we continue to hear that christians in the usa are being persecuted--deprived of religious liberty--as the debate about marriage equality continues to unfold after the supreme court's ruling that legalized same-sex marriage. the owners of a bakery in oregon have been found guilty of discriminating against a same-sex couple by refusing to bake a cake for their wedding. elected officials in some states have refused to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples. all of these "christians" have cited freedom of religion as grounds for their discriminatory practices and refusal to abide by the law of the land.
one wonders where this idea of discrimination masquerading as freedom of religion will lead. are "christian" officials who issue building permits going to refuse to issue permits to religious organizations that violate their private religious beliefs? will we see a "christian" official deny a building permit for a mosque on religious grounds? are those who make other bakery items going to ask if those baked goods will be served at a pre-nuptial party for a same-sex couple before they agree to sell their cookies or pastries? will "christian" manufacturers of cutlery stamp notices on their products that disallow their sale if they are going to be used by a same-sex couple? these are all examples of "participation" in same-sex marriages that flow from the "religious liberty" reasoning of the christian right.
baking a wedding cake is quite different from condoning same-sex marriage; a cake has no opinion, it has no religious beliefs. issuing a marriage license is not a sanction of a same-sex marriage; it is simply performing the duties that one agrees to perform when placed in a public office, usually by election. the act of issuing a marriage license has no imprimatur from the official issuing it. this "religious liberty" jargon is a form of "newspeak" in which the meaning of the phrase has nothing to do with liberty and everything to do with discrimination, a form of discrimination that is now illegal.
may we learn to accept the difference between private religious belief and public service, acknowledging that, when we open a business that serves the public, we have no right to deny service to some members of the public based on our relgious beliefs. may we insist that public officials obey the law they swore to serve when they accepted the responsibilities of their positions, rather than allowing them to hide behind a perverse definition of freedom of religion. may we act in love towards all those who may now claim the right to legally wed. shalom.