Thursday, March 26, 2015

Why Christians Should Oppose these "Religious Freedom" Bills

This person is also standing up for "values"
I'm a Christian, and I am vehemently opposed to this "Religious Freedom" bill in Indiana signed into law today. I'm also opposed to a similar bill in Georgia. These bills and laws aren't about religious freedom, they are a way to justify discrimination and treating people like second class citizens. Worst of all, they are using Christianity as a shield for actions that are the very antithesis of what Jesus taught. It's utterly vile, and if you believe in the Devil, I can assure you that Satan is in full support of it.

Christians need to oppose this law and others like it. These laws make our faith out to be the religion of gay-bashing. Apparently, according to these types of bills, hating gays is so integral to our faith that we need legal protections to continue our unabashed campaign of abuse. Is that really what we want people to think of Christianity, that its primary focus is making sure we can  treat gays as second class citizens? Is that how we want people to think of us?

Furthermore, these laws make our faith seem to be so very weak, so delicate, that the moment we don't treat gays like they are beneath us we'll abandon it completely. It makes Christians look like emotionally immature children in adult bodies, throwing a screaming fit because we might have to deal with a gay person or gay couple like we do every other person. It's hardly being a "good witness" as I used to hear in church growing up.

Let's not forget, Jesus once healed a Centurion's servant, and the Romans not only held very different religious beliefs, they were an occupying force. And if the Son of God didn't compromise Himself performing a miracle for one of them, what does that say about today's Christians and how they should treat gay people?

This unapologetic bigotry in the guise of religion is one of the reasons that young people are abandoning churches. Young people, and young Christians, don't think that oppressing gays is vital to their faith. They do not believe that following the Golden Rule when it comes to gay people is a compromise of their values.

After all, what is the core of Christian faith? Jesus died for our sins, we are forgiven, so go out and love everyone. Part of loving everyone is fighting for justice and equality, even for people who don't share our specific faith. There's not an exemption on the Golden Rule if the person is gay. There's not an asterisk next to the Second Greatest Commandment that allows you to opt out if it means in any way looking like you might inadvertently "support" a gay person or gay couple.

We Christians need to lead the fight for justice, justice for all, not preserving privilege for a few. We certainly shouldn't be in favor of passing laws that make it legal to discriminate against people.

Finally, if you aren't swayed by my talk of justice, let's also be a bit pragmatic. Have you considered the possible unintended consequences of this bill? Do you think this could be used to abuse Christians? Because I wouldn't be surprised to find a few Christians being on the receiving end of discrimination based on someone else's religious values. After all, Christianity isn't the only religion in the United States.

Let's look at how the fine folks over at the Satanic Temple have used similar religious laws to their advantage. After Christians built a big Ten Commandments sculpture and put it in the statehouse, the ST commissioned a satanic statue to be built next to it. And since one religion is allowed to place sculptures in the Statehouse, it opens the door to everyone.

This is a silly example, of course, but it illustrates a larger point. Laws protecting others from discrimination by Christians ALSO protect Christians. We start changing the law to get around that, and others might take advantage. Next time it might not just be a silly statue. If we truly care about justice, let's make sure everyone, including ourselves, is protected. (See how that Golden Rule works?)

Related Reading:

Punch in the Face
How Christians can be OK with Gay Marriage
Truth, Justice, and the Muppet Way
This Open Letter to Gay Marriage Opponents


  1. Your “Punch in the Face” script was sent to me by a member of my small group bible study. I could not disagree with you more on the effects of and need for Religious Restoration of Freedom Acts (RFRA). Further, I believe that as Christians we can disagree with our brothers and sisters in Christ without name calling. But labeling them as “vile”, “bigoted” or “gay-bashers”; these very words are a punch to the face of your fellow Christ followers.
    The first RFRA law was passed in 1993 in response to a federal Supreme Court case that ruled a state did not have to show any compelling interest to burden/prevent the free exercise of a sincerely held religious belief. The court ruled that a state could criminalize the use of peyote even if it prevented Native Americans from exercising their (ancient) religious practices. RFRA was passed with broad bipartisan support and signed into law by Bill Clinton (no religious zealot by any measure) in response. State RFRA laws were required because the federal RFRA applies only to federal action. State RFRA laws were needed to prevent states from prohibiting the practice of religious beliefs like Native Americans use of peyote. Indiana and Arkansas are the 20th and 21st states to enact such laws. These laws do not allow discrimination against any group when it comes to public services. They allow religious practitioners to merely raise a defense to prevent someone from forcing or coercing them into participating in an act that violates their sincerely held religious belief. The law imposes a balancing test to be used to determine if the state is imposing a burden on religious practice that is unnecessary.
    None of the recent highly publicized cases involve a Christian refusing to sell flowers, cakes or pizza to a gay person. They haven’t involved a Christian’s refusal to photograph a gay person. There are no sincerely held religious beliefs that prevent a Christian from selling pizza to a gay person. In these types of case RFRA won’t shield the Christian. What the publicized cases have involved is a Christian’s refusal to participate in (attend) a gay wedding ceremony. Whether or not you approve/support gay marriage is irrelevant. We should all agree that a Christian (or Muslim) should not be forced to participate in a gay wedding ceremony when such a ceremony is an anathema to their religious beliefs. Christians believe fundamentally that marriage is a covenant relationship between one man and one woman. The Old Testament and teachings of Jesus in the New Testament are clear on this. Everyone is free to disagree with these teachings and persuade others they are wrong. BUT no one who agrees with and follows them should be forced by the state to participate.
    While it is true that public opinion is rapidly changing toward acceptance of gay relationships, Christianity has not. What the public or government [Caesar] accepts as right/good or moral is of no consequence to the Church. Let Caesar do what he likes but the Church should stand with its biblical interpretation. The law allows the killing of a seven pound 8 month old baby (late term abortion); it allows the charging of immoral and outrageous rates of interest on pay day loans and the like. But a Christian should not be involved in those types of actions. If a Christian believes, as Christians for two thousand years have believed, that marriage between man/man or woman/woman is wrong, why should they be required to participate? What is the compelling state interest which would require the state to force a Christian to provide services to or attend a gay wedding? There is none.
    Being a conscientious objector to war, the state found no compelling interest to force me to participate and thus exempted me from the draft in 1971. If I were to oppose gay weddings on sincerely held Christian belief, why can’t I conscientiously object to providing flowers, cakes or photography? []

  2. Thank you for your comment. And I do understand that this issue is a struggle for many Christians and churches. However, I think we can agree that Christians do not always have a good track record when it comes to our treatment of gays and lesbians. We have been hateful, we have been bigoted, we have been vile. We have swarmed the polls on election day to ensure that gays are second class citizens. We have championed leaders who promise to enshrine gay bashing into law. We have donated millions of dollars to groups whose sole aim is to hurt gay people. So you can understand why I might use such strong language to describe such attitudes and actions.

    Because someone needs to confront our fellow Christians on the errors of their ways. On their misapplication of the Gospel message.

    Now, I do agree that is it important in this country to protect religious liberty and religious expression of faith. And that there are times, such as war, in which it would be wrong to compel Christians to act against their beliefs. However, before we Christians want to have those same considerations applied to our beliefs about gay rights and gay marriage, let us first make sure that we ourselves are not trying to trample the rights of others. If Christians can agree that gays should have equal rights, if they support equality before the law for all gays, and that includes in marriage, then I will be happy to discuss the idea of whether Christians should be protected if they personally disagree with gay marriage.

    But make no mistake, the big issue right now, in 2015, is the fact that gays still do not have the same civil protections as everyone else. People can still be fired for being gay. Gays still can't get married in every state. Gays are still treated as second class citizens. Those issues are front and center, and if Christians want to keep insisting that they don't hate gays and are not trying to discriminate via these laws, then those same Christians ought to be fighting for gay rights.

    When gays and lesbians finally have the same protections afforded to Christians, then I'll be glad to have the conversation about what comes next. But as long as Christians are still fighting against gay rights, then I'm not going to be shy about calling them out for their actions.

  3. Dude, you'll have A-L-L the time in the universe and beyond to finish writing your stories if you join this sinfull mortal Upstairs in the Great Beyond. I've spent many, many years compiling my novels and our 21 blogs to give to the world the Saving POW!er of God... which I bestow upon you. God bless.