Here we are at another media-driven virtual mob. From broadcast news to fringe blogs the nation seems hysterical over Indiana's temerity at passing legislation that affirms the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in regards to the free exercise of religion. Of course this is very similar to legislation that Bill Clinton signed in the 90's and many other states have enacted.
Critics claim the legislation is an attack on the LGBT community and the new found right for same-sex couples to marry. Funny, I don't read that in the law, and it does not do those things. Facts do not matter to a mob though. Reason is in very short supply when, induced by liberal media, Big Business bullies and celebrities rush out to show how indignant they are with Indiana's hateful law. Boycott Indiana! Threaten them with shortage of skilled (re: "diverse") labor! Threaten to relocate businesses and remove the precious NCAA basketball tournament! States to ban official travel to Indiana! Call the governor names and shame them all!
A somewhat more arguable point is that the legislation will permit individuals and businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians (and don't forget the bi-sexuals and transgenders). Of course the law doesn't promote that or even address that. It allows for the free exercise of religion, a right given by God and acknowledged in the 1st Amendment.
For people that bother to think through this latest "scandal," a perceived issue does exist. It's the perceived conflict between civil rights and religious rights. The thinking is that gay and lesbian rights are being threatened by the exercise of others' religious rights. The liberal mind sees this as no contest; basically because religious rights are deemed illegitimate and probably just a cover for hateful intolerance anyway. (I don't have time to address it here, but some faithful Christians would say gay and lesbian "rights" are illegitimate because no one has the "right" to disobey God's law.)
What compounds trying to comprehend the mob's accusations is that we have lost the real meaning of words. "Discrimination" has become a heavily loaded battle word. I'd say it is right up there with "intolerance" now as a bludgeon of the Left. The worst thing you can have happen is to be accused of discrimination and intolerance. Better to have contracted a deadly disease.
However, all of us discriminate everyday. When you make a decision to use ketchup instead of mustard, or watch Channel 2 instead of 4 you are discriminating. Discriminating is about choosing between various options or attributes. It's about, according to Webster's, distinguishing between things. We must, of course, consider the object and purpose of discrimination.
Discrimination can be an offense when it is based on something other than individual merit. That is to favor one thing, or person, or be against a thing, or person, categorically instead of its, or their, intrinsic individual merit. Ahhh, but what if I were to discriminate precisely because of individual merit? What if I favor a tall person for my basketball team? Yes, I am discriminating based on the merit of the individual and it happens all the time. It is not offensive or immoral. What if I exclude a gambling addict from being treasurer of my club? I am discriminating based on the merit (or lack of praiseworthy quality) of the individual and would be making a wise, moral choice.
Indiana, and now Arkansas, are in the cross hairs of a virtual mob. They have moved to ameliorate the mob (it won't work; it's a mob) by passing additional legislation that specifically says the Religious Restoration Act cannot be used by individuals or businesses to discriminate against anyone based on sexual orientation. You can understand their move with the heat they are taking, but I feel they are making a very big mistake.
What they are agreeing to is that the 1st Amendment's free exercise clause is no longer in effect. Worse than that; they are passing legislation that makes a person or business criminal for acting on their religious beliefs. Why bother with the Religious Restoration Act if you are going to pass another law that criminalizes actions of faithful people who in rare, but necessary, occasions discriminate against actions that offend their faith?
If, as a sincere practicing Christian, you believe certain behavior is considered sinful before God you should discriminate against it. As a Christian you do not want to associate with actions God views as sinful. You should apply the full, inoffensive meaning of "discriminate" in this case. Thus a Christian baker would discriminate and refuse to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding!
On the other hand, it would be an immoral and offensive discrimination to refuse to sell a lesbian a birthday cake. How so? Well, you would be discriminating based on category (someone who claims to be a lesbian) and not on an action that is compromising your religious beliefs. I do not know of any religion that finds celebrating birthdays as sinful! (After many birthdays they may become regretful.) In reality, none of the cases that have made national news were cases where the business refused to serve gays because of their identity. They all have been businesses (bakeries, florists, photographers) who could not be a participant in action they saw as against God's law (i.e., same-sex marriage).
(To my gay friends, as a Bible-believer, I don't condone their behavior and they know this. I do not "categorically" reject them or discriminate them. And by the way, I am a sinner and they have not befriended me! However, if a gay friend asked me to their same-sex wedding I would decline, and if a heterosexual friend asked me to help him move in with his girl friend [so he can "live with her"] I would also decline. I cannot participate in an activity that the Bible tells me God is against. I can still love my friends and I can still be friendly to them, but I will discriminate - not against them - but against a behavior or activity.)
The businesses above rightly discriminated based on individual merit. They rightly discriminated against activity that was contrary to their religious beliefs. For that, in this formerly free land, they are criminalized. The mob will not listen to any talk of reason (such as what it means to discriminate) or the free exercise of religion. Government officials and many businesses are intimidated and are now compliant before the politically correct mob.
Christians saw this coming. It does not mean we have to be silent.
Thursday, February 19, 2015
It is politically incorrect to question someone's patriotism. It seems no matter how bitter political opponents are they will not go there. Think of recent national elections and when it got heated the offended party would exclaim with indignation, "are you questioning my patriotism?" The answer always has been something like: "I am not doubting your patriotism, we just disagree on what is best for the country..." Even when the suspect was Barack Obama, who seems to never miss an opportunity to criticize America, the retort was that we would never question his patriotism, just his ideas or his actions or his motivations.