Religious Exemption Bill Could Bump Ga. Off Super Bowl List

Mar 18, 2016

The Georgia General Assembly recently passed a bill, called the "Free Exercise Protection Act," that would allow faith-based organizations to deny services to people based on their religious beliefs.

But making the bill into law could create some backlash from the NFL, which Atlanta is hoping to host for the 2019 or 2020 Super Bowl. 

"NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard," Brian McCarthy, NFL spokesman, said in a statement. "Whether the laws and regulations of a state and local community are consistent with these policies would be one of many factors NFL owners may use to evaluate potential Super Bowl host sites." 

Atlanta is competing with three other cities to host the Super Bowl in 2019 and 2020, and to that end, the Georgia Legislature passed a bill this week that would give a state sales tax break on ticket sales on Super Bowl tickets. The NFL has said the tax exemption is a requirement for a host city.

The "Free Exercise Protection Act" includes language that mirrors the 1993 federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act at the center of the debate over religious freedom and LGBT rights which occurred in the Georgia Legislature last year.

The bill's fate will now be decided by Gov. Nathan Deal, who must sign the bill into law. 

WABE's Lindsay Gladu contributed to this story.