Monday, February 21, 2011

Separating Church, State, and Hate

(The following is the text of an email I recently sent to the Kansas State judicial committee urging them to reject proposed HB 2260, which protects the right to actively discriminate against [anyone you want to] in hiring, housing, etc., if the discrimination is based on a religious belief. Ridiculous? Yes. But then, we ARE the state that outlawed evolution. I stay here because leaving would just tip the balance towards more unreasonableness.

Some of my friends, and even family, may not have heard me speak "Christian" like this before...don't worry, I still speak "world" most of the time...but sometimes it's nice to be bi-lingual. When in Rome....

I am happy to report that the bill was tabled today by a wide margin without any debate. Doubtless it or a successor will rear its ugly head again. But in light of other recent political activity across the nation, it's a little bit of a bright spot: good sense prevailed today in this vote.

I am posting this far and wide because perhaps some of the ideas may be helpful to my readers who may find themselves in dialogue with intolerant "Christians" over some or another aspect of legal rights: LGBT rights, women's reproductive rights, immigrant rights, etc.

These thoughts are much, much broader than just LGBT issues. In fact, for those of you who are not particularly pro-LGBT legal rights or pro-LGBT church inclusion, I urge you to reconsider, and perhaps to move towards a position just slightly to the supportive side of neutrality--a detached solidarity with any who struggle to avoid officially sanctioned marginalization/discrimination. If an arm of our government is successful in codifying the right to discriminate against one group, who knows what other groups might be targeted in the future?)

Dear Representative,

I am a modern conservative Anabaptist Christian. I spend hours a week studying the scriptures through the Light of the Holy Spirit, both independently and in the company of other Christians--radical, conservative, liberal, progressive, and fundamental members of a number of different denominations. I also value the time I spend discussing things of the spirit with atheists, pagans, agnostics, Buddhists, Hindus, Moslems, Jews, and others.

For those of us who accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the New Testament abolishes "The Law" of the Old Testament by fulfilling the OT prophecies. The old commandments of Moses are replaced by Jesus' new commandments: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself".

In the New Testament, both Jesus and Paul exhort Christians to humble submit to the laws of the State and its rulers. The New Testament does NOT tell Christians to seek to establish a State religion, nor to write State laws to support "Christian" beliefs and practices. It does not even tell Christians to campaign for the right to freely practice their religion! True Christians, now as in Jesus' time, live "in the world but not of the world." We deal with the world on the world's terms, even if it requires compromise and even if it results in suffering, knowing that our only real home and freedom will be in the company of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, after we have left this broken and sinful world. True Christians EXPECT and ACCEPT that "the world" will not support, encourage, or agree with our beliefs. Being human, we must necessarily stumble and fail in this effort at times...but we must never believe that our freedom and home is anywhere but Heaven.

As a part of a nation founded on the bedrock of religious freedom for ALL citizens, of any religious faith or of none, the State of Kansas has a constitutional duty to establish equitable and just laws to protect and support the well-being of its citizens--ALL of them--and to foster an orderly system of business, services, education, infrastructure, etc. without either favoring or discriminating against any particular group of citizens. The separation of church and state demands that such laws NOT be based on any religious considerations. Religion--any religion--is simply not supposed to be a consideration in the laws, enforcement or administration of our government.

After considering these simple truths about the purpose of Christianity and of our American system of government, I trust you will see that you have no choice but to reject HB 2260. It is as destructive to the faithful practice of true Christianity as it is to our constitutional rights as American citizens.

While your decision to dismiss HB 2260 must be entirely blind to the considerations of any particular faith, you will doubtless need to convey your decision to your constituents in terms that make sense to them. For those who are promoting this bill because they erroneously believe it supports Christian faith, you might remind them of the following Biblical truths:

  • Jesus himself did not discriminate against those who were marginalized by his culture; he hung out with and ministered to poor people, foreigners, outcasts, people with disabilities, slaves, women (who were considered "property" at that time) and sinners in preference to the middle and upper classes of his culture.
  • Jesus admonishes us to love our enemies, not to discriminate against them.
  • Jesus warns us not to judge (discriminate against) others; instead, we are to focus on the "log" in our own eye rather than the "mote" in someone else's.
  • Jesus tells his followers to "go the second mile" and thus obey Roman law which gave soldiers the legal right to order civilians to carry their loads. He not only tells them to obey the law however onerous, he tells them to MORE than give extra service without being ordered, even if doing so is personally distasteful.
  • Jesus instructs his followers to pay the taxes that are due to the government, even though the taxes are used in support of "worldly" activities and lifestyles that he asks his followers to forego.
  • Jesus instructs the rich to sell everything they have and give it to the poor.
  • If your "Christian" constituents supporting HB 2260 are not practicing these Biblical principles in their lives...if they have many possessions, are unloving towards particular individuals or groups of people; avoid socializing with the poor, different, and marginalized people; and are unwilling to obey State laws that they feel don't support their faith; then I think you can plainly see that these people are at best confused in their practice of the Christian faith. Probably it is not in the best interest of the broadly diverse citizenry of Kansas to establish laws demanded by those who are confused or misleading as to their true beliefs and purposes.

    I personally wish the best for all Kansans (and everyone else), regardless of their race, nationality, gender, creed, religion, handicap, age, sexual orientation or gender identity, or other individual characteristic. I am content that the Bill of Rights gives me the right to believe as I choose, and that Christ gives me the strength and humility to obey the laws of the world whether they suit me or not. I have utmost compassion for those who call themselves "Christian" yet give in to the evil of hatred, and I hope that it is not through personal tragedy that they discover their errors and repent. We all have fallen short and sinned in the sight of God. Thankfully, He is merciful.

    Blessings from

    Your obedient citizen,

    /s/ NL

    No comments:

    Post a Comment