Yesterday the Governor of Indiana signed into law the ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act’. First let me say that I am not a legal expert. I don’t understand the nuances of law language. I read the language of the RFR Act, and I kind of shrugged my shoulders and wondered what the implications of such an ‘Act’ might have on individuals in Indiana. After all, as far as I know, people everywhere in America are free to practice their religion, at least in theory.
It seems, however, that the RFR Act protects business owners who don’t want to serve certain kinds of people from being sued for discrimination. Now, business owners have the protection of the state of Indiana to discriminate against whomever they like, so long as they have a ‘religious basis’ for it. Human Rights Campaign, an organization that fights for LGBT equality, said in the Huffington Post yesterday “‘The evangelical owner of a business providing a secular service can sue claiming that their personal faith empowers them to refuse to hire Jews, divorcees, or LGBT people. A landlord could claim the right to refuse to rent an apartment to a Muslim or a transgender person'” (here is that article).
Two questions immediately pop into my mind when I think about this. First, what kind of darkness is inside of the people who would advocate for such a law? No religious system that I am aware of promotes discrimination of service or hiring practices. I know many religious people who think this way, but I know of no basis for this type of discrimination in religious systems. In which case, I would be interested to see what a legal argument based on religion would look like that would argue that, based on the religion of Christianity, a business owner is justified in refusing to serve ‘certain types of people’. Consistency would require such ‘Christians’ to refuse service to those who are greedy, hateful, envious of others, murderers, adulterers, malicious people, argumentative people, gossips, backstabbers, prideful people, boastful people, promise breakers, any person who commits sexual sin, people who worship things over God, drunkards, thieves, abusers, cheaters, liars, slave-drivers, people who commit perjury, and children who disobey their parents.
Wait…that means consistency would require businesses to discriminate against everyone on the basis of religion.
The point of long-lists of vices such as these in the New Testament is not to emphasize the importance of Christian moral purity, a sort of Pharisaical distancing from sinners of all kinds, but to emphasize that all of us are equal. We are all just as bad as everyone else. This law stands no chance of surviving in court, and it evidences how deeply hateful and ugly religious people are and can be, and how they have decided to stay in bed with the government, committing idolatry themselves.
The second question is this: When did Christians miss the emphasis, found throughout the entire canon of Scripture, on loving neighbors, strangers, and enemies. You see homosexuals as the enemy? Jesus says to love them. You see Muslims as the enemy? Jesus says to love them. This morning, on the Chicago Tribune website, Rex Huppke wrote, “I don’t know what faith would support the harm, the mental anguish, that comes from that kind of shunning, from the stubborn refusal to accept people for who they are and love them regardless” (read his article here).
The problem is that my homosexual friends know what kind of faith supports that sort of harm and shunning. That faith, increasingly, is Christianity. Christians in Indiana have chosen to lobby their state government to allow them to harm and shun anyone they think is impure or abominable.
This is anti-Christ.
For my friends that are especially alarmed by this legislation, who feel that they have been told loud and clear that Christians and Christianity does not accept them, please hear this: I am a Christian, and I love you. I am a Christian, and I see no basis for hurting you, holding you back, or telling you you are unlovable. Heppke goes on to say in his article that he knows the faith of the majority of people in this country does not support this sort of inanity. I agree.
May we be light and not darkness.
May we love all, knowing we are all just as bad as everyone else.
May we speak out against the discrimination of others, in the name of Jesus.