Following an emotional debate, the Idaho House on Wednesday defeated a resolution “to recognize the fundamental rights of Christians to practice their faith without persecution or fear of death, rape, imprisonment, forced marriage, or physical violence.”
Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, told the House that her bill “declares its support for the fundamental rights and religious freedom of all people. And it includes Christians globally and in the United States. And it calls for an end to Christian persecution. … The primary basis of this resolution is to bring awareness to Christian persecution that is happening all over the world.”
Lawmakers who spoke against House resolution 6 noted that it does not reflect that all religions should be protected.
“This resolution is so explicitly targeted to Christians. It contains the word Christian 10 times in the resolution while nowhere acknowledging the need to protect others from discrimination,” said Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise.
“The reason I am an American citizen is because of discrimination and brutal violence against Jews. My father’s family came here in the late 1800s to escape brutal pogroms against the Jewish people where they faced rape, arson, murder routinely. My mother’s family came here in the middle of World War II to escape the Nazis.”
Rep. Steve Berch, D-Boise, who also is Jewish, said, “This is not a religious persecution bill, this is a Christian persecution bill.”
“Anti-Semitism is rising around the globe. By omission this bill says Jewish lives are not as important as Christian lives,” Berch said. “The 50 Muslims, non-Christians, who were massacred in New Zealand, by omission this bill says those non-Christian lives aren’t as important as Christian lives. Every one of us has constituents in our districts of multiple faiths, and by omission this bill says the lives of those constituents are not as important as Christian constituents.”
In addition to the House’s 14 Democrats, 25 Republicans also voted no, leading to the bill’s defeat in a 39-31 vote.
Choking back tears, Rep. Britt Raybould, R-Rexburg, told the House: “I stand today as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members of my faith have been persecuted for not being Christian enough. And that we would stand today and debate a resolution that calls out one particular faith is disheartening to me when we know that worldwide there is religious persecution everywhere regardless of your affiliation.”
“Let us be better than that,” Raybould continued. “Let us say we are against all religious persecution. Not just Christian persecution, but all religious persecution. That is my challenge to this body today. I ask for us to be better.”
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SOURCE: Idaho Statesman, Cynthia Sewell