Monday, March 30, 2015

It Is Not Christian To Hate, Indiana

Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.
- 1 John 2:9

My personal experience with Indiana is fleeting.  I drove through the state on a road trip to Chicago ages ago.  All I can say is that was the flattest piece of land I had ever seen in my life.  And I've driven through the Everglades on a regular basis, which is basically sawgrass as far as the eye can see.

I dunno if the flat unending bland landscape does something to the mindset of the locals, because I can't think of many other excuses that the state's residents can offer to explain how they elected a bunch of self-satisfied haters to run their government.

This is a historical thing.  People may well remember that Indiana was one of the major Union states of the Civil War and fought to end slavery and all that, but they need to remember that Indiana was one of the most redneck-y haters-gonna-hate state north of the Ohio River.  When the Klu Klux Klan, dear God, became a massive political movement that threatened to run its own candidate for the White House back in the 1920s, Indiana was the state with the largest membership at 250,000 men.  That was three out of ten white guys.

This is a historical debacle.  Indiana just passed and signed into law a bill that allows, in some ways encourages, private businesses to discriminate people even on the supposition those people are gay/lesbian.  There's actually laws similar to this one on the books in other states and even in the federal code, but as Garrett Epps points out at The Atlantic none of them do this:

...That becomes clear when you read and compare those tedious state statutes.  If you do that, you will find that the Indiana statute has two features the federal RFRA—and most state RFRAs—do not. First, the Indiana law explicitly allows any for-profit business to assert a right to “the free exercise of religion.” The federal RFRA doesn’t contain such language, and neither does any of the state RFRAs except South Carolina’s; in fact, Louisiana and Pennsylvania, explicitly exclude for-profit businesses from the protection of their RFRAs.
The new Indiana statute also contains this odd language: “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...”  Neither the federal RFRA, nor 18 of the 19 state statutes cited by the Post, says anything like this...
...Of all the state “religious freedom” laws I have read, this new statute hints most strongly that it is there to be used as a means of excluding gays and same-sex couples from accessing employment, housing, and public accommodations on the same terms as other people. True, there is no actual language that says, All businesses wishing to discriminate in employment, housing, and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation, please check this “religious objection” box. But, as Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk...”
The governor who signed this, Mike Pence, has spent the past few days trying to defend this law.  He keeps saying that the law is about "protecting religious liberty," but when asked about whether the law discriminates, or asked if it's wrong to discriminate, he avoids giving a straight answer.

It's telling that this "great and wonderful and Christian law" for religious liberty had to be signed behind closed doors and with only a handful of religious leaders - some of them known for their rabid brand of hate - rather than a broad range of church pastors and fellowships.  That's probably because a lot of the larger Christian denominations - PresbyteriansEpiscopalians and most Lutheran churches in particular - support gay rights.  And a lot of other Christian churches such as the Methodists may oppose homosexuality on principle due to Leviticus and other books, but they refuse to make it a public stance to openly discriminate.

The thing is: this law does not protect religious freedom at all.  It has nothing to do with ensuring our churches stay open, it has nothing to do with protecting people who gather in public to pray, it has nothing to do with making sure that God remains in Heaven while the flock tend to their affairs within the world.

It has everything to do with letting haters use religion as a weapon to hurt others.  It has everything to do with twisting the words of love and forgiveness from Christ himself to justify rash and reckless judgment of others.  It has everything to do with those few so-called Christians who want to persecute and punish a very small minority group in the name of other Christians who do not want to hate at all.

And Indiana just keeps its historical reputation as a Hater state continue on.

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