Musings of a Recovering Lutheran: Laws protect some...
O LORD, God of my salvation,
         I have cried out day and night before You.
Let my prayer come before You;
         Incline Your ear to my cry. 

Psalm 88:1-2 (NKJV)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Laws protect some...

..but not others. That is the only conclusion that a reasonable person can reach concerning the recent decisions by the state of Colorado forcing Christian bakers to provide services for gay/lesbian weddings while allowing other bakers to refuse service to someone who wants Bible verses put on cakes:

In a bizarre new twist on the religious liberty front, Colorado officials have determined that bakeries must cater to proponents of gay marriage but are not legally obliged to decorate cakes with Bible verses.

Christian activist Bill Jack has denounced a decision by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Regulatory Agencies, which found Azucar Bakery in Denver not guilty of discrimination for refusing to bake a cake adorned with Bible quotes condemning sodomy.

It should perhaps not be surprising that a government bureaucracy with a windy, Orwellian-sounding name like "Civil Rights Division of the Department of Regulatory Agencies" should reach an Orwellian decision like this one. Compare that decision with previous decisions handed down by the state of Colorado:

Colorado prosecuted Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop for bringing his Christian faith to bear in his decision not to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, yet business owners who decide to refuse service to a Christian wanting Bible verses on cakes are exonerated by the state.

In 2012, a homosexual couple sued Phillips after he refused to make a cake to celebrate their marriage. An administrative law judge ruled against him, and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission agreed.

In December, 2013, Judge Robert N. Spencer handed down his decision that the “undisputed facts” show that Phillips “discriminated against complainants because of their sexual orientation by refusing to sell them a wedding cake for their same-sex marriage.”

The idea of "equality before the law", which was once a cornerstone of the modern progressive movement, seems to be gone, since there doesn't appear to be any consistent application of so-called anti-discrimination laws in these cases. Instead, we are faced with a situation where one group has both the muscle and the will to force its religious views on everyone else. Political leaders and journalists who should be resisting this drift into fascism are either silent or openly complicit (witness the recent hysteria about Indiana's now-gutted religious freedom law and the ugly campaign against a small Indiana pizza place whose owners dared to express a politically incorrect opinion).

There is an old saying that when all you have is a hammer every problem looks like a nail. Many modern secular progressives rely heavily on their numerical superiority in the media and academia to force compliance on a larger population that does not necessarily want or need change. They view secular progressivism as right (which is not really the problem here), but they also believe all other points of view are so morally and intellectually defective that they are worthy of punishment rather than debate (which is the problem). Because of this stark black/white worldview many secular progressives see coercion rather that persuasion as the only way to engage others politically. Why take the long, hard road of actually winning debates against those who are obviously wrong when you can haul "homophobes" and "racists" into court and charge them with thoughtcrime? Why allow opposing points of view to flourish and possibly "contaminate" others when they can be blocked and punished? It is ironic that many secular progressives have become what they claim Christians are: narrow-minded and intolerant bigots afraid of dissent and willing to use the powers of government to enforce belief in a state-approved religion.

What are Christians to make of all of this? Sadly, some will approve of this bullying and favoritism since they prize "social justice" above all else. They see government abuse of power as a tool in achieving a just society, although how a society can be made more just by using injustice remains unexplained. Tolerance and religious pluralism are out the window, and the only thing that matters is political victory.

But for other Christians, I think there is the opposite temptation to despair or (worse) engage in retaliation. It is important to remember Jesus' words that His Kingdom is not of this world. We can only proclaim the coming of the Kingdom, not bring it about ourselves, and especially not by by using the unjust tactics of our adversaries. This will require faith that God is in control, and that in the end He will triumph. Jesus never promised that we would have easy lives, only that He would never abandon us.

Now would be a good time to pray for our country.

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