A week ago, I woke up to find the governor of the state of Mississippi showing once again, in so many ways, that he doesn’t value all of his constituents. Last week, the governor was a welcome guest of the American Family Association (AFA), a Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) designated extremist hate group that denounces those that do not share their religious beliefs, especially the LGBTQ community. Just by way of his appearance on this radio program, he tells us which Mississippians he values and serves.
Once on air with Tim Wildmon, President of the AFA, the governor let us all know how pleased he is that the redesign of the standard issue Mississippi state license plates will now make all Mississippians' vehicles rolling billboards for a particular religion. In the poorest state in the nation, people will be required to pay a higher price to avoid the standard issue plates supporting a religion. Religious freedom for Christians in Mississippi, but no one else; this is the goal of the governor apparently. Mississippians must display a motto they do not share by putting it on their vehicles , or pay more to avoid it.
And for good measure, in speaking to the hosts of the show, the governor says he thinks that secular Mississippians are “angry at a god they don’t believe in." Governor, if there is anger, it is toward the state government and yourself, not at any god. For example, since 2016, Mississippians have had to live by the Christian religious “values” that you signed into state law with HB 1523 (Religious Liberty Accommodations Act), enshrining Christian tenets for all of us to follow or risk discrimination, regardless of our own personal beliefs.
You and many others in state government believe we ALL should have to live by religious beliefs we did not select for ourselves, or run the risk of being discriminated against. The Christian religion has been elevated by the state, with no regard to others' beliefs, faiths, or lack thereof – as evidenced by unconstitutional legislation such as HB 1523 and HB 1510 (Gestational Age Act), based in Christian religious beliefs, not secular constitutional law. And then, the poorest state in the nation will use our tax dollars to DEFEND IN COURT unconstitutional laws based onthe state’s preferred religious belief.
Pardon us if we seem angry, because we are made to feel as second class citizens in our state because we do not share the religious beliefs of the majority, but are made to defer to them, live by them, and pay to defend them. And we suffer the consequences. Women are lied to about their medical care because of state interference based on religious belief. LGBTQ Mississippians have to worry about being discriminated against in the name of “religious freedom.” Pardon us if we aren’t so happy while OUR rights are violated on a daily basis - not by your “God”, but by state legislation.
So yes, Governor Bryant, you may be correct. Mississippians are angry, and they have every right to be. But not at any god. Mississippians are angry because of your lack of respect and consideration for ALL Mississippians – women, LGBTQ, Muslim, Hindu, humanist, atheist. ALL Mississippians deserve to live in Mississippi without their state government making them feel unwelcome.
Do you feel welcome in the hospitality state? Let us know in the comment section.