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From a Shield to a Weapon: How Georgia’s RFRA Bill Uses Religion as Justification for Harm Rev Cameron Trimble ~ Atlanta, GA

RevCameronTrimbleReverend Cameron Trimble is a Minister, as well as the Executive Director and CEO for the Center for Progressive Renewal—an organization that works with churches from all across North America in order to start and renew congregations.

Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Rev. Trimble lives with her partner Ann of 11 years. On describing her relationship, Trimble says, “It’s just as wonderful and just as boring as any other relationship. We’re a wonderfully comfortable old married couple who challenge and inspire each other every day.”

But while Rev. Trimble has very warm things to say about her home state of Georgia, she has become increasingly concerned with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)—a new piece of proposed legislation that if passed into law, would allow individuals and businesses to use their religious beliefs as a justification to discriminate.

“If you look at the original history of the bill, it was written to protect Native Americans in a particular context. And what we’re now seeing is a radical expansion and repurposing of the law that lays the groundwork for the majority of people to yield a weapon against the minorities. It changes a law that was intended to be a shield and turns it into a law that can be used as a weapon.”

Rev. Trimble is especially concerned that the so-called RFRA legislation was created to solve a problem that doesn’t actually exist. Religious freedom is one of our most fundamental rights as Americans—and it’s not under attack.

“In the law itself it lists no specific example where the religious right that they are actually trying to protect has actually been in danger. No specific examples where it’s actually happened. So it’s a law that’s being put into place around a mythology about something possible rather than based on any evidence that it’s needed.”

That’s why, as a person of faith, Rev. Trimble sees it as her duty to help defeat this dangerous attack on freedom and fairness in Georgia.

“This law has been known as ‘turn the gays away’ law. Somehow I can’t see Jesus supporting that, and it isn’t in alignment with the faith that most Americans hold. The story that I know to be true of God and the person of Jesus is a person and a God that is grounded in radical inclusion and generous hospitality.”

Thankfully, Trimble notes that there has been great movement towards growing acceptance in Georgia and nationwide, and hopes that one day we will live in a state and a country where no one should have to live in fear for being who they are. Defeating the so-called RFRA bill this year is the clear first step.

“I think we are moving past LGBT equality being an issue to it now being about people, and increasingly as more people come out, more people are coming to understand that we’re just like everyone else. It’s moved from being an issue to being about real people and real lives who have real feelings and giving testimony to the power of love in all its forms.”

But legislation like the proposed RFRA bill, will take us back, by allowing individuals and businesses the right to discriminate in the name of religious freedom.

“Religious freedom is one of our nation’s core values but this legislation actually endangers and hurts and potentially causes harm to millions of people across the country, and religious freedom does not give us the right to cause harm to a group of people.”

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