Updated: Friday, February 28, 2014
From the New York Times:
In New Mexico, a photographer declined to take pictures of a lesbian couple's commitment ceremony. In Washington state, a florist would not provide flowers for a same-sex wedding. And in Colorado, a baker refused to make a cake for a party marking the wedding of two men.
In each case, the business owners cited their religious beliefs in declining to provide services celebrating same-sex relationships. And in each case, they were sued.
There is now a backlash spreading across the US in the form of, among other things, state legislation intended to protect people such as the photographers, florists, bakers, and others, such as those renting wedding halls, providing transportation, printing wedding materials, etc., (who based upon the free exercise of their sincerely held and ancient religious beliefs, object to homosexuality) from being legally forced to help same-sex couples celebrate their unions.
Currently, Arizona is in the spotlight. Kansas just had been. Arizona's legislative answer (SB 1062 [PDF]: "An Act Amending Sections 41-1493 and 41-1493.01, Arizona Revised Statutes; Relating to the Free Exercise of Religion") is being negatively criticized as, for one, being too sweeping. Some are going so far as to call it a license to burn homosexuals at the stake.
In Arizona, evangelical extremists may soon have legal cover to begin resorting to violence with impunity whether it is stoning unmarried mothers, gays, disobedient children, or burning suspected witches. If any American is skeptical it will never get that extreme, it is doubtless women in Salem Massachusetts thought they were safe from witch-hunts when they fled Europe only to find that like today, extremist Christians are everywhere and they are panting to exercise their religious liberty. [Source]
The same type who write that will turn around and pooh-pooh concerns that the legalization and "normalization" of homosexuality, including homosexual marriage, is the slippery slope to polygamy and more.
So, what's going on? Well, when any group becomes extreme and coercive, it can engender an opposite, extreme, and coercive reaction.
The Arizona legislation is a direct result of same-sex couples who rather than simply seeking out vendors and service suppliers who don't have a religious, typically principally Christian, aversion to same-sex marriage and unions, chose to push even further and to an extent that the Christians in the applicable cases were left feeling that their Christian beliefs on homosexuality were not being protected under the US Constitution's First Amendment that guarantees them free exercise of their beliefs and within reason.
They aren't asking to burn anyone at the stake. They're asking for a reasonable balance, not to be backed into Christian closets by those who were not so long ago asking to be let out of their closets while insisting that they would not be forcing their way of life on Christians (but are clearly doing that now even after so many Christians were exercising tolerance asked for by the homosexual movement).
Is there a limit to religious free exercise under the Constitution? Yes. Does it start before or after the claimed right of homosexuals to be served commercially just as people of various ethnicities? The issues there are whether homosexuality is a choice, whether the state has a compelling reason to control it, or whether homosexuality should trump the First Amendment.
My view is that homosexuality, if not entirely, is at least by and large a choice, that the state has many compelling reasons to control it, and that in no way should homosexuality trump the Free-Exercise Clause (which, by the way, is not solely about organized worship services on religious property).
What should Arizona and the various states do? They might work harder at language that narrows the scope of the legislation so that homosexuals cannot be precluded from the basic necessities of life.
For instance, it is doubtful that a Christian bakery would deny homosexuals buying baked goods that aren't created by that bakery to specifically cater to a homosexual marriage/union celebration. The issue with the bakery first mentioned above was celebrating a homosexual union, which no person can do while simultaneously acting in a Christian capacity. Celebrating a homosexual union is anti-Christian by definition, and no amount of appealing to adulterated scripture can alter that fact. The celebration aspect crossed a clear, bright line.
The question is how and where to draw the lines so that while probably not completely satisfying either side, both sides would at least still be able to function without nearly as much distress as has been taking place.
If a person or family owns an intimate bed and breakfast, he or they should not be forced to serve a homosexual couple who will engage in homosexual behaviors under the bed and breakfast's roof. A large, impersonal hotel is likely a different matter, though I don't hold with homosexuality under any circumstances.
Should a heterosexual and Christian (anti-homosexuality) woman advertising for two roommates or house mates for her apartment or house, as the case may be, be legally required to not discriminate on the basis of homosexuality or bi-sexuality or any other "orientation," fleeting or not? Is the secular movement bound and determined to force that woman to accept homosexuals into her house or accept no one, advertise for no roommates/house mates? Is that what the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution anticipates? I say absolutely and plainly no.
As far as I'm concerned, homosexuality is clearly a mental illness that brings damage to individuals, ripples through humanity, and is caused by personal and societal errors stemming back into prehistory.
I don't believe that the mentally ill should be put down like rabid animals as a matter of course. Frankly, I'm for nonviolence.
What we really need is an honest and open dialogue about the causes and how to fix things. Yes, I said fix, as in humanely preventing and curing the disease that isÂ homosexuality.
Male penises do not belong up male rectums (or any rectums for that matter). Doing it is sick. It is vile (morally reprehensible and physically, mentally, and spiritually unhealthy). If you have engaged in it, don't ever do it again. Don't ever advocate it or condone or tolerate it. Speak and stand against it, always. It's that simple. It doesn't matter whether lesbians don't do it. It doesn't matter that not all homosexual males do it or have done it. Stand against it. The rest of the good will naturally follow consistently. Everything else is wicked.
She vetoed it.
It wasn't well written.
The issue from our side is where to find any even mundane rationality from a secular government hellbent on defining religion as group worship services and nothing more and hellbent on completely ignoring any negatives inherent in homosexuality.
To the pro-homosexuality secularists in general, authentic Christianity is the enemy of enemies.
Above, you see where someone said that homosexuals and others need to fear being burned at the stake by people claiming to be Christians. Well, what about people who profess Jesus, know that burning people at the stake is anti-Christ, and do, and will, act accordingly?
If things keep going the way they have been, would it surprise any were Christians to die again in the flesh on the cross?
There's a great deal of venom out there.
"Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Christian religion?" I can hear it now. "Do you renounce Jesus?"
"Crucify him, crucify him."
Perhaps they'll go back to feeding Christians to hungry lions.
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Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
That said, we make the following absolutely clear here:
- The Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project not only do not endorse any candidate for any secular office, we say that Christianity forbids voting in such elections.
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- When we analyze or discuss what is termed "public policy," we do it entirely from a theological standpoint with an eye to educating professing Christians and those to whom we are openly always proselytizing to convert to authentic Christianity.
- It is impossible for us to fully evangelize and proselytize without directly discussing the pros and cons of public policy and the positions of secular-office holders, hence the unconstitutionality of the IRS code on the matter.
- We are not rich and wouldn't be looking for a fight regardless. What we cannot do is compromise our faith (which seeks to harm nobody, quite the contrary).
- We render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. We render unto God what is God's.
- When Caesar says to us that unless we shut up about the unrighteousness of Caesar's policies and practices, we will lose the ability of people who donate to us to declare their donations as deductions on their federal and state income-tax returns, we say to Caesar that we cannot shut up while exercising our religion in a very reasonable way.
- We consider the IRS code on this matter as deliberate economic duress (a form of coercion) and a direct attempt by the federal government to censor dissenting, free political and religious speech.
- It's not freedom of religion if they tax it.
And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)