Mississippi legislators on Tuesday quickly passed a controversial but amended religious freedom bill that could allow state residents to sue over laws they say place a substantial burden on their religious practices.

Despite good intentions to mitigate language in this bill, perception is reality and passage sets Mississippi back 50 years, perpetuating a kind of backwater status and reviving images of the Jim Crow era.

Codifying religious freedoms already granted by our Creator under the First Amendment in the name of religion goes against Founding principles and is indefensible, especially among people who call themselves conservatives.

Nobody should be forced to participate in a practice they object to, but the second greatest commandment of Christ - and there were only two commandments - is to love thy neighbor as thyself - and He didn't say "if."

What the Republican Party needs is a return to principled conservatism and less bigotry that's only amplified through misguided legislation such as this.

As followers of Christ, we are often ashamed of what some of the well-intentioned do in His name. Reasonably-minded individuals often are drowned out by the zealots.

While religious liberty is disturbingly under attack in our country, it doesn't make interjecting religion into public policy right.

It's an insidious attack on the very principle of religious freedom to insist that any religion dictate public policy.

State-based religion is precisely what our forefathers fled under the tyranny of King James and the Church of England of which he had declared himself head.

The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.

The Constitution was written to preserve religion, not dictate. Could the Founders have foreseen a day when Christians were a growing minority in America?

This bill likely will end up being fought in court one way or another.

Meanwhile, why is the Mississippi Legislature so apt to fix problems that don't really exist?

Whether the words "In God We Trust" are emblazoned on the state flag or not, - as this bill prescribes - the Lord remains on His throne reigning omnipotent in every place.

How about we work on some of the real tough issues in our state such as reducing poverty, improving education and jobs creation?