State and regional organizations representing major corporations in Missouri have announced their opposition to legislation which would protect the religious freedom of churches and businesses in our state.
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the St. Louis Regional Chamber, and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce have declared their opposition to Senate Joint Resolution 39, sponsored by Senator Bob Onder of Lake St. Louis.
The proposed constitutional amendment would prohibit stage agencies or local governments from imposing penalties on ministers, churches, or religious organizations for refusing to participate in same-sex union ceremonies, or for refusing to make their facilities or property available for such ceremonies. The bill would also ban civil lawsuits against religious entities that believe in traditional marriage accusing them of discriminatory conduct.
Senate Joint Resolution 39 would also proscribe any punitive government action against wedding vendors for declining to service same-sex union ceremonies because of their religious convictions. There have been numerous cases across the country where bakers, florists, and photographers have been the subject of “human rights” complaints resulting in harsh fines and penalties for choosing not to lend their creative talents to the perversion of marriage.
The actions by the state’s most prominent chamber of commerce groups is no surprise. These organizations represent the big business community in Missouri. The homosexual rights movement has been highly successful in enlisting major corporations as full-fledged partners in their public policy efforts. Monsanto and MasterCard have been Missouri corporations who have aggressively championed the homosexual rights agenda.
Dan Mehan, President of the Missouri Chamber, says the business titans he represents do not support “providing constitutional protections to employees who refuse to do their jobs.” What Mehan is actually saying is they oppose the freedom of small business owners to do their jobs without violating their conscience.
This also is no surprise. While Mehan’s group and the St. Louis and Kansas City Chambers claim to support the free enterprise system, their primary reason for existence is to lobby for special tax breaks and incentives for the large corporations they represent. In so doing, they seek to manipulate the marketplace to the detriment of the small business community.
The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission was not going to be outdone by the bullies in the boardrooms of big business. CEO Kathleen “Kitty” Ratcliffe went over the top in trying to link the religious liberty measure to the recent riots and violence in the city of Ferguson. She argued that the Ferguson unrest had tarnished the image of the state, and that SJR 39 would intensify the perception that the Show-Me State is not “warm” and “friendly.”
Ratcliff did not, however, link her failed efforts to keep the Rams football team in St. Louis to the Ferguson riots, nor did she try to somehow connect the dots between SJR 39 and Stan Kroenke’s decision to bail out of St. Louis. Most notably, Ratcliffe chose not to discuss how other states with religious liberty protections have suffered no loss in tourism activity.
The ultraliberal media, who function as full-time publicists for the “gay rights” movement, reported that the National Collegiate Athletic Association is “concerned” about Missouri’s religious liberty amendment. Media “analysts” speculated that St. Louis and Kansas City could lose out as future hosts of the NCAA Championship tournaments.
For those who follow these issues, this is all a very familiar script. In other states where religious liberty proposals have been considered, major corporations have threatened to move out of the state or cancel their business expansion plans. Boycotts have been proposed against government and business travel to such states.
Last year, there were threats that the National Football League would move the Super Bowl out of Glendale, Arizona. The NCAA made noise that they might abandon Indianapolis for future Final Four championship games.
Just last week, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal vetoed a weak religious liberty bill after there were threats that the NFL might disqualify Atlanta from serving as host for an upcoming Super Bowl. The National Basketball Association is warning that it may move its 2o17 All-Star Game out of Charlotte because of North Carolina’s recent passage of a bill prohibiting men from invading women’s restrooms.
It has become more than obvious that these are hollow threats trumpeted by agents for the “gay rights” movement. The 2017 Super Bowl will be held in Houston at NRG Stadium, the home of the Texans NFL team. Yet the state of Texas has enacted a “Pastor’s Protection Act” similar to the law being proposed in Missouri. Last night, the NCAA Division I Championship game was held at NRG Stadium in Houston. Yet there were no media conversations or narratives about boycotts or cancellations.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon continues to demonstrate how out of touch he is with families of faith in Missouri. Nixon stated in a press conference that “enshrining intolerance in our Constitution is bad for business.” What Senator Onder’s amendment would actually do is require tolerance of those who obey the Word of God, and choose to live their life according to Biblical principles.
Senate Joint Resolution 39 was adopted by the Missouri Senate last month following a record-breaking 39-hour filibuster by liberal senators who are allies of the ACLU and PROMO, the state’s leading homosexual rights organization. The anti-Christian bigotry of the opponents of SJR 39 was exemplified by one senator’s comparison of the bill’s supporters to members of the Ku Klux Klan. The senator circulated online a picture of white-robed Ku Klux Klan members underneath a sign that read “Jesus Saves.”
The bill now moves to the Missouri House, where it has been assigned to the House Emerging Issues Committee, chaired by Representative Elijah Haahr of Springfield. A hearing date has not yet been set for testimony for and against the measure. Representative Paul Curtman of Franklin County will handle the bill in the House. His position is simply expressed: “The Bill of Rights is more important than any business deal.”
In addition to its religious liberty implications, Senator Onder’s legislation also underscores a longstanding legal standard regarding the First Amendment right to the freedom of speech. Federal courts have long interpreted that right to also include the freedom not to speak. Numerous court cases have upheld the principle that a person cannot be compelled to communicate a message with which they disagree, all the moreso when the message conflicts with sincerely held religious beliefs.
Senate Joint Resolution 39 would also prohibit the government from revoking tax exemptions of religious organizations that believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. In addition, the amendment would forbid discrimination against religious organizations in the award and disbursement of government grants, contracts, and reimbursements.
Should SJR 39 receive final approval by the General Assembly, it would go directly to a statewide vote which would be held in either the August primary or November general election.