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(RNS) — State Sen. Charles Perry recently stood on the floor of the Texas Senate in Austin defending a bill that would let state license holders assert their religious beliefs when providing — or denying — certain services.
He told lawmakers the bill would not undermine state or federal anti-discrimination laws but would simply give attorneys, nurses, counselors and others a chance to live out their faith every day.
Voice - Faith - Discrimination - Policies - Laws
“What it does is give a voice to those of faith that currently is fading, is being silenced through state-sponsored discrimination policies and laws that we make,” Perry said from the Senate floor last week. “It’s an attack on the very fiber of where we used to be as a country, where we had a moral absolute standard that we seem to have tossed to the wind.”
On April 3, the religious refusals bill — officially Senate Bill 17 — passed in the Senate after lengthy emotional debate. It now faces consideration by the Texas House of Representatives.
Faith - Business - Community - Leaders - Measure
Some faith and business community leaders say the measure — along with more than a dozen others proposed by state lawmakers this year — would simply allow someone to use faith as a shield to deny services such as counseling, plumbing and even towing a car.
To them, it is a license to discriminate.
Attempts - Leadership - Austin - Faith - Excuse
“I think this is one of many attempts by leadership in Austin to use faith as an excuse to discriminate against people,” said Rabbi Nancy Kasten of Dallas. “You undermine faith and trust in public institutions when you allow subjective opinion to determine whether or not the service that is licensed by the state will be offered.”
Because the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation oversees 150 types of jobs, said state Sen. José Menéndez, a Democrat from San Antonio, the bill, if it becomes law,...
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