I have always been concerned with what I have considered my rights and privileges as both a woman and a United States citizen. In recent years however, I have increasingly seen efforts by both politicians and evangelicals to limit those rights and privileges for all women. When making efforts to place limits on those rights, politicians have increasingly turned to religious dogma to justify imposing new laws on all women. Josh McKoon, a Georgia State Senator, has once again stated his intention to introduce a “Religious freedom” bill at the next session of the State Legislature. Following is an open letter to the Senator outlining my objections:
Mr. Josh McKoon
18 Capitol Sq.319 CLOB
Atlanta, Ga 30334
Dear Mr. McKoon,
We have all seen in the news that you are planning to re-introduce a “Religious freedom” [Senate bill 377] bill in the next session of the Georgia legislature. I am disappointed in this plan, and I would like for you to consider some of the reasons for my disappointment.
1. The 1st amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads as follows: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. If one is to have freedom of religion, then no one should have the practice of any religion that they choose not to practice, forced upon them. One can freely practice their own religion without holding others hostage to their beliefs. I recently followed a story in the news about a teacher in Louisiana that actually engaged in active harassment of a Buddhist student, in an effort to force him to conform to her idea of religious faith.
2. The practice of inviting “accepted” religious faith ministers to open public meetings such as city council meetings etc., while excluding those considered “unacceptable’ is to actively exclude some citizens of their right to participate in the conduct of government business.
3. The Bible in Matthew 6:5, quotes Jesus as saying “and when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men.”
4. The Catholic Church, as a church has not been asked to provide their members with birth control, or any other form of health insurance coverage, the Catholic church as a BUSINESS, however should be required to provide coverage for any type of health care.
5. The “sincerely held beliefs” of any citizen gives them the right to practice those beliefs, but it does not and should not give them the right to impose those beliefs on any other citizen, regardless of the relationship between those people [employer/employee, teacher/student, Doctor/patient, etc].
Article IV Section 2. of the Constitution states: “The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States”. Any law which provides any organization of any type the ability to discriminate on any basis, has already violated the constitution of the United States by providing an accepted reason to deprive certain citizen of their rights as citizens of the United States.
It is my considered opinion that it is the duty of all legislators to do the business of the people, all of the people, regardless of race, religion, gender or any other condition of life, and that time in the governing bodies would be better spent if all elected officials would ask themselves these questions:
Is this good for my constituents? Is it fair to all of my constituents? Is this the right thing to do?
I believe the only religious freedom bill that should ever be considered or passed, is one that will establish a clear and permanent separation of church and state.
Thank you for your time and attention.
_______________________________________About June Edwards: Prior to moving to Georgia, June lived in Jacksonville, Florida. June is a staunch activist for equality and a member of UniteWomen.org – Georgia.
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