Is it Possible?
I saw this article the other day about a man working for a mining company who said he was forced to retire because of his religious beliefs. In a nutshell he was an evangelical Christian with strong dispensationalist beliefs of the “Left Behind” type. His company wanted him, and everyone else, to submit to biometric hand scanning as a way to monitor time and attendance. The man refused because he saw this as “the mark of the beast” talked about in the book of Revelations. He therefore lost his job.
Springing to his defense was a source that many evangelicals might find a bit surprising; the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the EEOC. We are much more at home thinking that federal agencies, particularly under President Obama, are raving enemies of religious freedom. In any event they took his case to court to defend his “sincerely held religious beliefs” and to oppose the company’s effort to force him to submit to the scanning.
And they won.
I follow a few websites dedicated to ferreting out “attacks on religious freedom,” if not outright persecution, being perpetrated in our country. None of them felt it important to note that the EEOC aggressively supported this man’s cause. I can’t help but think that a case like this, which doesn’t support the narrative they are pushing, is not something they want to focus on. This leads to this question…
Is it possible that there is no organized sinister war on religious freedom? Is it possible that the federal government, and every other level of government, is just trying to sort out what should, and should not, be law in an increasingly diverse society? It is possible they are trying to be fair to employees and employers; to merchants and customers; to all religious groups including the non-religious? Is it possible that religious freedom is just one of many freedoms that rub constantly against each other in a culture that no longer has an ethical consensus?
Is it possible that government agencies and staff are not the evil enemies of religion they are often portrayed as but rather fallible humans with their own biases and beliefs trying to do the best they know how? Is it possible that we can assume that is exactly what they are and react to their efforts with grace and kindness even when we differ?
That last question is the only one we can answer with assurance. Yes, it is.