Georgia GOP rejects a ‘religious liberty’ litmus test for gov candidates

Supporters of the “religious liberty” measure at the Georgia statehouse. AJC file photo.

The Georgia GOP decided against imposing a litmus test on “religious liberty” legislation for the Republican candidates for governor, adopting a resolution Saturday that supported the controversial measure without including a pledge for gubernatorial contenders to back it.

The compromise came after bitter debate at the Georgia GOP’s state committee over a proposal that initially called for the candidates to pledge their support for a state version of the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act that would have put Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle in a bind.

The activists instead overwhelmingly backed a resolution pushing candidates to “commit to advancing the cause of religious liberty” without prodding them to sign a pledge.

It came after a remarkable agreement over the language between Georgia GOP chair John Watson, a favorite of the party’s establishment wing who was elected to lead the fractious party in June, and Mike Crane, a former state senator who is about as anti-establishment as they come.

Read the whole story on MyAJC: Georgia GOP nixes ‘religious liberty’ litmus test

Here’s the full text of the resolution:

RESOLUTION URGING GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES’ TO SIGN THE SUPPORT RFRA LEGISLATION

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 federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) restored religious rights being eroded by federal laws and policies, ensuring that the federal government cannot substantially burden religious liberty without a compelling state interest and with the least restrictive means; and

WHEREAS, Because the 1993 RFRA applies only to federal laws and policies and cannot protect religious freedom against many forms of State and local government action that infringe upon religious liberty, over 30 states, by either statute or judicial decree, have provided similar federal RFRA protections at the state level;

and

WHEREAS, The Republican National Committee, recognizing the continued threats from the radical left, urged in its 2015 Resolution Affirming Religious Freedom Restoration Acts for the remaining states to “enact laws that mirror the federal RFRA to protect citizens’ rights to lead all aspects of their lives according to their deeply held religious beliefs”; and

WHEREAS, The Georgia State COP Convention delegates overwhelmingly passed resolutions in 2015 and 2016 urging their elected officials to pass a state RFRA without any amendments that could weaken the bill, and also urged passage of other religious-liberty protections; 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, only to see it vetoed by the Governor’s pen; and

WHEREAS, Protecting religious liberty continues to be a primary concern of grassroots Republicans, and passing a state level RFRA that mirrors the federal RFRA is the best place to begin such efforts in Georgia,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED. That we urge that all Republican gubernatorial candidates support a state level RFRA that mirrors the federal RFRA and commit to advancing the cause of religious liberty during their possible tenure as Governor and promote this idea throughout their campaigns and service to the people of Georgia.”


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