Georgia’s Election for Governor and the Battle Over “Religious Freedom”

The race for Governor of Georgia, pitting current Georgia Secretary of State, Republican Brian Kemp, against Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams, has become one of the nation’s most widely covered races, with media focusing on several interconnected issues:

In the midst of all these controversies, an issue that has somewhat been lost in the shuffle, but which reflects a larger debate going on throughout the country, concerns the candidates’ views on Georgia’s version of a Religious Freedom Law.  Like many states, the Georgia legislature in 2016 passed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but then Governor Nathan Deal vetoed the legislation. Kemp has pledged to approve a version of the law if he is elected, while Abrams is thoroughly opposed to it.  In Georgia and other states, religious freedom laws have become part of a larger struggle between conservative and progressive forces over religious liberty and LGBTQ rights, and a fundamental clash over the nation’s culture and values.

The various Religious Freedom Restoration Acts enacted throughout the United States are modeled after a federal law passed in 1993 that was meant to provide strong protections for religious freedom – think of them as boosts to the First Amendment.  Since the US Supreme Court ruled that the federal RFRA could not be applied to the states, 21 state-level RFRAs have been enacted, (including in Indiana, where then-Governor Mike Pence championed such a law).

Although the initial case that led to the federal RFRA was focused on protecting minority religious practices (such as Native Americans’ right to use the hallucinogenic drug peyote for religious ceremonies), more recent RFRAs have been in practice aimed at shielding conservative Christians from laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or sexual identity; about twenty states have laws to protect against gender or sexual orientation-based discrimination.  Religious freedom laws, such as the one being debated in Georgia, are largely aimed at allowing those with religious objections (generally Christians, but not necessarily) to opt out of things such as providing certain services to LGBTQ individuals, as well as fulfilling legal requirements related to things such as abortion or birth control.

The passage of Religious Freedom Restoration Acts is part of a larger GOP strategy to appeal to religious freedom – a cornerstone of American democracy – against progressive attempts to expand protections and rights for women and minorities in ways that seem threatening to many conservatives.  As I have mentioned before, this strategy is multi-pronged, including not only RFRA laws and various court cases, but also rhetoric ranging from blaming mass shootings and racist hate crimes on “anti-religiosity” to decrying secularization and a “War on Christmas.”  Today’s election in Georgia, in addition to the other potentially historic implications for that state and for the country, is also one battle among many in what has been framed as a conflict between competing rights and liberties and the social direction of the country.

135 thoughts on “Georgia’s Election for Governor and the Battle Over “Religious Freedom””

  1. Great article breaking down what is at stake in this election and drawing our attention to a very important policy issue that has indeed been lost in the shuffle. Praying for a run-off.

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  20. There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into consideration. That is a great point to bring up. I offer the thoughts above as general inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up where the most important thing will be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged around things like that, but I am sure that your job is clearly identified as a fair game. Both boys and girls feel the impact of just a moment?s pleasure, for the rest of their lives.
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  25. There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into consideration. That is a great point to bring up. I offer the thoughts above as general inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up where the most important thing will be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged around things like that, but I am sure that your job is clearly identified as a fair game. Both boys and girls feel the impact of just a moment?s pleasure, for the rest of their lives.
    atomy

  26. The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought youd have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you werent too busy looking for attention.
    艾多美

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  30. This is the right blog for anyone who wants to find out about this topic. You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually would want?HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just great!
    atomy

  31. The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought youd have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you werent too busy looking for attention.
    atomy

  32. This is the right blog for anyone who wants to find out about this topic. You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually would want?HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just great!
    atomy

  33. When I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Thanks!
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  34. There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into consideration. That is a great point to bring up. I offer the thoughts above as general inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up where the most important thing will be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged around things like that, but I am sure that your job is clearly identified as a fair game. Both boys and girls feel the impact of just a moment?s pleasure, for the rest of their lives.
    艾多美

  35. Nice post. I learn something more challenging on different blogs everyday. It will always be stimulating to read content from other writers and practice a little something from their store. I?d prefer to use some with the content on my blog whether you don?t mind. Natually I?ll give you a link on your web blog. Thanks for sharing.
    艾多美

  36. The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought youd have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you werent too busy looking for attention.
    艾多美

  37. An impressive share, I just given this onto a colleague who was doing a little analysis on this. And he in fact bought me breakfast because I found it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the treat! But yeah Thnkx for spending the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love reading more on this topic. If possible, as you become expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more details? It is highly helpful for me. Big thumb up for this blog post!
    艾多美

  38. An impressive share, I just given this onto a colleague who was doing a little analysis on this. And he in fact bought me breakfast because I found it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the treat! But yeah Thnkx for spending the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love reading more on this topic. If possible, as you become expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more details? It is highly helpful for me. Big thumb up for this blog post!
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  39. I?m impressed, I must say. Really rarely do I encounter a blog that?s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. Your idea is outstanding; the issue is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I stumbled across this in my search for something relating to this.
    艾多美

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