Letters to the Editor

Pastor Protection Act really masks bias

As an ordained pastor, I denounce Florida’s House Bill 43/Senate Bill 110, the Pastor Protection Act. This bill falsely perpetuates the narrative that religious freedom and the protection of churches is in conflict with basic human rights of the LGBT community. It is not.

The right to openly, and legally, discriminate is what drives “religious protection” legislation — not religious freedom.The U.S. Constitution guarantees that you and I can practice our faith as we choose. I believe, if this unnecessary act becomes law, human equality, personal dignity and civil rights will be denied to countless people through intended, and unintended, faith-based discrimination.

It seems a certainty that the Florida Legislature will pass the Pastor Protection Act. When this occurs, all Floridians will lose. Most regrettably, religious-protection laws give people the misguided confidence that it is acceptable to discriminate. It is not.

Passage of the Pastor Protection Act may appease religious hatemongers who hurl insults, wild accusations and hate speech toward the LGBT community. It will create a dangerous precedent for a frightening scenario. And bolder laws will be written unless the public condemns this type of legislation.

First, the LGBT community will suffer; this is certain. I fear in time people of other faiths and cultures may become entangled. Hatred, fueled by religious ideology, will not be contained to a single community of people.

Eventually, bills such as these will be used to allow legally protected discrimination against all people — even Christians.

Religious intolerance, like racism and classism, boils beneath the surface of American society.

We, as a society, have been silent too long. Join me in speaking out against discrimination, intolerance, and bigotry. Condemn the Pastor Protection Act and denounce the hatred which fuels such legislation.

Rev. Harold E. Thompson, Miami