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« Links Mentioned on the 3/31/15 Show | Main | How RFRA Works »

April 01, 2015


What I'm confused about, on the principle level, is that can a business operated by a KKK member refuse to serve colored people because it is against their religion? Perhaps KKK is not a religious entity but the same principle applies if such a religion exists.

While I understand that, as you have stated, this discrimination has not been the case. It seems to open a Pandora box that allows businesses to refuse service based on their belief.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." If our God cause the sun to shine on the unjust, does it mean that He condones their unjust actions? In the same way I do not consider providing a service without discrimination is the same as condoning it.

Obviously there is a line. Daniel's friends refused to bow to the golden image. Had this been a case of forcing a doctor to perform an abortion I would agree that it is an excessive burden against one's religion - a direct violation of thou shall not murder. But providing a service in a gay wedding is not the same. The commandment is marry the opposite sex. But the florist is not marrying the same sex. He is not condoning the act. It is like providing flowers to a Buddhist funeral.

Anyways, I'm truly confused to what to think about this issue. Not trying to pick a fight. Please help.

Fu, the person would have to first pass the tests established by the law (see the McCormick article I linked to in the post). I'm planning to post something later in the day that will explain how this works. It doesn't make sense to say that it "seems to open up a Pandora's Box" when it hasn't done so for 20 years because of how the law works.

Secondly, this law would protect that doctor you mentioned, and there are already signs we're going to need that protection—not just for abortion, but also for euthanasia.

It's also important to note that the line you mention is exactly the one that is being crossed. It's not necessary for you to feel like planning a same-sex wedding or doing the photography is participating it. If the people involved think that it is participation, then this applies to them—it goes against their conscience. Of course, that doesn't automatically mean they win the case if they appeal to this law. They still have to pass the tests of the law (see the links above or my post later today).

I encourage you to go through the links I posted above, starting with my post on the Arizona law, to help you decide what you think about this.

I am confused by all of this. It seems that having certain religious beliefs makes a person a bigot, that doesn't make any sense.

Grace, including common grace, does not condone unrighteousness. It represents the staying--for a time--of God's judgment. His sending the rain is a manifestation of his beneficence. Similarly, our Lord's command to love, bless, do good, and pray are all manifestations of good. In what circumstances would it ever be wrong to do any of those things? On the other hand, are there circumstances in which a Christian's cooperation with or facilitation of the sinful activities of others would constitute sin for himself? Romans 14-15 certainly seems to teach this, that as a matter of individual conscience such actions may be sinful. Paul warned that not even the strong Christian has the right to coerce his weaker brother to do something against conscience.

Much depends on whether you think making flower arrangements or baking a wedding cake or taking photographs constitutes participation in the activity. If not, what is it that you're doing? Can you willingly and without coercion participate in something without condoning it? How far down the path do you go without getting into Romans 1:32 territory?

Eugene, it might be bigoted to refuse to do business with people in Indiana merely because of what they believe about religious freedom, or it might be bigoted to not buy chicken from Chick-fil-A because they think marriage is a man and a woman, but that isn't what people have asked for with RFRAs (if we're going to insist they're all about cases involving same-sex marriage—they aren't).

There's a difference between refusing to serve a person because of who he is or because of his beliefs, and refusing to participate in an event that promotes ideas that go against your deeply-held convictions.

Those who are boycotting Indiana in response to the RFRA, by refusing to interact economically with people they disagree with, are the only ones doing what they're protesting.

OK I read it. Thanks Amy! The hinge that differentiate this law from free discrimination is really the government "test" that acts as an arbitrator that determines the limits of the law. However I can see this being a problem in the future when either side disagrees with the ruling. The supreme court will have to rule on it in a not too distant future...

It already did! In the Hobby Lobby case. See Hobby Lobby Decision Summary and Hobby Lobby: Good News, Bad News, and a Warning.

Well said!! What it means for Christians is that we need to tolerate different worldviews without accepting them. Our freedom of speech should not be diminished (legally or practically) just because someone opposes our religious beliefs and the outworkings of that belief. It needs to be a two-way street!

Unfortunately the "progressives" want a one-way street where the signs point away from clear, Judeo-Christian principles.

It is not merely about discrimination. There are always other businesses to contract.This struggle is about the activists goal to make sodomitical behavior as sacred and honored as natural matrimony. We as Christians cannot tolerate the utter reversal of good and evil. Too many will be injured by such dangerous lies. We as Americans cannot tolerate our freedom being taken by crooked judges and wicked politicians. They will take every freedom necessary to shut us up and scare us stupid. We as human beings owe it to other human beings to do everything humanly possible to protect them from themselves and help them find the truth. Please buy yourself and your friends a copy of "Making Gay Okay" by Robert R. Reilly

Thanks Amy! The problem with having a court deciding what's one's religious right is self-evident. It will have to conform to some sort of society norm which vacillates in the current of contemporary culture.

Scripturally we have to resolve a few seemingly contradictory points: the dispensation of grace (God cause the sun to shine on the righteous and the unrighteous), obedience to authority (all authorities are given by God), when not to obey authority (as Daniel and his friends demonstrated), the conviction of one's conscience (1 Corinthian examples of meat eating). All these things converged and amalgamated.

What is your take and interpretation on what a Christian should do? Is there a scriptural answer or just everyman for themselves?

Fu, I wouldn't call all those contradictory as much as I would call them paradoxical. Rather than mutually exclusive, they should be regarded as opposing, but balancing concepts.

And we could probably say in this case that the scriptural answer would be, as you worded it, "every man for himself." In the context of issues lacking definitive clarity, we have Romans 14:5 - "...Let each be fully convinced in his own mind."

Fu, I'm not sure there's any one answer that covers every situation, but I will say this in general: I agree with Luther that to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Paul, also, stresses the importance of conscience and cautions us not to engage in anything we're not convinced about—that is, anything that we can't do to the glory of God ("Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind"). He even applies this to people who are refraining from doing things that, in reality, it's okay for them to do. Going against your conscience damages your conscience. It also means you're not "doing all for the glory of God" because you're not convinced what you're doing brings glory to God. This is why I'm strongly against forcing any person, regardless of his beliefs, to violate his conscience. RFRA is meant to respect this truth about human beings.

The way forward is Romans 12:2: "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." And the way you do this is to saturate—SATURATE—yourself in the Bible. Read it over, and over, and over. Let it shape you, change you, and teach you about who God is and what He loves. Let its wisdom form your mind, and then the thoughts that will come out of that mind will have a greater chance of being wise.

Will you make mistakes? Absolutely. But we rest in Christ, knowing that our sins our covered. So we can make decisions the best we can, knowing that we're already accepted by God and no mistake will change that.

Amen, thank you brother and sister for the edification!

Thank you for the conversation, Fu Chen!

By the way, I'm working my response to you into another post I'm working on. Look for it later today for more on this subject.

I do not like the wording of the law. It should be called the freedom of conscience restoration act. What would happen if someone like the late loud atheist Christopher Hitchens who by the way was pro life, were required to provide morning after pills to his employees? Obviously no religious affiliation but his conscience tells him it's wrong. Would he have a claim? The fact is no freedom of conscience, no freedom. The problem is deep of the years we have separated religious speech from speech and religious ideas from ideas. We are paying for this bifurcation.

Religious freedom and civil rights

Religious freedom and respecting of civil rights is a challenging issue but not insurmountable. Both are important and must be respected. It is important for each one of us to respect, to love and to honor all people while not compromising our conscience in matters of religious conviction.

The 1st Amendment of the U.S. supposedly guarantees that the Federal Government cannot establish a National religion AND that it cannot prohibit the people from the free exercise of their religion. The Constitution provides the framework for the freedom of religious expression unless the practice of that religion undermines the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

In 1990 the Supreme Court reduced the scope of religious freedom which is guaranteed under the Constitution of the U.S. (1st Amendment). In 1993, President Bill Clinton signed into law a return to religious liberty. This is a Federal Law. In 1997, the Supreme Court ruled that the Federal Religious Freedom Law could not be apply to State law. If States wanted these religious protections from government coercion they would have to pass their own religious freedom laws.

As of today, there are around twenty States that have such laws and a number of other States that have some kind of protection in place. From what I gather the Federal law and the various State's laws are essentially the same. However, the initial Indiana law had two major differences from the 1993 Federal law. According to Garrett Epps, in the Atlantic, March 30, 2015, there’s “nothing significant” about this law that differs from the federal one, and other state ones—except that it has been carefully written to make clear that 1) businesses can use it against 2) civil-rights suits brought by individuals.“. This created an uproar and I understand.

Here is the purpose of RFRA: Author Amy Hall states, “The point of RFRA is not to discriminate against gay Americans. It is supposed to prevent the government from discriminating against religious Americans.” These laws are to prevent state and local governments from infringing upon someone's religious beliefs without a compelling interest.

This is where religious freedom and civil rights can clash as witnessed recently in Indiana and other places. There is tension here. Can the government or an individual force me to go against my religious convictions or can I use my religious convictions as a means for racism and bigotry? NO!

The solution to this dilemma in honoring both religious conviction and a person's civil rights it to recognize there is a world of difference between serving an individual and supporting their event.
We are to respect and serve all people but that does not mean I need to support an event that is contrary to my religious convictions. For example, I am a pastor. I am not against anyone but try to show love and the love of Christ to all. I hold to the traditional time tested view of marriage between a man and a woman as defined by God in Genesis 2 and affirmed by Jesus in Matthew 19.

I have friends who have a different sexual orientation than I do. Do I reject them, judge them or deny serving them? Of course not! I enjoy them, serve and love them. But if they asked me to marry them in a same-sex marriage. I could not and would not. I would hope that as I have respected them as individuals, they would respect my religious conviction of not participating in their ceremony. And I hope that we would be able to remain friends. Here I stand.

What we are seeing today is Christians having their freedom of religion violated and being discriminated against by those demanding that Christians violate their beliefs and meet the demands of others when what others demand can be obtained elsewhere. There is no freedom of religion if a law demands an individual violate their religious beliefs to satisfy the demands of another. Why should a gay couple have a right to demand a particular bakery to bake them a cake when they can go to another baker? Such a demand is common sense ridiculous. It is also discrimination against Christians as the demanding party can easily go elsewhere for their cake or pizza. All members of our government take an oath to protect and defend our constitution and our freedoms protected by the constitution cannot be diluted or minimized by any individual for any reason. Any other conclusion would be Despotic. Our government should defend Christians religious rights and not discriminate against Christians by demanding they violate their religious beliefs.


The following was in response to the issue raised in Indiana regarding religious freedom:

There is no freedom of religion if a law demands an individual violate their religious beliefs to satisfy the demands of another.

Our Constitution is the supreme law of the land and no laws can be made by a state or the federal government that violate the laws set out in our constitution.
Our constitution prohibits all State and Federal governments from infringing the free exercise of religion.
Any law that demands that an individual do something that violates his religious belief is wrong
Our individual freedoms are protected by the constitution and those freedoms cannot be diluted or minimized by any anyone for any reason.
All employees of State and Federal governments take an oath to protect and defend our constitution.
If a conflict arises between individual rights the primary government interest is to protect and defend the constitutional religious rights above all others. Any other conclusion is prohibited by the Constitution and the oath of office taken by all government employees.

So why should a gay couple have a right to demand a particular bakery make them a cake when they can go to another baker? Common sense says such a demand is ridiculous. Our Constitution does not contain words such as “discrimination”, “social Justice” or “fairness” because they are too subjective. The issue is the Constitutional right of the free exercise of religion and not an activity that is described as “discriminatory’ or “unfair”, as that is nothing less than a bait and switch used by radicals to change the real issue. Even if something is “discriminatory”,(distinguishing favorable one thing from another) that fact does not rise to a level that would negate a constitutional right. Any other conclusion would despotic. Ray Eifler, Florida

I agree we need to find a common ground between RFRA and individual rights. What I am not confused about is Christ reaction and interaction with the Samaritan women at the well in John 4. Nor does his standing up for the Adulterous woman in John 8: 1-11. The RFRA would allow Jesus, if he had still been a carpenter, to refuse to serve them because their life style did not agree with his religious beliefs. I don't believe this is what Jesus has taught us! We can call one another Christian to task, but we are to love and forgive non Christians. RFRA could easily be used to support a Muslim business refusing to serve a Christian! Is this really the kind of law we want to support?

Rick, I think you've misunderstood what the law is, what it does, and what people are asking for. No Christian has asked not to serve someone because of his lifestyle, and if they did, RFRA would not cover that.

See the explainers linked above, How RFRA Works, and Refusing to Serve Individuals vs. Refusing to Participate in Events.

That said, I completely support the right of a Muslim business to refuse service to anyone they want to refuse (RFRAs, on the other hand, don't support that) because I think liberty—freedom of association, speech, and religion—is that important and that foundational to a free nation.

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