Conservative Christians blast Gov. Deal over religious freedom b - CBS46 News

Conservative Christians blast Gov. Deal over religious freedom bill veto

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Photo source: State of Georgia, MGN Online Photo source: State of Georgia, MGN Online

Several groups that represent conservative Christians publicly scolded Gov. Nathan Deal Tuesday over his decision to veto the religious freedom bill.

“I was personally angered. I was outraged," said Pastor Garland Hunt of The Father's House and executive vice president of the Fellowship of International Churches. “He turned his back on the faith based community in the state of Georgia.”

“I’m telling you, Christians need to wake up and take a stand for what we stand for, which is Jehovah our God,” said Pastor Kevin Williams of the First Baptist Church of Villa Rica.

The pastors represented several groups that gathered before news reporters at the state capitol 24 hours after Deal announced his intent to veto the bill.

“We must return to the foundation that God founded this nation on,” said Pastor Chika Onuzo of Resurrection House for All Nations, a church in Union City.

House Bill 757 would have offered an extra layer of protection for pastors, preventing them from being forced to oversee wedding ceremonies of same-sex couples. The bill also would have provided state protections for religious organizations that decline to affiliate themselves with people or events that violate their religious beliefs.

Throughout the legislative session, opponents sounded the alarm in the news media and on social media, arguing that the bill would send a signal that alternative lifestyles are not welcome in Georgia. The strategy worked. Corporate giants Coca-Cola, Disney and Apple came out against the bill. The NFL warned it would hurt Atlanta's chances of hosting a Superbowl.

On Monday, Deal announced he will veto the bill. He said he based his decision on law and on his conscience, not on corporate pressure.

"I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith based community in Georgia," Deal said. "I have examined the protections that this bill proposes to provide to the faith based community, and I can find no examples of any of those circumstances having occurred in our state."

“Governor Deal is out of touch with the people of this state,” said Tanya Ditty of Concerned Women for America of Georgia.

Other groups represented at the news conference included American Principles Project, Citizen Impact, Faith and Freedom Coalition, Georgia Baptist Mission Board, Georgia Conservatives in Action, Georgia Right to Life and Ten Commandments Georgia.

The groups urged the governor to change his mind and sign the bill. They indicated that if the governor vetoes the bill, they will turn their attention toward state lawmakers, urging them to override the veto in a special session.

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