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Losing by Winning

March 31, 2015

I’ve been following the flap in Indiana over the recent passing of the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” with interest.  Depending on what you are reading/hearing you will be informed that:

  1. This bill is not substantially different than a federal law of the same name and 19 other state bills that have been passed without hoopla.
  2. This bill is specifically designed to put new obstacles in the path of equality.
  3. This bill does not in any way promote or endorse discrimination, it merely protects religious freedom.
  4. This bill was written for no other purpose than to give a “religious freedom” card to all who want to discriminate, in particular against gays.

Sigh.  The list could go on and on and, if you Google the title of this bill, you will see through the amazing number of choices that come up that the debate surely will too.  The only link I will supply is this one, which goes to the actual text of the bill.  Good luck reading it.

You can find any number of erudite explanations of what impact the bill might have all on your own.  My suggestion, should you decide to do such a study, is to specifically read and ponder the words of people with whom you disagree.  Few things are more destructive to dialogue and clear thinking than only listening to those who already agree with us.

The main point of contention in this story is the following wording in the bill:

“A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.”

Wording of this type is not in the federal legislation, nor in 18 of the 19 state laws.  It should be noted that “person” in this law, following the ruling of the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case, also applies to for-profit corporations.  For-profit corporations are exempted not only from state actions but also from civil actions; this law can be used as a defense in civil suits.

Curiously, employees of such corporations are not given protection for their actions based on religious beliefs.  So, if the owners of a business do not want to serve gays (or any other people where they feel serving them would violate their religious freedom) they are protected.  If however an employee does not want to serve them they are not protected from firing, suit or government action.

I really don’t want to debate this other than saying that being required to serve people we don’t like or don’t agree with seems, to me at least, to be part of the price we pay for running a business in an open society.  But my real concern is this:

This is Holy Week in which we honor the death, and rejoice in the resurrection, of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  There is no clearer example of winning by losing.  The point of what was seen as a great defeat, the horrifying death on the cross, was in fact his greatest victory.  Christian culture warriors seem intent on turning our Savior’s “winning by losing” stand 180 degrees around.  They seem to be relentless in their efforts to be “losing by winning.”  The Indiana story, as is the case with so many others, is filled with culture warrior cries of victory.  And, when tens of thousands of people recoil in horror and wonder how we can be so hateful, do they rethink their stand?  No.  Instead they cry persecution.  Maybe we should try winning by losing.  Maybe following the example of Jesus might be better than standing it on its head.


From → Christianity

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