In most districts, the vote on resolutions followed the dizzying maneuvering to be a delegate to the Republican National Convention. In west Georgia’s Third District, a debate over a separate resolution to “censure” Deal sparked opposition from state Sen. Josh McKoon, the sponsor of the legislation, who said it was not “constructive for the GOP to lash out at the governor.”

Expect a version of the resolution expressing “deep disappointment” with Deal’s veto to resurface at June’s state GOP meeting (making it even more unlikely that Deal will attend the confab).

Activists in the First, Second, Third, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, 10th and 14th districts endorsed versions of the resolution, according to Ditty. The resolution wasn’t voted on in the Fourth, Fifth, 11th, 12th and 13th, she said.

Here’s a copy of a copy of a standard version that Ditty sent us. Keep in mind that some districts made alterations to the language:

WHEREAS, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”; and

WHEREAS, since the founding of our nation, religious liberty has always been recognized as a preeminent human right; and

WHEREAS, our courts, legal system, and government bureaucracies are diminishing our free exercise rights as they increasingly show a willingness to subjugate religious liberty to leftist politically correct ideology; and

WHEREAS, the Georgia Senate and Georgia House of Representatives passed House Bill 757, the Free Exercise Protection Act (FEPA) in an effort to restrict our courts, legal system, and government bureaucracies from diminishing our free exercise rights; and

WHEREAS, Governor Nathan Deal has repeatedly made public statements that he would sign a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) modeled on the 1993 federal RFRA for which he voted as a congressman;

THEREFORE, we, the Delegates of 6th District Republican Convention, express our appreciation to the Georgia Senate and the Georgia House of Representatives for passing FEPA to protect Georgia’s citizens from adverse local and state governmental actions against religious citizens for peacefully exercising their religious faith; and

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Delegates of ___ District Republican Convention urge the Senate and House to continue such efforts in 2017, particularly by passing an uncompromised RFRA modeled on the  federal RFRA as our State GOP Convention overwhelmingly resolved in 2015; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Delegates of ___ District Republican Convention convey our deep disappointment with the Governor of Georgia and our disapproval of his veto of HB 757; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge the Governor to uphold his constitutional duty to protect our First Amendment Free Exercise rights as Georgia citizens in the same way as he has already done when he supported the federal RFRA, without any so-called anti-discrimination language either amended to the bill or in separate bills which would have the effect of undermining religious liberty, and to keep his word to sign state legislation modeled on the federal RFRA. We implore the Governor to ignore all threats of Fortune 500 companies, global elites, sports teams, and ideologues of the Left who trample on our First Amendment rights

More: Inside the deepening rift in Georgia over the ‘religious liberty’ bill