I don’t often speak of politics on my blog. But I have seen something going on lately that I feel the urge to talk about. My home state is Arkansas. A bill – HB 1228, has been making some news lately. It is one of the “Religious Freedom Restoration” bills that a number of states have been passing lately.
AN ACT TO ENACT THE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RESTORATION ACT TO BE KNOWN AS MARY’S LAW; TO PROVIDE PROTECTION FOR RELIGIOUS PRACTICE AND TO PROVIDE REMEDIES AND PENALTIES FOR VIOLATING OR ABUSING RELIGIOUS PROTECTIONS; TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
It has also been called the “Conscience protection act.” The gist of it seems to be this: if a person objects to doing something on religious grounds, they shouldn’t have to do it. So, for example, under this law, theoretically a person could refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, if gay marriage was against their religious beliefs.
Some people are taking it further, and claiming that this law could be used to, for example, deny an apartment to an unmarried couple, refuse to service the pool of a Wiccan, deny restaurant entrance to to a Catholic or a Hindu if the restaurant was owned by a Protestant…And, of course, the opposite could be true, as well, I suppose – with Wiccans or Muslims denying service to Christians.
Supporters of the law say that this type of hyperbole is nonsense, and that the laws have safeguards built in to prevent that type of discrimination. There are a number of states that have passed or are in the process of passing this type of bill. It seems to be a backlash against a number of stories showing up in the media. Christian ministers who own a wedding chapel in Idaho have been told that they could face fines and jail time if they refuse to marry homosexual couples. A law suit was brought against the Church of England by a wealthy gay couple who wanted a church wedding. These are only a few of the ones that have been popping up here and there.
Now, I can understand a lot of people see the secular world encroaching on their beliefs. When I was a kid in Mississippi in the late 60s, despite the fact that the courts had already banned it, we had Bible class and prayer. In the public schools. Gasp. Things have changed a lot since then. In Southern California in the 90s, a Vice principle tried to ban the “see you at the pole” day, where students gather at the flag pole to pray before school starts. Last year, a Colorado school banned students from praying during their free time. Posters with Bible verses are banned. Prayers are banned, even wearing crosses have been banned in some schools – although symbols from other religions are often acceptable.
So, yes, I can see why people would support a bill like this. Something that allows someone to act according to their conscience seems like a good idea, especially with so many things encroaching on Christian religious freedom. I just wonder one thing.
Would Jesus support it? Would Jesus support a bill that would allow someone, in His name, deny service? Would he support something that could cause hurt? Pain? Discrimination? What would Jesus do? We each have to decide that for ourselves. But the best way of deciding that is to look at how he lived His life.
He “ate with tax collectors and sinners” Matthew 9: 10-11; Matthew 11:19; Mark 2:15-16; Luke 5:30; Luke 7:34.
The “tax collectors and sinners” gathered around him and listened to him. Luke 15:1
God did not send Jesus “to condemn the world, but to save it.” John 3:17 J
esus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery, or the sinful woman who washed his feet with her tears. John 8:1-11; Luke 7:36-50
When asked what the Greatest Commandment was, he said Love. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:34-39.
When asked “Who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:25-37, Jesus replied with a story of how a man was traveling and was set on by thieves who beat him and left him for dead. Two religious leaders, a priest and a Levite, saw the man and passed him by. But a Samaritan, whom the Jews thought of as far beneath them, saw him, and despite the traditional enmity, helped him, thus proving to be the good neighbor.
Jesus did condemn some people. Who were they? Hypocrites. People who made a show of being religious, but did not care about others; who spoke religion, but did not show mercy . Matthew 23.
Jesus touched lepers, associated with outcasts and with sinners. He brought healing to them, also, both physically and emotionally. He poured His love out to people that the established religion had discarded.
If I, as a Christian, cannot show Christ’s love to all, in the same way that He did – Why would anyone ever want to come to Christ?
So I ask myself, and you – Would Jesus support a law that would give someone a legal right to use His name to show a lack of love? Every person who believes in God, and who believes in Jesus, has a personal view, a personal concept. I know what I believe.
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is Love.” I John 4: 7-8