Republican-controlled states have been proposing and passing “religious freedom” laws to retaliate against legalized same-sex marriages. The Daily Beast noted Georgia is the newest state to propose such a law, which turns out to be the most dangerous.
The “Georgia Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (GRFRA) is primarily designed to discriminate against homosexuals. However, as Jay Michaelson of The Daily Beast points out, Georgia’s law is the “strictest.” Essentially, anyone can protect virtually any action by saying it’s a religious exercise.
“This is a preemptive strike against the LGBT community,” said the executive director of Georgia Equality, Jeff Graham.
The law’s language can be interpreted to include archaic, Old Testament teachings that say its okay to beat children and discriminate against women, while maintaining its true goal of discrimination against homosexuals. Graham also said that people have used religion to curtail child-abuse investigations.
“We have found cases where people used their religious views as an excuse to impede an investigation into child-endangerment and child-abuse charges,” he said. “They were not ultimately successful, but they did slow down the investigations.”
Georgia’s law poses a serious problem because it undermines the established rule of law and allows people to use religion to make up their own laws, said retired attorney Mike Bowers. According to Bowers, Georgia’s law is “unequivocally an excuse to discriminate….[P]ermitting citizens to opt-out of laws because of a so-called burden on the exercise of religion in effect ‘would permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.’”
Using religion to undermine established law is a dangerous endeavor because, as Bowers noted, it gives citizens the ability to create their own, individual laws. When many people within a society are allowed to create their own laws, it deteriorates a society’s moral and ethical cohesion.