Theocratic Wave Hits Florida Shores



September 28, 2015

Tamara Ayon


My fellow Floridians your freedom  is under attack this coming legislative session. A bill will be introduced to the Florida House of Representatives next year that would allow organizations to discriminate against certain groups of people under the guise of a “sincerely held religious belief.“ House Bill 43, otherwise known as the Pastor Protection Act, is being sponsored by State Representative Plakon, a conservative Republican in Central Florida and is already making waves in the LGBT community. House Bill 43, “Provides that churches or religious organizations, related organizations, or certain organizations may not be required to solemnize any marriage or provide services, accommodations, facility, goods or privileges for related purposes if such action would violate sincerely held religious belief; prohibits certain legal actions, penalties, or governmental sanctions against such individuals or entities”.  


         If this bill passes it will be the latest in a series of attempts to undermine democracy and equal treatment under the law in the United States. Our founding fathers had a vision for this country that included religious freedom for all, ensuring its citizens had the right to practice their religious beliefs freely, not the freedom of discriminating against others because they don’t share the same faith. One of the  underlying principles of our constitution is the separation of church and state, specifically “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the exercise thereof”  was  written to ensure  no government entanglement of religion would take place, and no chosen faith our nation should be governed by.” The freedom of religion is incredibly important - that's why it is protected by the very first amendment of the Constitution. By further enumerating the protections that the First Amendment provides, this bill could do more to threaten the intentionally-broad application of religious freedom than to bolster it.


This is a slippery slope, the American Muslim community is no stranger to discrimination. Since the tragic events of September 11th, Islamophobia has run rampant through our halls of power, across our media channels and down our neighborhood streets. Presidential candidates doubt the merits of a Muslim president theoretically taking office, representatives in Congress and state legislators have introduced bills to ban the practice of shariah law in the false belief that the religious rights of Muslims will somehow supercede the Constitution, which is the "law of the land." This bill serves as a guise of providing “additional protection” for religious rights, when it actually attempts to legislate religious services through vague language. Legislation does not need to be, or should it be, in our personal lives and in our religious rights as provided by the Constitution.


In the pursuit of freedom and democracy, we are ALL Americans and this is another attempt to create vague legislation for rights that are already protected under the Constitution.


    Emerge USA is instituting a CALL TO ACTION to protect citizens across the state of Florida from Rep. Plakon’s discriminatory bill. Call on your State Representative to “Protect the integrity of our Democracy; and ask them to vote NO on HB43, the Pastor Protection Act.” Let them know that “we don’t need more legislation on the religious rights we already have under the Constitution.” If you agree that this bill is unnecessary, antagonistic, and fear-mongering at its finest, we need legislators to hear from you. Please sign this pledge in opposition of the so-called Pastor Protection Act and hold our government to a higher standard.

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