Pastors don’t need protection, but Floridians do

Sometimes the Florida Legislature is an exercise in futility. Representative Scott Plakon’s “Pastor Protection Act” passed the House and Senate last week and is headed to Governor Rick Scott’s desk for a final signature.

Representative Scott Plakon/Photo courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel

Representative Scott Plakon/Photo courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel

Save that for inclusion and soft bigotry.

Anyway, Plakon is afraid that the religious freedom enjoyed by pastors who do not want to harm the sacred nature of the church is in danger. Because the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is ok in this country, Plakon fought back.

To add an extra layer of protection for pastors, Plakon filed his bill even though clergy have guard under the First Amendment. No matter for Plakon and those who supported the measure, though. Because 17 other states have passed similar laws, Florida needed the same shelter.

But this bill is political and another way to show hard intolerance. Plakon knows that pastors already have protection under the law and used this bill to prove how far right the legislature may be. Social conservatives were able to make another stand against gay marriage through this bill.

Yet the merit of this type of legislation filters through a narrow and dogmatic understanding of who may be deserving of protection.

Back in 2012, Plakon voted to “prohibit local governments from establishing unpaid wage collection ordinances.”

In the same year, he voted to drug test state employees, excluding lawmakers of course, choosing to protect the state’s interest, I guess.

What’s most egregious is Plakon’s inability to empathize with anyone who doesn’t share his worldview.

So if pastors have protection under the law and do not need further shielding, who does?

Women and the poor; two groups Plakon and those of his political ilk often shun.

In the name of religion and God, Florida Republicans have attempted to outlaw abortion. It has, according to The New York Times, some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.

It’s so bad in Florida that it is considered to be “hostile” ground for abortions, and some women are turning to “self-induced abortions.”

While abortion may not be viewed as a choice for some, women who are selecting to perform abortions themselves wouldn’t have to if abortion laws in the state were more flexible.

We choose to define how we consider the worthiness of life. Florida has the death penalty (a new law reshapes it) and carries it out in the name of justice.

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Abortions aren’t illegal but have the tinge of being illicit. In the face of putting a woman’s health in danger, Florida Republicans have put forth another abortion bill that targets Planned Parenthood and doctors who perform abortions.

The red herring here is that while Republicans and those who support restrictions of this nature often cite the idea of protecting women and children.

Except for when unemployment or state benefits are requested.

According to a report issued by The National Employment Law Project, Florida’s unemployed are treated the worst in the nation. Qualifying for just 12 weeks of unemployment benefits, just 11 percent of those eligible to receive benefits got them in 2015.

How’s that for protection?

Florida has passed some of the most confining rules in the country for those seeking unemployment benefits. The report goes on to suggest that some states, Florida included, do not “provide reasonable protections to jobless workers…”

Florida lawmakers had the chance to expand healthcare; a move that would have helped to ease more children out of poverty and likely increase life expectancy. But Florida Republicans have turned that idea down as well.

HIV rates are on the rise in the south with Florida leading the way. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were over 5,000 new cases of HIV diagnoses in the state in 2013.

That number should have been lower, but Florida Republicans failed to properly add protection because they chose not to expand healthcare to all who may need it.

Plakon, like other social conservatives, and Republicans, may rest easy knowing that the gay agenda won’t ravage Florida families with the “Pastor Protection Act” now in place. Its just too bad he and those who think like him don’t feel the same way about the state’s most vulnerable.

You know, the ones who really need protecting.

-JH

photo credit: Tallahassee Florida ~ Florida State Capitol aka The Old Capitol ~ Historic via photopin (license)

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