Advocates of a state Religious Freedom Restoration Act have announced they are making another strong effort to pass such legislation in the coming legislative session, taking their cue from the fact Amazon bypassed Georgia in general and Metro Atlanta in particular for its “HQ2” plans, which ended up being awarded to Northern Virginia and the New York City area. Tennessee snagged what was considered a consolation prize — an “operations hub” in the Nashville area.
State Sen. William Ligon, R-White Oak, was a main supporter of RFRA efforts in the past, and is set to be one again in 2019.
“After several years of enduring attacks of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and global business elites against religious liberty, I hope everyone sees through their charade,” Ligon said in a statement late Friday afternoon. “Last year, (Chamber CEO) Chris Clark stated that ‘the Chamber is working hard to quash any religious freedom bills that might come before the Georgia legislature in 2017,’ just as it had done the previous three years, and which it continued to do in 2018.
“The Georgia Chamber seeks to deceive Georgians that economic liberty and religious liberty are incompatible. However, the history of our nation proves otherwise. If this had not been the case, our nation would never have become the economic wonder of the world.”
Earlier, a group of organizations — the American Principles Project, Citizen Impact, Concerned Women for America, the Faith & Freedom Coalition, the Fellowship of International Churches, the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, Georgia Conservatives in Action and the Georgia Right to Life — issued a statement along similar grounds.
According to the statement, Amazon’s choices demonstrate “yet again that major corporations locate in areas that are best for their bottom line. They consider business climate, taxes, transportation, workforce and numerous other factors — but they don’t make multi-billion dollar decisions based on whether religious liberty is protected by a particular statute.
“We trust that Amazon’s announcement will finally put to rest the bogus argument that passing a RFRA will drive away business. We also urge the Georgia legislature to quickly enact legislation that tracks the time-tested language of the federal RFRA to protect Georgians’ fundamental right to free exercise of religion.”
News stories looking into Amazon’s decision have cast doubt as to whether it was a fair fight by the cities and states involved, regardless of any state’s regulatory climate. New York University marketing professor Scott Galloway pointed out both the Northern Virginia site and the New York site are within 30-minute drives of homes Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns in those areas.