Saturday, February 22, 2014

Bishop Smith of AZ Reponds to Jim Crow's Return

It's another day to be proud to be an Episcopalian.  Members of my LGBT community who shun the church for thousands of years of persecution certainly are justified. But there are so many wonderful leaders in this church who have finally returned to the fundamental message of Jesus Christ.  All are welcome in this church.  We are a place to find refuge from the sin of churches that divide, devalue and reject the humanity of any group.  Today's example:

The legislature of Arizona has passed what can only be described as 'Jim Crow' laws aimed at the LGBT community.  Based on "sincerely held beliefs" any person can deny another person service. A legislator appear with Anderson Cooper last night appears not to know what he signed, saying it was just to prevent a clergy person from being forced to perform a same-sex marriage.  He was either ignorant or lying.  NO CLERGY PERSON can be FORCED to MARRY ANYONE.  No church, mosque or temple can be forced to offer their worship place for an event that they don't want. 

Bishop Smith of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona issued this statement on their website:
Who among us doesn't want to support religious freedom? This argument seems to be the tactic of some arch-conservative lawmakers, who have convinced our Arizona legislators that it is fine to deny people basic human rights under the guise of religious freedom. Lawmakers in other states and members of both political parties have been astute enough to see what bills like this really are – a wolf in sheep's clothing that masks discrimination under a veneer of piety. Arizona, however, with its propensity for making itself into the political laughing-stock of the nation, has been duped once again. One can only pray that our Governor will, as the Arizona Republic said this morning, “get out her veto pen.”
From the Very Rev. Troy Mendez, an outline of the law and its effects:
What is being proposed?  Actually, several things are being proposed in this bill, including the following:
a)         Enables Discrimination based on “sincerely held beliefs.” The bill expands the term “exercise of religion” to include elements of practice and tacit “observance” of the religion (i.e., enacted beliefs). A person’s “religious practice and liberty” could be used under this bill as an excuse to deny people fair housing, job opportunities, and any kind of equal protection under the law. The framework of the bill is state-sanctioned discrimination.
b)         Expands the legal definition of personhood. In the current legislation, a “person” by definition becomes any and all entities, including “any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, estate, trust, foundation, or other legal entity. Personal morals could therefore apply to the way commerce is conducted, theoretically denying access or services to another group, under the grounds that offering them would be religiously reprehensible.
c)         Overrides any municipal non-discrimination legislation. The ordinances of local governments would be subject to the state’s legislation, thereby nullifying the will of the people of a community, including recent legislation passed in the City of Phoenix about a year ago.
Read the entire post here.

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