If you usually read my blog because it’s based on running and fitness, be warned that today it isn’t. At times I just need to write about what’s on my mind at the time, and this is definitely one of those times. This week, Indiana’s leaders, including Governor Pence, signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Bill. Let me start by saying I am a Christian. I was raised in the Christian church from birth. I have a strong faith, live a good life, and try very hard to live my life as Christ would want (those who know me know I have a long way to go!). I also have a daughter who is gay. I’ll get to that later.
This week, I am completely dismayed that our representatives can disregard their constituents, and sign a bill that allows discrimination against homosexuals. Here is the legal language of the bill:
Religious freedom restoration. Prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless the governmental entity can demonstrate that the burden: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest. Provides a procedure for remedying a violation. Specifies that the religious freedom law applies to the implementation or application of a law regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity or official is a party to a proceeding implementing or applying the law. Prohibits an applicant, employee, or former employee from pursuing certain causes of action against a private employer.
The leaders have said it’s misunderstood: ” they say it’s supposed to be a standard for the courts in cases involving religious freedom.” Bullshit. It allows a business to deny service to someone based on sexual orientation because it’s against the owner’s religion, and the government cannot burden that exercise of religion. Seriously. It’s 2015 and our state just took us back to the 1950s. The leaders have said the bill is just like federal legislation put into action by Bill Clinton. Bullshit. That bill was signed to allow women to wear religious garb in the workplace and Jewish men to wear yamakas without fear of consequences. The intent of these bills is not the same. One was created so that someone isn’t discriminated against, the other allows discrimination without consequences from the government. If that wasn’t Indiana’s intent, perhaps they should have worded it differently. When the entire country believes it encourages discrimination, there’s a problem, Governor Pence.
Multi-million dollar companies have threatened to pull out of Indiana; the NCAA has issues with bringing their athletes to Indiana; people on Twitter have said they will no longer spend their money in Indiana. This law does nothing positive for our state. It makes all of us look like a bunch of unacccepting rednecks. It is going to hurt our economy. And it hurts people. Real, honest, hardworking, contributing members of our communities. George Takei called for a boycott of our state. They are boycotting our state, Governor Pence. I think your hopes for a presidential run just went down the drain along with your integrity.
Christians. As I said, I am one of you. My faith has carried me through many wonderful highs and devastating lows in life. I’ve studied the Bible, and spent hours and hours in Sunday School and church. In none of my Christian education or reading did I learn that it’s okay to turn anyone away. Jesus – whom Christians are supposed to follow – denied service to no one…NO ONE! He spent time with Mary Magdalene, the prostitute; he loved her. He went to have dinner with Zacheus. We sang about it, dammit. The wee little man? Why don’t you remember? Jesus spent his time with ‘sinners’ and outcasts. He showed love to everyone. Saying you can’t serve someone because it goes against your Christian religion goes directly against the teachings of Christ. Will you also refuse to serve the following?
- Divorced and remarried people? The Bible says they are adulterers. A big no-no.
- Men and women who had sex before marriage? Sin. It clearly goes against Biblical teaching (there goes your business).
- Those who use God’s name in vain? Heck, that’s even a commandment.
- People who covet their friends’ big homes or luxury vacations? Lots of jealous people out there.
- People who work on Sunday, not keeping the Sabbath holy? Are you open on Sunday?
- Women who cut their hair or wear make-up? According to the Bible, that’s a sin.
- People who drink or eat too much? Over-indulgence in food and drink…SIN.
Why do so many Christians choose which ‘sins’ are important? Who do they think they are? The Bible, above all, commands us to love. That’s it. Love. If you disagree with homosexuality, fine. But please know it isn’t a choice. Why would my then 16 year old daughter come to me to tell me she is gay if it were her choice? Why would she put herself out there to face the scorn and judgment of others? No kid wants to be different and be the target of bullies. I am heterosexual – always have been. I couldn’t make myself desire other women if my life depended on it. If I wanted to rebel against my parents or society, I still couldn’t just ‘decide’ to be gay one day. Could you? I got a text from a great friend who is also upset about this new law. She texted, ‘I am straight and the last time I checked, I can’t remember the moment when I ‘chose’ to be straight.’ We have no more control over our sexuality than we do the color of our skin. But it’s illegal to refuse service to people of different ethnicities, isn’t it?
My beautiful daughter is one of the best people I know. She is a senior, preparing for graduation and college. She is in the top 10 in her class, president of the National Honor Society, a golf and tennis player, drama club member, band member, and the list goes on and on. She is kind to everyone, willing to help others, and she’s gay. That’s a small part of the amazing person she is, yet someone could refuse to serve her because her ‘gayness’ goes against his or her religion? Someone could hurt her so deeply because our government won’t ‘burden his or her exercise of religion’? How is that following the Bible? How is that following in Christ’s footsteps? As her mother, it breaks my heart to think that this is even possible.
The implications of this new law will continue to embarrass Hoosiers. I have yet to see one positive aspect of signing this bill. I, despite having been raised Republican, have always stayed out of politics because I despise the double talk, but we have to stand up and be counted. And when the leaders of our state disregard our wishes, we have to fight harder. In a couple of weeks, the anger over this bill will die down, but we can’t let it go. Social media is powerful; use it. Email your representatives. Let fellow Americans know that we are not all bigots. Most of us welcome and encourage diversity. Most of us are loving and friendly. Our governor? Not so much. He had his own agenda, and cares nothing about what he is doing to our state. He is narrow-minded and uninformed. He is not representative of a Hoosier.