Helping Protect Religious Freedom In Indiana

OK, let me get this straight.  Freedom Indiana has just announced their opposition to . . . wait for it . . . the Religious Freedom bill.  That’s like the American Cattleman’s Association opposing cows.  I’m not sure these dear folks thought this one all the way through.

This is similar to our local so-called Citizens for Civil Rights whose behavior over the years demonstrates that they are really only concerned for the rights of themselves and their left-leaning friends.  It seems to me that these groups ought to be more transparent in the names they choose for their organizations.  How about “Freedom Just for Those in Indiana Who Agree with Us and Everyone Else Can Take a Hike” or “Citizens Concerned Only for the Civil Rights of the Cultural Liberals”?

Why is it that progressives seem hell-bent on imposing their brand of morality — or in many cases — immorality, on everyone else by force of governmental law?  Are they that insecure about the quality of their ideals?  Doesn’t civility require — even demand an approach to community life that seeks to balance the legitimate needs, desires, and rights of a variety of world and life views?

Good men and women of faith ought to be able to practice their religious beliefs in all spheres of life without incessant harassment from those who want to live differently.  For example, a Jewish family should be able to start a video production business and choose not to make movies for the wicked pornographer down the street.  An Amish man should be able to purchase a catering company and prefer not to provide food for the area swinger’s convention.  A Muslim woman should be able to buy a wedding hall and decide to only make it available for activities she believes are consistent with her beliefs about marriage.  It’s not like the progressives have no other places to make their movies, buy their food, or hold their celebrations.

Whether it is advisable for such persons of faith to practice their religion in these ways is beside the point.  Truthfully, if I was a Christian baker, I’d make my gay neighbor the best wedding cake I possibly could out of a desire to demonstrate the love and grace of Christ.  But there is a significant difference between living that way by personal choice versus living that way by governmental coercion.  The question here is how much value we place on the religious freedom of everyone in our state, even when we find such religious expression questionable or even objectionable.

Of course some will run to the tired accusation that this legislation promotes discrimination.  The challenge is — that door swings both ways.  You can either discriminate against the pornographer or discriminate against the religious person who prefers not to use his privately purchased equipment for such evil purposes.  How hard is that decision?

We saw this logical inconsistency several years ago during the public hearings regarding Faith West.  A spokesperson for the West Lafayette Human Relations Commission appeared at the final community meeting to express their views on our development and their expectations for our behavior.  This outrageous action was completely inconsistent with the group’s legal purpose and to my knowledge, is something the Human Relations Commission has never done before or since.  That is the essence of discrimination — treating someone differently or illegally based on an inherent or perceived difference, in our case–our religious beliefs.  The irony was too delicious for words — a spokesperson for the HR Commission discriminating against a church because of the unfounded concern that the church might discriminate against someone else.  I seriously considered reporting the Human Relations Commission, to itself.

What is needed in this conversation is balance — which as one wag observed — is that elusive point we all pass on the way to our next extreme.  I would encourage my friends at Freedom Indiana to reconsider your opposition to the Religious Freedom Bill.  If not, then could you at least change your name?

If you would like let your voice be heard on this issue, please contact your local legislator today.

Steve ViarsSteve Viars
Dr. Viars has served as a pastor and counselor at Faith since 1987. He is an author, national speaker, and Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Biblical Counseling Coalition.
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