My fellow conservatives and Christians, I write and ask you to read this with an open mind. Governor Pence and the legislature in Indiana are dead wrong on the issue of Gay Rights, and unfortunately many good conservatives and Christians share this wrong viewpoint. I write asking those of you who support the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to re-examine the issue and be open to the possibility that legislation such as the inaptly named RFRA is actually contrary to our principles as both conservatives and Christians.
First as conservatives, we should look with skepticism on any regulation that allows two citizens to be treated differently based on a legally irrelevant issue – such as Religion. And subjecting any citizens to discrimination within what should be a free economy is doing just that. The RFRA encourages discrimination within the marketplace based on a belief that a certain type of consumer is undesirable. My friends, this is the same as allowing business to have separate bathrooms designated by race. This is the same as allowing businesses to refuse to serve people based on the color of their skin. This is the same as allowing businesses to refuse to allow certain people to enter through the front door. Discrimination against race and religion are held to similar standards in this country for good reason, and a statute allowing discrimination based on religious belief should be viewed in the same light as allowing discrimination based upon race.
The RFRA is actually exactly the type of legislation that caused many of our ancestors flee their homelands due to religious persecution and come to American, seeking the religious freedom that is guaranteed by our separation of Church and State. The RFRA is a law that allows people to force their religious beliefs on others, an idea that is anathema to both our Constitution and the ideals of our Founding Fathers. I believe that our nation was founded on a Judeo-Christian morality, and that morality remains an important part of our culture and heritage. However, I also believe that a part of that morality requires us to not allow differences in religious viewpoints to marginalize the civil rights and economic freedoms of any citizens of our nation.
Contrary to the modern spin of the left, conservatives and Republicans have been at the forefront of every major milestone in the expansion of civil rights in this country. From the Civil War and the end of slavery – as lead by Republicans, through the enactment of Women’s Suffrage and the abolition of Jim Crow – also lead by Republicans, the right has been on the correct side of these issues. However, many conservatives and Christians are on the wrong side of gay rights. It is really a simple issue, gay people are human, and thus entitled to human rights as much as any other citizen of this country. You may disagree with homosexuality or feel it is immoral or sinful. Though I disagree, it is your right to have that political opinion or religious belief. However, your right to have that opinion or belief does not carry with it the right to inflict that opinion or belief upon others. It does not mean that the rights of gay Americans should be infringed upon in any way.
Quite frankly, it is my opinion that the Supreme Court was correct in Lawrence v. Texas when it abolished the criminalization of sodomy between consenting adults, and will almost certainly be correct when it upholds the large majority of U.S. Circuits that have found marriage to be a civil right that extends to homosexuals. It is also my opinion that the Supreme Court was also correct in Hobby Lobby, holding that the government should never force a person to violate legitimate religious principles. Hobby Lobby prevented the Government from forcing a closely held company from paying for contraception against the important religious beliefs of its owners. The Supreme Court found for Hobby Lobby because the government was actively forcing an individual to violate a religious belief. That is not what the RFRA is about. The RFRA does not force business owners to violate a religious principle, instead it empowers them to force their religious viewpoints upon others – ultimately curtailing the religious freedom of those it discriminates against. By empowering corporations to inflict their religious viewpoints on the public, the RFRA divests a portion of the American citizenry their equal rights in commerce simply because those citizens do not follow the religious beliefs of the owners of the corporation.
That is not only unconstitutional, but also against the core conservative viewpoints that the Government should be kept out of the private lives of people and not infringe upon the freedom of the economy. Conservatives should realize that as soon as the government begins to erode the rights of one classification of citizen, they can just as easily erode the rights of other classifications. This is an issue of the Government overstepping its bounds in regulating both religion and the economy. Conservatives should be against such an act.
As a Christian, I am not going to address the question whether homosexuality is a sin. That is a religious viewpoint between an individual and God, and not relevant to my argument. I am, however, going to address how Christians should treat anyone who they might deem to be sinners – including homosexuals if they do believe such activity is sinful. Assuming only for the sake of argument that Homosexuality is what Catholics would call a Cardinal Sin – one that causes the soul to risk damnation, I posit that even such belief would not support a good Christian supporting the RFRA.
The central tenant to any Christian faith is that the believer live a Christ-like existence. So the simple question is, does the RFRA support the viewpoints that Jesus espoused in the Gospels? I submit the answer is clearly no. First, there is no question that Jesus would want us to love those who we disagree with, regardless of what sin they may commit. Further, Jesus speaks strongly against practicing righteousness in public, indicating religion is a private matter between a Christian and God and not a subject for legislation. Further, Jesus could not have been clearer that he would not want us passing laws based on our judgment of the sinfulness of others. In fact, if Jesus owned a business he would likely welcome sinners to be a part of it. Jesus ate with the sinners and spent time with the sinners, and when the Pharisees criticized them for it, he rebuked them. Jesus’s teachings are in direct contrast with a law that allows one to alienate or discriminate against a neighbor who might be sinful. In contrast, I submit that in the four Gospels there is nothing to indicate Jesus ever taught that the laws of man should be in any way relevant to the laws of God, nor that Christians should in any way judge or discriminate against their fellow man.
While I understand that my viewpoint is not the one espoused by many Christians or within the dogma of many churches, I simply say that my viewpoint is one that is supported by the Gospel. Further, while parts of Leviticus and certain letters by Paul may be read to condemn homosexuality, I submit that it is not for us as Christians to judge our fellow man and certainly not to pass laws that would encourage Christians to make such judgments. Thus, I request that my fellow Christians and conservatives who have been in favor of the RFRA re-evaluate the law. I ask that they examine whether they can agree with me that both our conservative and Christian values call upon us to oppose laws that allow any form discrimination in the name of religion.