Bob Barcus > 2015 > March > What Have You Done?

What Have You Done?

Posted by Bob Barcus on March 27th, 2015

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written a blog post, but it would appear that today is the day I break my blog silence. Things have been so busy (and professionally frustrated) that I just haven’t had the energy to write. However, events this week have irked me so much, I had to vent.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was signed into law earlier this week by Indiana Governor Mike Pence. This was a mistake and here’s why…

Regardless of what the law says, it was crafted around the idea of protecting the “religious liberties” (meaning faith-based bigotry and discrimination) of those of the Christian faith. Advocates for SB 101 include Advance America, a conservative think tank, which states directly on its website:

SB 101 will help protect religious freedom in Indiana by providing protection for individuals with sincerely held religious beliefs, along with Christian businesses and churches.

SB 101 will help protect individuals, Christian businesses and churches from those supporting homosexual marriages and those supporting government recognition and approval of gender identity (male cross-dressers).

There is no mention of other religions in their statement, just Christianity. As a Christian myself, I take offense to this. Little did I know that there was so much widespread condemnation of Christian businesses and people in the Hoosier State (oh wait, there isn’t). But now given this new law, religious people of all faiths are encouraged to discriminate against whomever they choose for whatever reason based upon their own personal beliefs, even if they are not a practicing believer.

Last night, while talking to my mother in the kitchen, she posed a poignant question, “So you mean that if a Muslim doesn’t want to serve me in his gas station, then he doesn’t have to because I’m Christian?” Aside from the undertones she made, under this law that answer would be yes. In fact, I doubt if anyone has understood the true and broad impact of this law and how it could be applied in a number of everyday circumstances. Rather than bringing us together, this law does nothing but tear us apart as a society. It draws lines in the sand with the guaranteed protection of the State.

Let’s be honest with ourselves and see this law for what is really is – a way for Christians to discriminate against those it deems unworthy. But perhaps, these same so-called Christians should read a little bit more into the Bible and understand the context in which it was written and the basis for its existence. You cannot claim to love someone and push them aside at the same time.

In his open letter to the supporters of the RFRA, Reverend Brent Wright wrote, “Any use of Christianity to justify discrimination is evidence of a misunderstanding about who Jesus was and what the good news Jesus lived means for humanity.” Wright is more than right in his statement and as it was put in John 13:34-35:

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

…or have most Christians forgotten their faith and taken up prejudice against thy neighbor? Those of faith will argue that they are not discriminating against anyone, but I’ll call it as I see it. If you use the basis of this law to deny services to someone, then you are morally repugnant.

The madness that is this law has me scratching my head in amazement. It is a law written not out of necessity, but out of fear. According to an article in the News and Tribune, one Baptist pastor confirmed this by stating, “Religious people are scared.” Christians are fearful that they are being persecuted for their religious belief and are under attack. Many churches, religious organizations and Fox News say they are under attack, but where is this happening? Give me one good example. The separation of church and state is a founding principle of this country and should be maintained.

The door swings both ways on this law and I hope those who crafted are ready for the repercussions. There are a number of hypothetical scenarios spelled out on the Freedom Indiana website dealing with child welfare, domestic violence, public safety and more.

Earlier this week, I made a donation to Open for Service, a community action campaign that opposes discrimination in all of its forms. As a small business owner, I have taken the moral high ground and have chosen to open my doors to all people. All I can hope is that other businesses make the same choice and voice their support for diversity and inclusiveness.


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