RELEASE from MSGOP:

Sen. Phillip Gandy: Religious Freedom is a Cherished Freedom That Must be Preserved

A year has passed since I introduced Senate Bill 2681, “The Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2014”. This bill drew the attention of many groups and individuals both inside and outside the state who said that the bill, if it became law, would lead to massive discrimination against certain individuals. Many people played off the fear that we might return to the days of discrimination that we once experienced in Mississippi.

I lived during some of those times and I saw many of the terrible things that were done. Some were even done in the name of religion. Looking back we can see just how horrible these things were. The scars that came from the wounds that many experienced during those days will never go away but if we can learn to walk together, work together and together strive to make Mississippi a better place for our children and grandchildren, these scars will not be as noticeable. It was never my intention to do anything that would discriminate against any individual or group and those who complained the loudest that it was discriminatory in nature could not point to the bill and find one line in the bill that discriminated against anyone. A year has passed and many things have happened but one thing has not happened -discrimination!

No one would deny that there is cause for concern in the Christian community that little by little the rights of people of faith are being challenged. Whether it is a mayor subpoenaing the sermons of pastors to see if they said anything “offensive” or a fire chief losing his job over his Christian beliefs, Christian faith is under fire. Our Constitution guarantees us the freedom of religion, the freedom of speech, the freedom of assembly and the freedom of the press. If one part of the First Amendment is weakened is any part safe?

A person from a national news organization asked me this question, “No one wants to deny you the right to teach and live your faith in your houses of worship. Why do you feel you have the right to bring your faith into the public arena?” My faith identifies who I am. It would be like saying, “You can be a husband or a father at home but do not bring that into the public arena.” How is that possible?

A Christian’s faith guides his/her life and actions. It dictates how we respond to life. To say that a Christian is free to practice their faith in their houses of worship but not in the public arena is to ask the impossible. The Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act was modeled after the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The difference being that, at Governor’s Bryant’s request, the words, “In God We Trust” were added to the State Seal through an amendment.

Religious freedom is a cherished freedom that must be preserved. It is one of the factors that has made America great. I appreciate the strong support and diligent hard work of many groups and individuals. I especially appreciate the fact that Governor Phil Bryant, Lt. Governor Tate Reeves and Speaker of the House Philip Gunn never wavered in their support of religious freedom. I am really thankful for their courage.

Senator Phillip Gandy (R-Waynesboro) represents the 43rd District in the Mississippi State Senate.