JIM CREES: Religious Freedom Restoration? Really??!!??

So here’s what I don’t understand.

When the governor of Indiana, Mike Pence, signs into law a bill that even tacitly opens the door for the officialized discrimination against the gay community, it is called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

What is it restoring? A lack of Freedom of Religion? Did, do, or could the people of Indiana not worship as they so please? Any religion they so desire?

How does giving a business or government entity the ability to withhold services to any person create a more open and all encompassing Religious Freedom?

Is allowing institutionalized discrimination a God-given right that needs to be restored in order to better fulfill religious freedom in this country?

Apparently so. But ... if a gay person decides to protest the legalized discrimination being leveled against him or her, with the state’s seal of approval, than that person is “militant” and infringing on someone’s rights. How does that work?

Former Arkansas governor and potential presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee says he is upset with businesses and corporations who have spoken out in protest of the anti-gay legislation (and yes, that’s what this thinly veiled law in Indiana is — anti-gay.)

He says the “militant gay community” is putting more of a squeeze on corporate America than the government is putting on Iran.

“The reason that those corporations put the pressure on Indiana and Arkansas was because the militant gay community put the pressure on them,” Huckabee said during an interview with CNN.

So, let me understand.

When a governmental entity such as the State of Indiana actively effects legislation that allows, if not promotes and even encourages the discrimination of a group of people because of a personal lifestyle - that is religious freedom.

But if the group of people who are being discriminated against by an act of legislation protest this discrimination, they are “militant.”

Is this not being just a touch duplicitous? And just for your information, dear reader, we in Michigan are not far away from being no less discriminatory than our neighbors to the south.

Back in mid-December, a bill sponsored by Speaker of the House Jase Bolger was approved in the House and sent on to the State Senate.

On Jan. 20, Sen. Mike Shirkey introduced Senate Bill No. 4 known as the “Michigan religious freedom restoration act.”

The Michigan version also was described as a bill to provide protections for people with sincerely held religious beliefs. Really?

What about people with sincerely held discriminatory beliefs that basically had nothing to do with religion whatsoever? Are sincere secular beliefs less legislation worthy than sincere religious beliefs?

But, back to the topic at hand ...so based on two Biblical references to same sex relations in the Bible, people with “sincerely held religious beliefs” should be able to discriminate and withhold services to gay people? OK.

Why then can I not withhold services to adulterers? There are a lot more of them than there are gay couples, and the Bible is pretty firm on what should be done with adulterers. And was it not Jesus who said, “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” - (Matthew 5:28).

Let’s consider for a moment the list of things that could drive me to withhold services based on a “sincere religious belief.”

Galatians 5:19–21 offers a good list: “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

So all of these ‘works of the flesh’ should be guidelines for my providing of services ... or not?

Proverbs says there are seven things which God hates: “...haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”

So if you ... um ...er ... stretch the truth at income tax time, should I not be allowed to withhold services because you are a “a false witness who breathes out lies ...?”

Why not? Are not all Biblical truths equal in truthiness?

If we’re talking homosexuality, why not talk gluttony?

Proverbs 23:20-21 warns, “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.” Proverbs 28:7 declares, “He who keeps the law is a discerning son, but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father.” Proverbs 23:2 proclaims, “Put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.”

There is a lot more said in regard to gluttony than there is about a gay lifestyle, but while being gay is worthy of government-approved discrimination, having no control at the local buffet table is not?

How does that work? That’s not what the Bible says. Should I not be able to refuse service to a person because they are fat? It’s a heck of a lot easier to discern someone guilty of gluttony than it is to sniff out someone who is gay. So ...we need to protect religious freedoms?

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I implore you ...the Indiana action, and the bill pending in Michigan, are nothing more than cheap ways to try and regulate one version of morality, and a limited version at that.

If we are serious about REALLY protecting ourselves from sinners as defined by the Bible, ain’t none of us going to be eating wedding cake or being provided with other services too soon.