Update: Since publishing this story, we’ve learned that Governor Bryant signed this bill into law on Tuesday, April 5th, 2016.
On Wednesday, March 30th, the state of Mississippi passed the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience From Government Discrimination Act”, which protects individuals and organizations from having to offer services—like performing marriages for same-sex couples—in opposition to a “sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction”. You can read the full bill here.
Specifically, the bill offers protection for people who believe marriage should be recognized as the union of one man and woman, sexual relations should be reserved to such a marriage, and that whether someone is male or female refers to “an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.”
The bill explains it is in the state’s best interest to protect the rights and freedom of faith-based charities and educational institutions because these organizations provide “essential social services to the poor, and educational opportunities to the next generation.”
The writer(s) of the bill sought to assure readers the purpose is not to take away the rights of the LGBT community, but instead protect the rights of those who feel they cannot perform certain services because of their religious beliefs. “In a pluralistic society, in which people of good faith hold more than one view of marriage, it is possible for the government to recognize same-sex marriage without forcing persons with sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions to conform.”
The Mississippi bill follows closely on the heels of Georgia’s Governor Deal vetoing a similar bill. The question hangs in the air whether Mississippi Governor Bryant will follow suit.
In the midst of the difficult decisions political leaders are having to make and the sheer divisiveness surrounding the religious freedom debate, it’s important to pray for our leaders—whether they are political or religious—to know what to do and how to respond. Another thing to think about is how best to reach out to the LGBT community and offer them the gospel, in love and sincerity.
What do you think? What ways have you found to best support our leaders?