Discrimination is Against My Religion

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:36-40

I spent a long time trying to figure out how to make some funny take on Arkansas HB 1228 which would allow open discrimination against minority groups. Wine you can make fun of, regardless of how crazy. There is just nothing funny about discriminating against other humans.

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Discrimination is nothing new, and discrimination on the basis of religion is the most common vehicle to discriminate. In fact, modern movements to go beyond discriminating against others are a fraction of a second in the larger timeline of open discrimination against others. It is no surprise that some are trying to hold on with all they have, but they are wrong.

When you really examine discrimination, and lets not kid ourselves, this is discrimination, there is no good logical reason for it. In fact judging anyone by anything other than the content of their character is completely baffling.

I do not talk about this a lot, given the representation that people in similar situations give publicly I am embarrassed sometimes. I was one class short (that I electively chose not to take) of a major in biblical studies from Ouachita Baptist University. I am not the brightest theologian in the world, but I know a bit more than your average Sunday school participant.

I also try hard to never draw religion into an argument, but someone else started this argument. I can’t find a single reason a Christian on the basis of religion can say that open discrimination against anyone is right. In fact I would say that the central point of Jesus’ teachings is that discrimination is one of the worst things you can do. When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandments he listed only two, one was “Love your neighbor as yourself”, quote is above if you don’t believe me. Jesus said it not me.

I would go as far to say that discrimination is against my religion. And a group of Sunday School legislators can’t define my religion for me or for anyone else. 

If you are not religious, or just too blind to see the realities of this, we can look at this a different way. Money. That is what this about anyway isn’t it?

Arkansas will see the negative economic impact of this bill for generations. The obvious will be the businesses that decide to move their operations outside of the state. The real impact is the stigma of being branded as a state that allowed this to pass.

Businesses will turn down vendors and partnerships in Arkansas. Others will choose to locate or expand in other states. Highly qualified and talented individuals will decide to build their careers and use their skills in other places.

As Governor Hutchinson tries to make a major move toward computer science we see the CEO of the largest computer company in the world speaking out against the move.

As Little Rock is on the verge of gaining a post season football bowl game the NCAA is openly threatening a state who recently passed a similar law.

As we pass the idiotic laws in this state the country and the world is watching us slowly kill off our future.

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  • FattyFatBastard

    Not allowing people to marry each other isn’t discrimination. I don’t know why people view it this way. The Government should have never got into marriage in the first place. That was a blatant violation of the separation between Church and State. Since then, the Government has allowed idiotic Vegas weddings and annulments or divorces a day later. As the Government keeps trying to get into bed with religion, you can keep expecting blow back. Now, I personally, couldn’t care less about Gay weddings, but I understand the folks who still try to uphold the sanctity of a religious union; which is what Marriage ultimately is. The Government should call ALL taxable relationships “Civil Unions” and let the Churches decide what constitutes marriage. I see that as the only viable solution.

    • Velvetpage

      Marriage predates your religion by thousands of years. It was co-opted by religious institutions, not the other way around.

      I’d like to see a system like the one in France. There, you need two ceremonies: one at City Hall before a justice of the peace, and the other (if you want it) at the church. It’s not uncommon to see whole wedding parties troupe down the street from the first to the second.

      But religious people do not control marriage, nor have they ever. If you see your marriage as involving a religious component, that’s your choice, just as it’s mine to have no religious component at all.

      • Carl Grimes

        Velvetpage, in reply to your comments above, see below.
        1. “Marriage predates your religion”……a bold statement. What’s your proof text? For Bible believers it’s hard to predate God creating man and woman and proclaiming them immediately in unity and to be of one flesh and to go forth and multiply (something that is impossible for same sex “couples”).
        2. “Sometimes as a person of faith you are called to make sacrifices…..” Agreed but why should I/we have to sacrifice our faith on the altar of someone else’s “faith” statement? Apparently you believe you are a homosexual by nature but I’m not really sure because you may be bi-sexual according to other posts you have made. I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t force me to accept and affirm your apparent changing concept of who you are and what your true sexual nature is.
        3. “In a business setting, the regulation comes from the government…..” Agreed and that’s what this is about, the right of people to govern themselves. That’s what Indiana and Arkansas have done.
        By the way it’s disingenuous to compare race and the civil rights movement of the 1960’s with legislating sexual confusion that seems to change with the wind of partner preference and availability.
        4. “As for lifestyle: it’s not a lifestyle. It’s my life……” You are living your life by a choice, which you apparently changed from a previous episode when you were married to a man but now seem to prefer women…I’m really not sure. Again, live your life as you choose just don’t force me to set aside my religious faith to affirm your concept of sexuality. My rights are at least equal to yours, at least in most of today’s world and, thankfully, still here in Arkansas.
        In closing, if you don’t want to come to Arkansas then that is your choice. However, if you were to walk into our business you would find yourself welcomed by our staff and me with true Arkansas warmth and no requirement that you produce proof of your selected sexual identity of the day. Just don’t announce your sexual preference and expect me to necessarily affirm it. We may still do business with you but we’ll want to get everything in writing from you so that you don’t change your mind.

        • Velvet Page

          1) Do you think Adam and Eve were Christians? What about Abraham? How about the polygamist Isaac? Half of the Bible predates your religion, and most of it advocates different forms of marriage from what is practiced in modern developed nations. You don’t have to go too far back in history to find a time when asking the woman her opinion of the marriage was laughable, for example.

          2) Oh, you misunderstand. I’m not suggesting you give up your faith. I’m suggesting you give up your business, since the choice between running it legally and running it according to your religious beliefs seem to be in conflict with each other. If you can’t serve me because of your religious beliefs, then your religious beliefs are calling you to take yourself out of a position where you will be expected, by law, to serve me. By a similar token, if you feel yourself unable to prescribe medication that my doctor has determined I need, you shouldn’t be a pharmacist, and if you feel yourself unable to touch pork, you shouldn’t work at a meat-packing plant. In none of these cases is your religious freedom being violated – only your option to have it both ways. Why should I, who doesn’t share your beliefs, have to suffer for them? Your religion calls YOU to sacrifice. So, sacrifice. Sacrifice the business that feeds you and do something else. Live by your beliefs, by all means. Nobody is stopping you. We’re just stopping you from doing it at OUR expense instead of your own.

          I’m not really bi-sexual, though I’d rather not go into the details here. However, it doesn’t really matter if I am. What matters is that I get to choose the person I’m going to live with. You don’t get to force me into your mold, even if you seem to be under the misconception that bi-sexual means I’d be just as happy with men and therefore it wouldn’t be a problem to deny my love for a woman. Whether it’s a choice or not – for the most part, it’s not, because I had the choice between being miserable with my wonderful husband or being happy with my wonderful wife, and that’s not exactly an equal choice – the fact remains that I get to make it, just like you get the choice to end your marriage and marry someone else.

          In any case, you wouldn’t discriminate against me. You might discriminate against my rather butch friend, who looks much more gay than I do according to most stereotypes, but you’d be wrong – she’s married to a man. So on what basis would you choose who to serve? And how would you justify the fact that the femme lesbian who you don’t know is gay until she says so would get service from you, but the butch woman married to a man would not?

          I don’t need you to confirm my sexuality to me. Thanks anyway, but I’m good with it. I just need you to be prepared to serve any customer who walks through your door and wishes to hire you. That’s it. Again, if your faith calls upon you to challenge MY sin, but not the sin of the guy who bangs everything in a skirt every chance he gets, then you’re a hypocrite. Which sins are worth discriminating about?

        • Velvet Page

          Rereading your final paragraph, I think the real problem is with businesses that serve populations where sexuality can be easily determined. For example, if you’re a baker asked to bake a wedding cake and the order says the writing on the cake should read, “Happy Together, Betty and Sue,” they have not trumpeted their sexuality but the fact that they’re requesting your services makes it clear anyway. The same is true of anyone in the wedding industry, and potentially in the hospitality industry. The same would be true if I travelled with my wife – we’d be acting like any other couple (no “scare quotes” needed, thank you – that’s rude, since whether you like it or not, we ARE a couple) and people might figure it out without being told.

          I never had anything but warmth when I was in Arkansas. I’ve never met a friendlier group of people than my friends and their families, and I very much enjoyed my trip. That’s why I’m surprised and shocked that such a warm and welcoming group of people would think it was okay to tell me that I wasn’t going to get service from them because of who I love. The idea that my trip might be marred by someone telling me I wasn’t welcome in their place of business because I was clearly with a woman doesn’t exactly make it my destination of choice. Why would I take the chance that it would happen?

          • Carl Grimes

            Velvet Page: We’re getting a bit long here but at least it’s been civil for the most part. In order to try and keep some semblance of order to my response, I’ll refer to paragraphs as 1., 2.,3….how’s that?
            1. What does my being a Jesus follower have to do with this? I asked for a proof source from you that predates my conclusion that God created marriage. You threw a statement out without providing a source for context. Nevertheless, there is no predating creation, if you believe that, which I do.
            2. So, let me get this straight, I either have to give up my faith or my business so you can exercise your choice of sexual identity, right? Hardly seems reasonable that I should give up my religious rights so that you can have your sexual identity rights, especially since yours seems to be rather fluid and adaptable to the way you feel about yourself. I don’t want to have to give up my rights to yours. And for you to demand that I give up my business so you can exercise your sexual identity rights…..well, I don’t see the fairness or reasonableness in that.
            3. Of course it’s a choice. You’ve admitted that. You’ve chosen what you want and you will live with the consequences, same as me with my choices. Who you want to live with is your business, same as me. Just please don’t try to force me to accept homosexuality as a reasonable way to live life.
            4&5&6. Gracious, all this gender hopping and mate switching has me confused. Can’t tell the players without a scorecard and I’m not asking for one. Just be reasonable and don’t force me to affirm the bi or dual or whatever…..By the way, my belief system places adultery and fornication in the same category as homosexuality. I don’t check the adultery record of people who come into our business but then again, most of them probably wouldn’t be proud of their adultery and ask me to affirm it.
            7. It’s inconceivable to me that someone would want a law forcing people to violate their religious beliefs over the chosen sexual identity of someone else. If a baker won’t bake a cake for a homosexual couple, go get the cake somewhere else and tell all your friends about that horrible baker. That’s what I’d do if they didn’t want to bake a cake for a Christian themed, man-woman wedding.
            But, don’t try to use the law to force someone to do business with you when your so-called discrimination issue is not skin color or disability…it’s some nebulous sexual identity issue.
            In conclusion (and I really don’t have any more time to deal with this), I wish you the best in your life. I think you are making a mistake in leading the lifestyle you have chosen. But, it is yours to choose. Just don’t try to make me accept it as a normal, reasonable way to live.
            We can co-exist and let God sort it all out in the end.
            Please have the last word……
            Blessings,

          • Velvet Page

            1) The fact is, the marriages in the early part of the Bible bear no resemblance whatsoever to the marriage you have, or any other modern western marriage. They were arranged by parents, most were polygamous, the women were expected to be faithful but the men were not, women could be put aside if they did not bear children, and men who had no property didn’t get to marry at all for the most part. Latching onto the gender thing ignores all the other differences involved in pre-modern marriage. Marriage was primarily about property and survival of the group via children. Those things are no longer necessarily true, and we don’t try to claim that they are. We claim marriage is about love. It never used to be; that’s a very modern invention. We have already redefined marriage since Bible days, in fact many times.

            2) You don’t have to give up your business to affirm anything. You just have to decide that my life choices are none of your business, and agree to serve those whom the law decrees that you should serve. If you insist on putting your religion ahead of the law, that is your choice, but it comes with a cost, and I shouldn’t have to pay it. It’s your choice, you pay the cost of it. If I remember correctly from my Christian youth (I’m a pastor’s daughter – more on that in a moment) that’s called taking up your cross to follow Christ. It’s supposed to be hard. It’s absolutely not supposed to be fair. You’re supposed to do it anyway. Since I am not a Christian, I shouldn’t be bearing the burden of your faith.

            3) My life has been pretty simple, actually. I was a good little Christian girl. I married a man from my church, a wonderful man who was my best friend and remains a very good friend. I didn’t know why I didn’t enjoy being with him – why there was no chemistry between us. How would I know? Everyone around me told me that homosexuality was a choice, and I was clearly straight because I’d married a man (a tautology if ever I heard one.) We had two children while I was figuring it out. I don’t regret it – my daughters are wonderful people – but I regret the hurt and pain that were caused by me taking so long to figure it out. I finally figured it out by falling head over heels in love with someone else. That’s it. Two people. Not so hard, right? My husband and I are happily going our separate ways, amicably co-parenting our kids, and he’s with someone who can make him happier than I ever could, so that’s great. In the process of all this self-discovery (not change – if I’d known in high school what I know now, I never would have married him to begin with) the Christians in my life were the least supportive and the least loving. The person who repudiated me did it in the name of Christ, and it was my father. You call it calling someone on their sin. I call it breaking their hearts.

            I am who I am. I was always like this. All that’s changed is that I’ve figured it out, and I’m not willing to make two people (myself and my husband) permanently unhappy when we can each find happiness with other people and still love and care for our kids. I’m happier and healthier than I’ve ever been, so I don’t need your pity over my “lifestyle.” I’m a normal woman – nice house, good job, good education, normal relations with those members of my family who didn’t repudiate me, nice spouse with a nice professional job, the works. I just won’t be spending any of my money at any point in the future giving you the chance to legally discriminate against me by doing something horrible like trying to spend money in your business with my wife.

          • VelvetPage… First off, my daughter is gay. I love and respect her. I want to dance at her wedding someday. And if she happens to marry a nice Jewish girl who runs a bakery, I would hope that her wife would be allowed to refuse to make a “happy birthday Hitler” cake. The bill itself is good, even if half of the people who will take advantage of it are assholes.

          • Velvetpage

            I’m pretty sure you would already be allowed to discriminate on grounds like that. This bill is about allowing people to discriminate on PROTECTED grounds, like sexual orientation, race, religion, and so on. The reason Georgia tabled a similar bill was because the Democrats wanted to put a rider on it stating that discrimination on PROTECTED grounds would still not be allowed. The Republicans sponsoring the bill said that that would make the bill worthless, i.e. the whole purpose of the bill was to be able to discriminate against people that the law has said you are not allowed to discriminate against.

        • You’re assuming VelvetPage is homosexual. You’re also assuming he or she is non christian. I’m straight, white, and Christian. And it’s not my place to tell others what they can and can’t do with their own bodies or the bodies of consenting others. There are churches which already accept homosexual marriage. Velvet Page can be married by one of them. Your church should never have to. From what I’ve noticed, churches have a history of turning away or alienating those that are “unfit.” Aren’t you glad Jesus did that, too? Oh… Wait… Maybe that’s not how it goes.

          • Carl Grimes

            Bryce, thanks for your input. Jesus loves us all but he also didn’t allow sin to go unaddressed. He loved people too much to do that.
            Blessings, Brother.

          • Velvetpage

            I don’t live in Arkansas, though I have friends there, one of whom linked to this blog, which is how I came to it. I live in Canada, where gay marriage has been legal for a decade now. Some churches perform those weddings and some don’t. Nobody is forced to, just like Catholic churches have never been forced to perform weddings for people who had been previously divorced. For some strange reason, society hasn’t imploded and no divine retribution has rained down on us. Funny, that.

  • Carl Grimes

    This is more than just about the definition of marriage. In other states folks are being sued and losing their businesses and personal property under anti-discrimination laws for exercising their religious beliefs that homosexuality is sinful. They feel they cannot honestly do business with someone who is asking them to endorse what they consider to be sin. The militant homosexual crowd is hell bent on forcing sexual preference to a dominant legal position over religious beliefs. Why can’t folks who accept homosexuality as a lifestyle just find folks who agree with them and do business with them and leave the others to do business and live out their beliefs with folks who agree with them?
    By the way, the scripture used to justify the position taken by Greg Henderson is not being interpreted in light of the weight of New Testament teaching. Jesus always confronted sin and challenged those committing it. The Bible clearly condemns homosexual acts just as it does lying, adultery, gluttony……..Loving your neighbor as yourself means loving them enough to challenge bad behavior, not just accepting unhealthy, sinful behavior because someone else calls it “discrimination.”
    One of my dearest friends had homosexual tendencies and when he died I was at his bedside. He didn’t ask me to endorse homosexual acts. He asked me to hold him accountable and I did the same for him in my areas of sin.
    That’s loving your neighbor as yourself…..caring enough to confront sin in each other’s lives, not just calling it discrimination and accepting it.

    • Velvetpage

      Sometimes, as a person of faith, you are called to make sacrifices for that faith. An observant Jew may decide that they can’t ever take a retail job that will have them working from Friday at sundown until Saturday at sundown – which is most retail jobs. If that’s what their religious observance leads them to do, then more power to them. But they do not get to demand that someone else not do business on their Sabbath. Similarly, any Jew or Muslim who got a job in the meat-packing plant and then asked never to have to deal with pork products would find themselves out of a job, and rightly so. If you can’t do what your job requires of you, then you shouldn’t have that job.

      In a business setting, the regulation comes from the government, which provides the infrastructure that helps you do business, the education for your employees and customers, the regulations that make sure your building and roads and electrical and plumbing are all up to date and safe – I could go on. You can’t operate a business without getting benefits from the government. In return, you have a really simple duty: serve the people who come to you for service. If you can’t meet that requirement, then you don’t get to operate a business. We had this conversation already, in the sixties.

      As for lifestyle: it’s not a lifestyle. It’s my life. I tried being straight. I was miserable and so was my husband. We’re both happier now, and our relationships have absolutely nothing to do with you, except in one thing: I won’t be visiting my friends in Arkansas as long as that law is on the books. I don’t want you to serve me, thinking that I’m straight (I present as straight; you wouldn’t know unless I told you that I wasn’t) only to find out that you would have discriminated against me if you’d known the truth.

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Discrimination is Against My Religion