Tuesday, February 25, 2014

UCC Leaders/Members Come Out Against Arizona's "Right To Discriminate" Bill

I wrote this weekend about the "right to discriminate" bill (Senate Bill 1062) that sailed through the Arizona House and Senate last week. This bill would allow anyone to refuse goods or services to pretty much anyone as long as they have a sincere religious belief to justify that discrimination. It's basically a way for folks to get around statewide anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT people -- but the Arizona bill is written broadly enough that it can be applied to anyone for any reason. You can read more about it here.

The bill now awaits Gov. Jan Brewer's signature to transform it into a law, but it's unclear if she will actually sign this bill into law or if she will veto it. She's getting a lot of pressure from others throughout the country -- particularly Arizona businesses.

Meanwhile, members of the United Church of Christ gathered along with other protesters last night outside of the Arizona Statehouse. They wanted to join the chorus against Senate Bill 1062 and remind Arizona's legislators that discrimination isn't a religious value:
"Our group and our message is that religious freedom is not freedom to discriminate," said UCC pastor the Rev. Jeff Dirrim. "Everybody has the right to believe what they want to believe, but that should not infringe on the rights of others."

Dirrim, pastor at Rebel and Divine UCC in Phoenix, joined more than 25 people from his congregation and about 75 from the Southwest Conference of the UCC outside the Arizona Statehouse. His issue with SB 1062 is that it's "marketed as religious freedom."

"It's wrong for the state, and wrong for the people," said Dirrim. "But the general public has risen, and I don't see a way Gov. Brewer cannot veto it."

The Rev. John C. Dorhauer called it "one of the worst bills passed in state history" and believes it would permit "state-sanctioned discrimination." Dorhauer is conference minister for the Southwest Conference of the UCC, which ministers to UCC congregations in Arizona...

When a local journalist asked Dorhauer if he planned to publicly shame lawmakers, he replied, "I am not sure if shame would have any impact on them. If they had any shame at all they wouldn't have passed this legislation."
The UCC isn't perfect, but there are times that I dearly love being a member of this denomination!

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