The images in this post have been selected around the theme “Other Times in American History When Laws were in place to protect the Freedom of Some People…at the Expense of the Rights of Others”
In a report from the Indy Star, Indiana Mayor Mike Pence signed into law the “Religious Freedom Act,” and one of the supporters of the act, Eric Miller of Advance America was quoted as saying, “It is vitally important to protect religious freedom in Indiana.”
Why? Why is it so vitally important to protect religious freedom in Indiana? The statement implies that there are dark forces out there trying to crack down on all this religious freedom that has just been running amok in the Hoosier State.
And yet the law itself flies in the face of MY Religion, and the religion of many Hoosiers: Christianity.
Ours is an institution and a faith that rests entirely on the theological belief that our God loves EVERYONE, no matter what, and our God EXCLUDES NO ONE…no matter what. This is a religion founded on the testament of Jesus of Nazareth and his followers who witnessed their leader arrested by the state, and put to death by the state, and then resurrected by God three days later. Interestingly, that’s a story we’ll all be spending a lot of time on next week.
This new law gives Indiana business owners the right to refuse services to anyone on religious grounds, right? My religion says we are supposed to be free from anyone having the ability to do that.
OUR Religion says–and has said time and time again–that NO ONE has the right to exclude, oppress, or otherwise segregate anyone for ANY reason, especially “Religion.”
I’m tired of having to explain to my non-church friends, “No, no, we don’t actually hate people, that’s not what we’re about.” I’m tired of having to fight so hard against this tide of church-sponsored bigotry and state-sponsored oppression…and for some reason have to pretend like my religion has anything to do with those things.
As long as there are laws preventing anyone from being seen as something other than who they truly are–a Beloved Child of God–we are not free to practice our religion. In fact, many of my beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christian ministry are actively breaking the law every single day as they perform marriages that the state doesn’t recognize, give safe shelter to those who the government does not recognize as “legitimate” citizens, stand in the way of perfectly legal enterprises that seek to destroy our natural environment and destroy the homes of American citizens. I could go on. And on and on. To live out my faith and celebrate my religion in public, I am constantly having to stand in opposition to public opinion and government-sanctioned mandates.
Why does your religion deserve freedoms that ours does not?
Our country has this weird and consistent paradox: We are a nation founded on religious freedom for all, but time and time again there seems to be a group of people who assume that THEIR religion is the only one deserving of that freedom. And that group seems to get smaller and smaller all the time.
We saw this with slavery, we saw this with women’s rights, with the civil rights movement and Jim Crowe Laws, we’re seeing it play out every single day as we attempt to care better for our environment, our LGBTQ sisters and brothers, and all other oppressed and demonized groups of people. Consistently, there are those who will claim “religious freedom” or “States rights” or “scientific proof that those people are different from us people” but these are all red herrings. What they mean to say is, “I just want to hate on some people!”
If it quacks like duck and walks like a duck, we know what to call it right? If it sounds like hate, and it looks like segregation, and it acts like an infringement on a person’s birthright to live however they want…then we need to call it those things…even if it’s trying to dress up in respectable, Religious or Government-sponsored clothes.
What’s happening in Indiana right now has nothing to do with supporting the religious views of anyone I know in Indiana…or outside of it, either, for that matter. For too long we have allowed the message of hate to be mixed up with the language of religion.
What happens when we simply say, “Sorry, hatred and exclusion are not recognized as expressions of any religion we are aware of? The great religious traditions of the world are about Love.”
We’ll have a much easier time getting that message out there when we refuse to allow hateful people to hide behind their “Religious Freedoms,” as we continue to practice our core religious principles of Love and Justice…whether we are “free” to, or not.