Weekend Update 7/2/2016 – Neither free nor religious
I’ve got lots of errands to do today and a Camp NaNoWriMo project to get back to, but one story that made it into yesterday’s Friday Links definitely needs a follow up: Attorney General: People ‘duped’ by religious freedom law. So, late Thursday night a federal judge struck down Mississippi’s so-called religious freedom law. He ruled that the law actually establishes a state religion, by very specifically protected some religious beliefs and overriding the beliefs of those who feel differently.
Mississippi has only one state-wide Democratic politician, the Attorney General, and he issued a press release explains why his office isn’t sure it will appeal. The Attorney General’s office did defend the law against the challenge, but as he points out, appealing the law can cost a lot of money over a period of years:
“I will have to think long and hard about spending taxpayer money to appeal the case… An appeal could cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars. For example, North Carolina has set aside $500,000 for defense of its bathroom law. Even if we won and the injunction were set aside on appeal, the case would be remanded and proceed to trial over about two years. Because of the huge tax breaks handed out to big corporations by these same leaders, the state is throwing mentally ill patients out on the street. This is hardly protecting the least among us as Jesus directed.”
But he also essentially says that the judge ruled properly, because the law doesn’t actually protect religious freedom:
“The fact is that the churchgoing public was duped into believing that HB1523 protected religious freedoms. Our state leaders attempted to mislead pastors into believing that if this bill were not passed, they would have to preside over gay wedding ceremonies. No court case has ever said a pastor did not have discretion to refuse to marry any couple for any reason. I hate to see politicians continue to prey on people who pray, go to church, follow the law and help their fellow man.”
Because it’s Mississippi, you know that the only reason a Democrat got elected Attorney General is because he leans further to the right the most Democrats (I need to write a post about the fact that we don’t have a liberal party in this country; the Democrats are slightly right of center being more conservative that most the the population, and the Republicans are super-super-far-rightwing being more conservative that a substantial number of their loyal voters), and the only way he can talk about this law and have any hope of future electoral success is to emphasize his own Christian beliefs.
But that’s the point that needs to be hammered home: the laws and the issues that people are wailing and gnashing their teeth about under the label of religious freedom aren’t even consistent with the teachings of the religion they’re trying to defend. Not only do the laws not preserve freedom, but they’re contrary to the teachings of Christ:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
Jesus didn’t say, “If a same-sex couple asks you to do your job and issue them a marriage license, declare them unclean and turn them away,” he said “Give to the one who asks you.” And these folks who are proclaiming their belief in Jesus as the reason they refuse to sell cakes, or give out licenses, or allow a trans kid to use the bathroom, might want to review Matthew chapter 6, where Jesus says not to make a big show of your religion, and that the people who do that aren’t going to be going to heaven, but somewhere else…
ETA: As I’ve mentioned once or twice before, speaking as a former evangelical, btw: ‘Fessing up, part 2.