I don’t know about you, but I’ve been inundated with news in the last week or two about all the “religious liberty restoration acts” being passed in states around the U.S. The good news is that the overwhelming reaction has been censure. The best counter-act I’ve read about is that Wilco cancelled their planned May concert in Indiana. In the end, sanity, love, and reason are winning.
But I’ve read two different commentaries in the paper this week (David Brooks and Kathleen Parker) that carried a disturbing message. Both columnists made an argument that went something like this: “Of course discrimination is wrong. But people really should not be forced wholesale to do something that goes against their religious beliefs. And those who think they’re being discriminated against should just cool their jets and be patient. After all, gay couples can simply go to some other bakery to buy their wedding cakes for now. It will all get worked out in the end.”
BAD BAD BAD!!!!
Here’s why this argument absolutely does not hold water:
- No legitimate religion/denomination holds that discriminating against those with whom we disagree or those of whom we disapprove is an acceptable way to live.
- Any religious group that claims their rights are being trampled if forced to do business with LGBTQ people is living in a very ugly and now illegal past. About 50 years ago we finally settled the fact that businesses cannot decide which customers to serve based on a certain genetic trait that customer bears. Can’t do it, folks.
- Many of the power-wielding people in the U.S. used this “be patient, it will all work out in the end” line during the years of the civil rights movement. It’s SO easy to take that line when you’re not the one having to be patient while being told you’re not as good as everyone else.
- Take it to an extreme: Let’s just imagine that some religious group believes people who wear polyester/cotton blends (yes, there is an Old Testament law that prohibits the wearing of blended fabrics) are spawn of the devil who should be ostracized from their businesses and communities. No matter how deeply held this belief is, it is factually (not to mention morally) WRONG. Should the rest of our society be forced to allow these people to live out their beliefs? Anyone remember Nazi Germany?
Both Brooks and Parker worked to sound imminently reasonable in their columns. “Hey,” they were saying, “I believe in the rights of gay people. Just not if it’s bothering someone.”
It’s not reasonable. Sorry, guys.