RICHMOND, VA - Chris Thomas | WWBT
The President of the Virginia Christian Alliance is supporting a proposed "Conscience Bill" that would allow people not to participate in actions that violate their religious or moral beliefs. This all stems from the recent approval of gay marriage in Virginia.
"Every pastor should fear for his job," said Don Blake who is president of the Virginia Christian Alliance.
House Bill 1414 says, "A person shall not be required to perform, assist, consent to, or participate in any action or refrain from performing, assisting, consenting to, or participating in any action as a condition of obtaining or renewing a government-issued license, registration, or certificate where such condition would violate the religious or moral convictions of such person with respect to same-sex marriage or homosexual behavior."|
Blake feels it is imperative the bill is approved and signed into law.
"Every Christian pastor who believes in biblical marriage would have to fear for his job one day if this doesn't pass," said Blake.
James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia, disagrees.
"This is nothing but blatant discrimination," said Parrish who feels the conscience clause will create a slippery slope. "You can go down a long and winding road of who you decide you want to serve and not serve, and we don't think that's the Virginia that people want to live in."
Del. Bob Marshall is bringing the bill to the floor.
"The homosexual litigants could not get their way in Virginia through the legislature," said Del. Bob Marshall (R-Manassas). "So they went to the courts. If there is any discrimination, it is attempting to compel me, and people like me, to accept behavior that I can read in the scripture or in the traditions of my church as very damaging to your soul and to your health."
Equality Virginia is pledging to fight HB1414.
"Yes," said Parrish. "We strongly oppose this bill. While we all have our freedom to religion and the freedom to practice our religion that is not a license to discriminate."
Even still, Blake predicts the bill will pass the Republican controlled legislature.
"If the governor vetoes this bill," said Blake. "I would suspect everybody, in fact every pastor in this Commonwealth should come down on him with heat and beat him over the head to sign this bill."
Delegate Marshall says the bill is currently in the general laws committee. The session starts next Wednesday.
First Published on WWBT Channel 12 News and reprinted here with permission.
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