A social media post by a Georgia Baptist Convention Lobbyist is causing a big stir among lawmakers.
Mike Griffin used a reference to Hitler and Nazi Germany in a post about the stalled “religious freedom” bill.
House Speaker David Ralston and other Republican leaders say Griffin’s words were clearly aimed at them, where the so-called First Amendment Defense Act has stalled. In a news conference Thursday Ralston said the words were disgusting and a step back for those fighting for religious freedom bills.
“To compare this legislative body to Hitler and to his practices in Nazi Germany, I just find to be wrong,” Ralston said. “I was sickened. I found it to be despicable, deplorable.”
Griffin says while referencing Hitler on the Christian Index Website, he was urging church goers to speak out on the issue. He says he was not referring to legislators.
“It's historically accurate that Hitler did meet with pastors and did try to get the pastors to see his side,” Griffin said. “I think it may help us even more because it creates more attention to the importance that people are concerned about their religious liberty rights being infringed upon by government in general.”
He defended his post saying his reference to Hitler involved historical context, but he did remove those references.
“It's getting in the last few days of the session, folks get a little sensitive to things being said,” Griffin said. “We did go back and take the Hitler phrase out because we definitely didn't want to confuse the issue in any way because we want to stay on the historical context of what we were talking about.”
Ralston says if he stands by his comment, he would have left it up.
“That comment has tainted the process. It's a move back, not a move forward,” Ralston said.
The First Amendment Defense Act allows faith-based organizations to refuse services to gay couples and not risk penalties from state government.
Ralston says he's disappointed in the language of the bill, but all options are on the table.
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