By now you must have heard about Indiana’s new RFRA law, but if you listen to the media’s portrayal, you probably think it has to do with discriminating against homosexuals. But of course, it really has nothing to do with discrimination, and everything to do with protecting our religious freedom. Joe Carter has a helpful post that summarizes What You Should Know About Religious Freedom Restoration Acts. If you want the quick version, check out this helpful visual. Even some, like Stephen Prothero and Douglas Laycock, who support same-sex marriage argue that that the law is not about discrimination but religious freedom. In Laycock’s words:
The critical fact with respect to all the hysteria over Indiana is this: No one has ever won an exemption from a discrimination law under a RFRA standard. Few have tried, and none have won. There is absolutely no basis in experience for the charge that these laws are a license to discriminate.
Despite having nothing to do with discrimination, many called for boycotting the state of Indiana. Aaron Earls points out that If You Are Boycotting Indiana, Here’s Where Else You Need to Boycott – including many other states with similar laws, our country with a similar federal law, and many other nations with much less friendly attitudes toward homosexuality. But as Earls points out again, the laws really have nothing to do with homosexuality, and everything to do with religious freedom. So boycotting Indiana really means one is opposing religious freedom.
And one wonders if that isn’t, after all, the point. How do we explain all the freaking out over this law that we have recently witnessed? Did the media and many political leaders, business leaders, entertainment leaders, and sports leaders simply act out of total ignorance of what the law says (raising serious questions of their competence)? Or is there a growing opposition to religious freedom that the law seeks to protect?
Albert Mohler points to recent editorials in both The Washington Post and The New York Times that seek to redefine religious liberty, desire to give the government the right to infringe on religious liberty, or simply demand that religions bow “to the enlightenments of modernity.”
Meanwhile Russell Moore writes:
Many of those leading the discussion of religious freedom have little or no understanding of what motivates religious people…. If one cannot empathize with why defying conscience on a matter of religious exercise is a life-or-death concern, then one is free to impute all sorts of evil motives…. This is particularly problematic when widespread ignorance of religious motivation is joined with a zealotry that can only be called religious: for the stamping out of all dissent against the sexual revolution.
In our culture’s headlong rush toward so called “same-sex marriage,” it seems that many are willing to steamroll right over religious freedom. Indeed, Frank Turek argues that “Same-Sex Marriage” Is Becoming the Established Religion. He writes:
Forget tolerance. This is well beyond tolerance. Now, if you don’t agree to celebrate same sex marriage, the established religion will commence an inquisition and, without a trial, punish you for heresy. That’s why this legislation is necessary.
So how should the church respond?
First, the church needs to stand firm on the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality and the definition of marriage no matter how unpopular it may be. We are not in a popularity contest, and we seek to please God, not men.
Second, the church needs to continue to fight for religious freedom. We need to make our case in the public square for the freedom to believe, and to practice what we believe.
Third, the church needs to look past this looming issue, and continue to do what the church is always called to do – love God with all of our being and love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus said the world would know we are Christians by our love. We need to counter our culture’s impression of hate with the true practice of daily love – even toward those who oppose us.
Finally, the church needs to remember what we celebrated only a few days ago. Our Savior is risen. He ascended into heaven and reigns at the right hand of the Father. We need not freak out. The sky is not falling. Our God is still on the throne.