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.
  • Taylor

    I appreciate what you said about being a Christian baker. It is nice to know that you would extend this kindheartedness to your gay neighbors. That seems to show that you care about people, regardless of what the government says you are “allowed” to do. This also seems to be consistent with the Romans 12 suggestion, “If your enemy is hungry; feed him.”

    However, I would suggest the specific language in this bill is crucial. I would agree that allowing a photographer to turn down a gay wedding is within the bounds of religious freedom. However, allowing a courthouse worker the option to not officiate homosexual marriages seems to cross an important boundary. When you are in a public position, there is a certain amount of moral flexibility that should be required. Can a physician refuse to treat a man with HIV? Can a bank deny a loan to an unwed couple? Can an Emergency Room leave a birthing unwed mother out in the cold because they don’t agree with her lifestyle choices?

    • Steve

      Hi Taylor. Thank you for your thoughtful
      questions. All the illustrations I used were of people who owned their
      own businesses because that seems to be the focus of the current conversation
      at the state level. I also believe employers need to make every
      reasonable accommodation for the religious liberties of the people they choose
      to employ. That seemed to be the focus of the Supreme Court’s questioning
      yesterday in the Abercrombie and Fitch case. However, I agree that there
      may be times where a person’s religious convictions simply precludes him/her
      from holding certain types of jobs. That is why I argued for balance in
      my article. I wish you the the best.

  • Big Mama Douggie

    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.

    This is so beyond disturbing…. I do not even know where to start. HEY… I am a talented seamstress. Let me make that stripper the best shiniest thong and superstar pasties for her stage performance….to demonstrate the love of Christ. GEEZ…. I think I remember Jesus telling the prostitute in John 8 that she had to go and sin no more. Not… hey… I spared you from your stoning, now let me go fluff those pillows up for you and turn the sheets down, TO DEMONSTRATE MY LOVE, so you can get your groove back on.

    • Steve

      Well, that’s only part of the story. Jesus previously told
      all the men who were preparing to stone the woman that, “he who is without sin,
      cast the first stone.” The men all fled – and Jesus then told the woman
      because they did not condemn her, neither would He. Then he told her to go
      and sin no more. The point is – Christ demonstrated a beautiful balance
      in this passage between truth and grace. That is often what is required
      in decisions about how to relate to those around us who have chosen not to follow
      Christ. I think there is quite a difference in my illustration about baking
      and your illustration about sewing. Choosing well requires the wisdom of
      Solomon. Thanks for writing.

      • Big Mama Douggie

        How about the fluffing of pillows? I am quite aware of the story. This is why I sited it. The point is, Jesus told her to go and sin no more…GO and Sin No More. Baking the best cake ever to demonstrate grace and love of Christ sends a mixed message. UNLESS you plan on sharing the gospel with that soon to be married couple, your cake is just a cake. You shared in their sinful celebration and financially gained from it too…WILLINGLY. Here is where a lot of Christians get tripped up. All of these technicalities can lead some to believe that accepting their lifestyle choice demonstrates the love of Christ. We either stand for righteousness or not. We also need to be aware of when we are casting pearls in front of snouts too.. hence your wisdom comment. However, we need to draw the clear line four ourselves, our brothers and sisters in Christ, our children, and mostly… our GOD when it comes to setting ourselves apart. We cannot willingly help people in their sinful celebrations. You take part in their sin … 2 John reference. YES we are to show the love and grace of Christ. That goes in our example of peace in our lives and how we live and how the fruits of the Spirit are shown through us. Standing for our convictions shows the love and grace of Christ. ………………I want to point out that I did not miss the grand message of your piece here. I agree with you on how we need to vote. However, that one statement stood out to me and I had to comment.

      • Steve Viars

        Anyone who knows me or faith knows quite well that we take a biblical position on human sexuality and that we are all about proclaiming and living the gospel. The question you’re raising is the best way to accomplish that goal with someone with whom you disagree. For Faith — because our position is so well known — I don’t think our expression of grace would be perceived as an agreement about every choice the person was making. But I agree — it requires the wisdom of Solomon to know how to respond in situations like these.

      • Big Mama Douggie

        THANK YOU… long as the gospel was shared with the cake purchasing “couple.” I still think it wrong to make that cake and selling it to them knowing full well what it is going for. Refusing and telling them why, in love, as well as loving them enough to share the gospel is the direction recommended in our home. Willfully participating, directly or indirectly crosses a line.

      • Big Mama Douggie

        JEsus told the prostitute about to get stoned to GO! And Sin! No!
        More! He showed his love and grace by telling her… no matter who you
        once were… I will take you and love you and as a new creation in
        ME… go and sin no more. SIN NO MORE is the point. THAT is where the
        love and grace is. Praise GOD for that love and grace.