I am a big fan of religious freedom. And, in Jesus, we are never without it, no matter how emperors may oppress or what laws might pass.
As a follower of Jesus, I have freedom in droves.
I am free to model my entire life after His, as a disciple follows a rabbi (Matthew 7:24).
I am free to model Jesus’ practice of sitting and eating with those society has marginalized or deemed less than human (Matthew 9:11).
I am free to model Jesus’ practice of throwing no stones because I myself am no better or worse (John 8:11).
I am free to live as one who sees the humanity in people and makes compassion and empathy common practice (Matthew 25:35).
I am free to give my time, resources, and care to anyone in need (Luke 10:37).
I am free to model Jesus’ teaching that hate and lust are far worse than murder and adultery (Matthew 5:22).
I am free to live out Jesus’ teaching that the plank in my own eye stands out more than the speck in my brother’s or sister’s eye (Matthew 7:5).
I am free to practice Jesus’ teaching that some things are to be valued more than rigid adherence to the Law: justice, mercy, faith (Matthew 23:23).
I am free to live fully into the two greatest commands: to love him, and to love my neighbor in the way I myself want to be loved (Matthew 22:39).
I am free to model Jesus’ practice of loving people before lecturing them, and welcoming all to the Table (Matthew 22:1-14).
I am free to practice wholeness, and to participate in restoring all people and all creation back to its Oneness with God (Luke 19:8).
Against such things there is no law.
WHY I OPPOSE HB 1228
I believe HB 1228 is not a representation of the “religion” Jesus taught his disciples to practice. I believe it draws a line between imaginary Good Guys and Bad Guys, a line Jesus died trying to erase. He clearly taught that separating the “Sheep” from the “Goats” is a task left up to the angels. Not to mention that “Sheep” are those who see the humanity in all people and treat them accordingly.
While I am no legal scholar, I find the bill redundant. Businesses already possess the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason, and Arkansas does not currently have any laws that explicitly protect people from discrimination based on sexual preference or gender identity. What, then, is the need for this bill in Arkansas?
I am also no economist, but I cannot imagine that bills like HB 1228 make much fiscal sense. Look at what’s happening already in Indiana – Angie’s List withdrew a $40M expansion of its company in Indianapolis. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, has denounced the bill and would surely follow the way of Angie’s List. Corporations will think twice before furthering business in states that pass such laws. What, then, is the good of this bill in Arkansas?
For these reasons, I oppose HB 1228. It’s a contentious issue, but it need not be. Surely in the year 2015 we can have reasonable dialogue with all sides agreeing to see the Other with compassion and empathy. Surely as Straight, L, G, B, or T Americans, we are capable of living together in ways that bring out the best in each other. As followers of Jesus it is within us to see the Image of God in all people, whether or not we agree with their lifestyle. We ought to be on the front line of showing the world the power of love and generosity. We’re capable of living in a way that points us more toward what God intended Earth to be, a world filled with his glory, love and shalom.
And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. The greatest is love.