Christian Conservatives in Mississippi are showing their support for the state's new religious freedom law.
Mississippians gathered by the thousands on the steps of the Capitol yesterday for a prayer rally hosted by Evangelist Franklin Graham. As part of a 50 state tour, Graham urged Christians to get more involved in the political process. He says the country is suffering due to declining morals.
“I believe God honor’s leaders in high places who honor him,” Graham says. “We need today, men and women in high places, men and women in government. America is being stripped of its biblical heritage and its God-inspired foundations.
While Graham insisted he was not in Mississippi to push for or against specific legislation, he did talk about Mississippi's new "Religious Freedom" law. It will allow churches and some private businesses to deny services to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. He says it's important to make sure religious freedom's protected.
“That’s one thing, one thing to worship in a church, it’s another thing to live out our faith,” says Graham. “We need to be able to live out our faith in public. As Christians, God is very clear at what the rules are, and I want to follow those rules and his standards. I think that’s what the Governor and many of the legislators here in Mississippi want to do.”
Many in the crowd agree with Graham's assessment. Cathy Berry is from Crystal Springs says the law will help protect her grandchildren.
“Do you not see that someone who is deviant, who is acting like a confused gendered person, can use that to get to my grandchildren,” says Berry. “We’re at a place where you draw the line in the sand, and we cannot give any more ground or we’re going to lose every freedom we have. It’s not just going to be the religious people. It’s going to be everybody.”
Critics of the state's new law argue the measure is discriminatory and unconstitutional. But Mike Artigues from McComb says something needs to be done to protect religious freedom.
“If I was in a business like that and someone came up and asked me, a baker, and some clansman came up and said I want you to bake a cake for our clan rally and put “White Power” on it, I would like to think that my conscience would dictate that I wouldn’t have to do that and not worry about being sued,” says Artigues. “If not this bill, some bill needs to protect people’s freedom of conscience.”
Since Governor Phil Bryant signed the measure into law last week, a number of states and cities banned non-essential travel by public officials to Mississippi. Musician Bryan Adams canceled an appearance in Biloxi, and Ninety-five Mississippi authors signed a letter Monday calling for repeal.