Thursday, February 27, 2014

"Religious Freedom" Bills: Rotten Apples

The recent rash of so-called “religious freedom” legislation proposed in several states is more than irritating. It is infected beyond healing, and the only way to eliminate it is to eliminate the source. Fortunately, we have a free and safe way of doing that in our country: elections.

There is so much that is wrong with these ideas, I hardly know where to begin.

First, I’ll say this: the idea that refusing to serve a particular person is an expression of the Christian Gospel is horrible and offensive and misguided and just plain wrong. There is no basis in scripture for this practice.

In fact, the opposite is true – followers of Christ are called to serve everyone, even (and one could say “especially”) sinners. So whether you believe same-sex relationships to be inherently sinful or not (I do not), that gives you NO cause to discriminate in any way, shape, or form against people who are gay. Disagreeing on the questions surrounding same-sex marriage is acceptable among loving, faithful, grace-filled followers of Jesus; violence, hatred, prejudice, and discrimination against another human being – ANY other human being – is not.

Secondly, the idea that discrimination against a group of people could be not only condoned, but actually legalized in our nation is profoundly antithetical to the fundamental principles that comprise America. We had this conversation in the 1950s and 60s, right? Sounds like a few lawmakers didn’t study their U.S. History in High School.

The first amendment says that Congress cannot make a law that either establishes a national religion or prevents people from practicing their chosen religion, or not. Letting a gay person shop in one’s store is not preventing one from practicing one’s religion. No religion of which I am aware has as one of its teachings, “Thou shalt not sell stuff to the gays.” This is not a practice in need of legal protection.

Thirdly, the idea that blatantly discriminatory legislation is actually intended to prevent discrimination is ludicrous. To frame these proposals as protecting religious freedom insults the reasonable mind and is as transparent as glass. Surely no one is so gullible as to actually believe this. Forcing a Christian to serve a gay person is not an infringement of religious freedom; it is not discrimination against Christians to ask them to treat all people fairly and justly.

As a Christian, I lament what ideas like this do to the perception of Christian people in our communities, around the nation, and throughout the world. One rotten apple spoils the whole barrel. The hateful attitude toward people who are gay is a clear and obvious hindrance to the mission to which we are called as the church and it needs to stop.

As a citizen of the United States, I am angry at the outright disregard being shown to the rights and responsibilities that form the foundation of our nation. “Jim Crow” is an ugly legacy that should be long gone from our experience, something we only read about in history books any more. And yet as it turns out, Jim Crow is alive and well; he has simply selected another target.

Both as a Christian and as an American, I stand against any attempt to legalize discrimination against people who are gay. I applaud Arizona Governor Jan Brewer for her veto, and the Kansas Senate for their discernment. I am hopeful that you will stand with me, and insist that our elected representatives immediately cease offering such horrible legislation here in Missouri and anywhere else it appears.


June Clark said...

Well said!

Barbara Bowser said...

Thank you Andy for your comments. They filled me with joy as I have been so humiliated that even our own UM Discipline adds to discrimination against homosexual sisters and brothers. I stand with you in your opinion, as it helps me to think I might be able to continue attending a UM church. In Christ, Rev. Barbara Bowser

Stacey S. said...

Soooo well written! This entire post is filled with excellent points. I am especially disappointed with the situation discussed in paragraph 8: There are so many churches that aren't even following the most simple lessons from Jesus! And these are the churches getting the publicity. It's no wonder that doubters/seekers have such a huge problem coming to and trusting "church". I continue to pray that more and more of those that call themselves "Christians" but continue to condone hatred, legalized discrimination, unwarranted judgement, and bigotry will actually realize what it means to be a CHRISTIAN. Thank you for your thoughtful and ignorance-challenging comments. I hope this post reaches and enlightens many.

dscsf1 said...


Jo Beth Karr said...

Thank you Andy! These comments filled my heart today. Great timing. I have needed to read these words so that I could better put to words what I believe. This nails it.

TJ Vaughn said...

Thank you for this! Beautifully stated. I will stand with you on this at any time, any place!

Terri Williams said...

Amen! Well said.

KC Bob said...

Good stuff Andy! I shared on FB.

Dave O'Brien said...

So, Andy, while you would rightfully not hand a stone to a Pharisee to throw at an adulterer, you are more than happy to "serve" her by providing her a place to commit adultery?