the law recently passed in mississippi in the name of religious freedom is confounding. this law purports to make it legal for owners of businesses to refuse service to potential customers whose sexual orientation is objectionable because of religious conviction. the same law was considered in kansas and abandoned after an outcry from many citizens and business owners. it was not so long ago that the same folks who supported this mississippi law (or their parents) used religion as an excuse for refusing service to people of color, and there are still those who subscribe to the belief that one race is superior according to "god's plan" while all others are inferior.
some business in mississippi have begun displaying signs in their windows to indicate that everyone is welcome as customers, regardless of sexual orientation. at least one "christian" leader in the state has decried this practice on the grounds that it "discriminates" against his christians beliefs and the beliefs of others like him. how amazing that a sign proclaiming the intention to refuse to discriminate against anyone is attacked as discrimination against the narrow-minded!
one alabama politician has come to the conclusion that the first amendment's free speech mandate applies only to christians. his reasoning is that the pilgrims came to north america to seek the freedom to practice their christian beliefs according to their conscience and certain of the founding fathers spoke and wrote of our freedoms arising from a christian god, therefore when the first amendment was written and adopted it was never intended to apply to adherents of any religions other than judaism and christianity. he specifically singles out buddhism and islam as religions that are not protected by the first amendment.
yesterday the supreme court ruled that prayers that exclusively favor the christian religion could be voiced in meetings by legislative bodies. by this 5-4 vote, the majority justices made it permissible in the name of religious freedom to discriminate against the religious beliefs, or lack thereof, of all who were non-christians. this is a dangerous precedent and gives credence to views of many evangelicals that excluding those with whom they disagree is an acceptable practice in the united states.
may we see the need to honor the beliefs of others, recognizing that all of us have the right to speak and be treated with respect regardless of our political or religious positions. may we understand that when we operate business that are open to the public we have no right to choose whom we serve or to refuse service to those with whom we disagree on religion, politics, or any other matter. may we treat one another with lovingkindness. shalom.