There is a firestorm of controversy over the recently enacted Indiana Religious Freedom law. Nineteen other states have similar laws and Arkansas is moving towards the same. The laws are largely modeled in line with federal legislation which was signed by President Bill Clinton. The negative reactions have led some to boycott travel to Indiana.
- These laws are civil, so disputes bring lawsuits, not criminal citations or charges
- Civil laws primarily regulate marketplace activity
- These laws appear to specifically be useful as a defense when sued
- This means they potentially provide legal justification for businesses to turn down customers based on activity which is contrary to their legitimate religious convictions
Some civil rights groups are claiming that this could lead to discrimination against the LGBT community and possibly even justify discrimination based on race or other factors. While the claim that it could embolden rejection of LGBT business appears legitimate, the thought that it is legal excuse for racial discrimination is exaggerated. Race is among the protected classes of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, while sexual orientation is not.
The reaction from advocates LGBT and civil rights activists appears to be heightened by political agenda moreso than legal analysis or cases of actual discrimination. It appears to be an opportunistic cry for justice where none was denied.
At the same time, I wonder why legislators or Christian business owners believe this legislation is effective or necessary in the first place? I wonder why/how a Christian business owner might think that their beliefs are threatened by a homosexual client and refuse service to that client? If that business owner has been born again as a new creation in Jesus, how does the conduct of another jeopardize that new life? Following the logic, then overweight people should be candidates for rejection because of gluttony, rich people for greed, confident people for pride, etc.
Jesus loves the LGBT community as much as He loves me in the middle of all of my behaviors, good and bad. When He was a carpenter, I can’t imagine he would refuse a customer based on how they disagree with His message any more than I can imagine He would invoke a statute to defend His proclamations of eternal truth and love.
If Jesus would build a table or a bookshelf for them, and I think He would, then He would have at least that much relationship with them. From that relationship, He could share life with them. From the sharing of life, there can be the sharing of belief. From that sharing of belief which comes when engaged in respectful relationship, maybe somebody would know His love and accept His sacrifice as their own. That carpentry job would not invalidate His message one ounce, in fact it would only strengthen it. His message, after all, is grace.