Disney Lines Up Against Georgia's Religious Freedom Legislation

Earlier this week, I shared how companies and organization from Salesforce to the NFL are lining up against the state of Georgia and a religious freedom bill on the desk of Governor Nathan Deal.

Opponents of the bill, known as House Bill 757 or the Free Exercise Protection Act, claim that the legislation, which the state legislature passed on March 16, promotes discrimination against the LGBT community, but as I pointed out in my original piece, those who make that claim clearly haven’t read it.

Disney has joined the chorus of those who are threatening to punish Georgia for protecting religious liberty. The Mouse has invested millions of dollars in Georgia, where the film industry has generated a cool $6 billion in revenue from summer 2014 to summer 2015.

Georgia has become a haven for movie and television production because of attractive tax incentives offered to studios that film there. Unlike California’s film tax credit program, Georgia’s offering is especially enticing because it allows studios and film producers to offset actors’ salaries, which can be a major contributor to the cost of productions.

The Los Angeles Times, inaccurately portraying HB 757 as an “anti-gay bill,” reported that Disney and its Marvel Studios are considering boycotting the Peach State if Governor Deal signs the bill into law.

“Disney and Marvel are inclusive companies, and although we have had great experiences filming in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law,” a spokesman for Burbank-based Disney said.

Apparently, inclusion does not apply to people of faith.

Disney has it all wrong, because the Free Exercise Protection Act is not a bill calling for discrimination. Erick Erickson sums up HB 757 in the most succinct and simple way:

What does Georgia’s law do?

  1. It says no preacher can be forced to perform a religious service in violation of his faith.
  2. It says no religious organization can be forced to hire people that disagree with the religious tenets of the organization.
  3. It says the government cannot force a business to stay open on a Saturday or Sunday.
  4. It specifically says the organizations cannot discriminate against protected classes of citizens.

The legislation also includes the federal RFRA language that Bill Clinton signed into law.

That’s it.

It does not apply to for profit businesses at all. It only applies to religious organizations.

I’ve read the entire bill, and it couldn’t be much clearer. HB 757 doesn’t concern itself with discriminating against gays or any other group; rather, it protects churches and other religious organizations from bowing to government force.

Naturally, the Left refuses to see the truth of the bill, and they continue to speak out against Georgia:

In a statement, the president of the LGBT-focused civil rights organization Human Rights Campaign praised Disney’s action and criticized proponents of the bill.

“It’s appalling that anti-LGBT activists in Georgia are trying to pass legislation creating an explicit right to discriminate against LGBT Americans,” said Chad Griffin, who called on Hollywood to stop making film and TV shows in Georgia at a gala the group held in L.A. last week. “We urge other studios, major corporations, and fair-minded Georgians to continue speaking out and urging Gov. Deal to veto this heinous piece of legislation sitting on his desk.”

It would be one thing if these folks spoke out against HB 757 on the merits of the legislation, but instead they choose to either ignore the actual text of the bill or they blatantly lie about what it says (and I’m inclined to believe the latter).

The Left is forcing Georgia’s governor to make a choice between the large numbers of people of faith in his state and a small but vocal number of activists. It will be interesting to see where Nathan Deal—who strong-armed the legislature into making compromises to the bill before he would even consider signing it—will side.