The Brewer veto and religious liberty

February 27, 2014

There has been a good deal of crazy talk and harsh words cast about concerning the now vetoed Arizona legislation that would have defended individual religious liberty. Personal attacks (“bigot,” etc) are the typical tolls of those who have no real argument. Although I am not expert on the matter, my inclination is to back the proposed law and to bewail Governor Brewer’s executive action which killed it.

This does not make me a “wing nut” or some kind of social extremist. Anybody who knows me would find such accusations to be almost hilarious. The fact is that I have been subjected to a certain amount of criticism by my Evangelical brothers and sisters for not holding a more vehement and hateful position toward homosexuals. But how could I? The fire-breathing stuff is fairly easy for those who don’t get out much, but I know plenty of gay folks and, so far as I can see, most are fine people.

My wish is that they would “repent.” That is a biblical word that actually means “change.” Now, that is certainly not as easy as it sounds and one must appreciate the power of such factors as sexual desires. Just look around and tell me if you honestly think gay people are the only ones who should change. It is my opinion that homosexuality is “hard-wired” into the personality and that I should be very understanding of other people. In other words, one should get the two-by-four out of your own eye before fishing the speck out of the other guy’s (Matt 7:3-5). Call me a bigot, but that means exactly nothing.

Gay people deserve to have jobs and all the other necessities of life and the rights of citizenship. I do not happen to think that this extends to the recognition of “gay marriage,” but I am in the minority on that. I am not entitled to personally belittle gays any more than the majority is entitled to call me ugly names. Do not, under any circumstances, compare me to the KKK. Those people have a historic reputation as murders and domestic terrorists.

This brings us to the Arizona legislation. It is not an extremist rant to suppose that people have a right to act on their religious beliefs. It ought to be pretty obvious that this does not extend to rationalizing away criminal acts or depriving anybody of the rights associated with property, life, and citizenship. If the baker opposes gay marriage and backs it up by not accepting the wedding business that might come from it, so be it. It is a question of conscience and religious practice, which should generally trump just about any other interest. Our founders were familiar with real religious persecution and had a fear of what might come from religious passions.

A good deal of the dumb stuff in this supposed conversation has come from my side, so let’s get a few things straight here. The definition of “Evangelical” is of no relevance to the discussion. Whether or not Lydia (a wealthy woman in the book of Acts)  sold anything to pagans matters nada. I imagine that Paul probably sold one or two of his tents to scoundrels. Let us not loose sight of the crucial issue.

Those who lack of sense of history fail to recall that the governing documents in the old Soviet Union granted freedom of religion. The thing they prohibited was the actual exercise of religion. It is exactly the same issue faced by Arizona lawmakers and Governor. It is the same thing, an identical denial of personal religious freedom.

I mean no harm to gay people -ever. I regret those self-proclaimed religious authorities who do wish ill for their fellow human beings, all created in the image and likeness of God. Our mutual failure to deal with this important issue bodes nothing but evil.

 

 

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