That's a Wrap!May 13, 2016
The Missouri legislative regular session ends today. That means state legislators won't be able to pass harmful bills for months! Sadly, that's hardly a joke this year. The good news this session seemed just to come on the times when a bad bill died.
Fortunately, one bill I found particularly problematic suffered a defeat. Last month, I offered testimony to the House Emerging Issues Committee against SJR 39, a religious objection bill that proponents inaccurately claimed we needed for religious liberty. The hearing quickly appeared to pit Christian leaders and their attorneys on one side and business and LGBT leaders on the other. I tried to offer a different voice as a Baptist minister arguing the bill was bad for religious liberty.
As I took off to Cuba, 'Protect Thy Neighbor' (an initiative of Americans United for Separation of Church and State) published my House testimony. Baptist News Global previously ran an article about my testimony.
While I was in Cuba, the Committee voted down the bill! The key vote came from Representative Jim Hansen, a Baptist who joined two of his fellow Republicans and all three Democrats on the Committee in voting against the bill. Hansen teared up during remarks before voting.
"They call [this bill] religious freedom," Hansen said. "I feel that I'm free in this country to worship the way I want, and I don't need a law to tell me how to worship. I don't need a law passed to make it legal to be a Christian."
I found out about the vote two days after it occurred as I reentered the world of Internet access. After hearing about some persecution Baptists in Cuba have experienced, I returned with even less patience for the whining of U.S. Christians who claim they are persecuted. SJR 39 came from that inaccurate mindset and misused the important principle of religious liberty.
Baptist News Global ran an article about the vote and quoted some of my testimony. With the session ending today, this legislation will formally die for 2016. I suspect a form of it will reemerge next year. I will be ready to again urge true religious liberty for all.