Within the past few days and/or weeks, there have been a number religious freedom bills in the news. From North Carolina to Georgia and beyond, there have been bills passed under the umbrella of protecting the rights of Americans to freely express their religious beliefs. Some were signed into law, and some were vetoed. All were passed by Republican led or dominated legislatures. The same Republican Party that often claims to be the defenders of the Constitution among other things.
In this rash of legislation from the Right, not one time have I heard the claims of “shredding the Constitution” which was thrown about any time Obama did something that was not liked by his opposition. I guess you can’t really calling it shredding the Constitution when you basically pretend that it doesn’t exist in the first place.
Why does any state or local government feel that they have to legislate religious freedom in the first place? Did our Founding Fathers not already accomplish that on a very broad basis with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?
Right there, in plain English, it states “…prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” in regards to Congress making laws on religion. The Constitution itself guarantees the protection of religious freedom. The need for state intervention on behalf of religion does not exist beyond the imagination of the “what if” crowd. Now, let’s dig into WHY this legislation has been popping up like prairie dogs out of den holes.
Those who try to claim that it’s not about discrimination against the LGBTQ community need to be honest with themselves. This isn’t the first time that religion or religious beliefs have been wielded like a baseball bad in a pod of baby seals, and I’m sure that it won’t be the last time. I recall religion being prominently used by some/many to justify slavery as well as Jim Crow. So, don’t act like people haven’t seen this particular theatrical production before. If it were not about discrimination, then why is every example used to explain the need for this legislation involve some incident involving people from the LGBTQ community?
Has anyone seen a Republican that supports religious freedom legislation on TV openly advocating for Muslims to be able to use Sharia Law without undue government interference? Islam is just as much a religion as Christianity. I haven’t seen any Republicans standing behind Judaism, Hindusim, or Buddhism either. What about their right to freely observe their religious freedoms?
See, if were truly about the free expression of religion, the whole issue wouldn’t be confined to protecting Christians. We would see Rabbis, Imams, Monks, and others standing at the podium with these grandstanding politicians in support of this legislation. However, we don’t see such a site, and I doubt we ever will.
I understand the sensitive nature of discussing religion, and please don’t get my words twisted. I’m not bashing Christianity, and I am not bashing Christians. I wake up every morning and pray, thanking God for what I’ve received and been blessed with. I’ve never had anyone, government or private citizen, attempt to stop me from expressing my religious beliefs either. I’m mature enough to understand that we live in a secular country, and not everyone will believe in the same things as I do. I respect that, and I respect those who believe as I do as I respect those who do not. I don’t discriminate.
Some Christians need to step back and assess themselves and their actions. Jesus died on the cross between two thieves. He did not segregate himself away from sinners and lepers, remember? Who are we to think that we are doing his will by segregating ourselves and ostracizing others because they are sinners in the eyes of God? Do these legislators think they know better than God himself?
Don’t play with religion and the Bible offers a warning about the repercussions of of doing so.
Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Just because you claim to be doing the work of the Lord does not actually mean you are doing it. The Bible does make mention of what you do “for the least of these” and something about doing “unto others”. Remember that in your daily life, if you believe in those words. I remember that always, and I treat everyone the same no matter what. It’s not my right or my job to judge them, and that’s why I would never support any of the religious freedom bills as they are presented as they explicitly judge and openly discriminate. That’s not what the Bible teaches us to do.