Rep. Phyllis Thede (D-Bettendorf) spoke against the antisemitism bill on Thursday. She made a religious appeal for opposing the bill.
Thede said she believes hate crimes and harassment based on one’s religion is wrong. She said that includes crimes motivated by antisemitism, the religious beliefs of evangelical Christians, Islamophobia, atheists or people with other religious beliefs.
Thede said the current Iowa Code agrees with her as protection from discrimination based on religion is already in the Code.
“We are charged as Christians to accept all faiths, to understand all faiths, all religion,” she said. “We don’t get to choose who we like, who we don’t like, because that’s not what we’re about. We’re taught to love, we’re taught to respect and we’re taught to understand our differences.”
Thede expressed concern over the word perception being in the bill.
“I don’t believe my perception into law would benefit Rep. Mascher or Rep. Hunter,” Thede said. “My perception is different. Doesn’t make it right or wrong, it’s just different.”
The Code, Thede said, covers religion, which talks about everyone.
“I’ve struggled with this all day, and I’ll be perfectly honest with you, I have prayed all day about this.”
Thede said she doesn’t understand why the bill is necessary.
“If we want to really do this, I want you to understand there are consequences that follow this,” she said. “And that’s what worries me the most. What are we creating? I don’t know.”
Thede said she believes in Almighty God, who does things the right way. And, she said, she has to follow what He does.
“I can’t say what He would do on this bill today, because that’s not for me to say,” she said. “It’s important that I follow my Christian faith, and that is I have to represent everyone who has a religious background — someone who’s an atheist, someone who is Islamic, Muslim — because my faith tells me that I’m to love everyone.
“I don’t get to put someone on a hierarchy, I don’t get to do that. I’m not special that way, but I follow what He tells me. So, today, please follow your faith. Follow what God tells you to do.”