Gosh dang it you guys. I love Jesus so much, I love people so much, I love my family so much, I love my friends so much, and I love you all so much. I want to focus my time on loving people, but things like this get in the way, and I hate it.
Seriously you guys! I’m in my apartment sick with the flu, and I’m going crazy reading all of this stuff on Facebook! This is not a political post, and it’s not a religious post. It’s a post by an annoyed human who is tired of seeing his friends use Facebook as an abnormally large soapbox to share radically uninformed and divisive opinions. My mom saw a church sign the other day that said, “If you jump to conclusions, you may jump over facts.” And it seems to me that many of you are jumping over facts.
I’m sure very few of you have actually read the Indiana Senate Bill you are arguing about. You’re either praising conservative politicians for “restoring religious freedom” or chastising them for “discriminating against the LGBT community” and creating “modern Jim Crow Laws.” Ludicrous. It’s all ludicrous. The truth? You’re just a pawn in someone else’s political agenda, and people in expensive suits are probably sitting in their offices laughing at you. (To my Ohio friends, you probably aren’t too concerned with Indiana politics, but you are free to read along!)
Let’s talk about the “religious freedom bill” since you all insist on giving it so much attention. Actually, it’s not a bill. It’s a combination of two bills (SB 101 and SB 568). And as you know, they have received the nickname, “religious freedom bill.” Bill Clinton passed a very similar thing in 1993.
(Edit, 04/01/2015: This article was written before the bill was signed. So although SB 101 and SB 568 were both drafted, only SB 101 was actually signed into law.)
First things first, I suggest that you read the actual legislation before you continue reading this. Seriously, go do it right now.
“But where can I find the actual text in the bills? All I see are a bunch of news articles talking about how Indiana is legalizing discrimination. I don’t even know where to find the bills!” Very valid point. I thought the same thing, and I was annoyed too. But Google is amazing and awesome. I found them both online, and I read them. You can do it too; it’s only about six pages total. To view them, just click here and here. You might be surprised by what you find.
If for some reason, you just really trust my judgment on this matter, I guess you can continue reading this without clicking the links. But that would seem like a waste of time to me. I’d rather you actually read from valid sources than blindly trust another random person’s opinion, even if that random person is me.
What does this legislation say?
First of all, the two bills say nothing about homosexuality and nothing about discrimination—literally nothing. They also bring virtually nothing new to the table. I can summarize the bills in one sentence: “Nobody can be legally forced to violate their own religious beliefs unless the government deems necessary.” Hasn’t that always been the case? Essentially, the bill says that we usually have freedom of religious practice. (Why just usually? Because if someone went all “Hitler” and tried to exterminate a race based on “religious freedom,” we would all want that person to be prosecuted.) In other words, this is like the most vague legislation ever.
So what does this legislation mean?
Well, it actually means nothing. In SB 101 and SB 568, no religious freedom was actually “restored.” It was simply re-stated. This legislation is basically just “retweeting” the First Amendment. (I know, #TerribleTwitterReference.) But these documents do essentially nothing other than echo the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in a more confusing way and with a few extra stipulations.
Seriously, there’s nothing new here. Conservative politicians are using this to get conservative people fired up, and liberal politicians are using it to get liberal people fired up. That’s how politics work in this country. Everything is always focused around the few things politicians know they can get a ton of people to freak out about because I guess that’s the best way to get votes around here. It’s sad, but true, and it all just seems kind of dumb to me.
Long story short, this legislation changes nothing other than the political climate that you are currently allowing it to totally consume. I’m obviously not an expert in law, but I’m pretty good at reading. And I read the actual legislation before posting about it. And after reading these two bills, I’m more concerned with the fact that like half of the McDonalds restaurants in this country are getting rid of blue PowerAde. I mean seriously, what the heck is up with that?
Kudos to the following Indiana Representatives who refused to vote on such pointless and unnecessary legislation: Dvorak, Harris, Huston, Lehman, Porter, and Wolkins.
As an unrelated side note: If any restaurant owner or store owner refused to serve someone solely because of their sexual orientation, they wouldn’t just be breaking the law or making an unwise business decision; they would be disobeying the direct command of Christ to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus loved people, even when he knew they were murderers, liars, cheaters, adulterers, selfish people, lustful people, and angry people. He shared meals with those sinners. He didn’t have to condone their sin to love them. You and me are both sinners, and so is everybody else! And guess what: Jesus loves people who identify themselves as gay in the same exact way that he loves all other sinners. To me, this isn’t a new or revolutionary idea.
And as another unrelated side note: I don’t even return to stores where employees aren’t nice to me. Why in the world would you want to force someone to unwillingly do business with you, particularly perform a service like taking pictures of you at a wedding? Wouldn’t you want to have a friendly relationship with your wedding photographer anyway? I don’t know, just a thought.
I hope you’ve read this far. Please excuse my use of sarcasm; it’s been a while! Now that I’m finished writing this, I’ll spend the rest of my sick day resting, doing homework, planning a middle school church program, and talking to my girlfriend. God Bless you. And if you’re a Christian, please spend your time furthering God’s kingdom instead of dividing His people!
And now, I’ll hop off my soap box for the day.
Edit: This post went totally viral. Click here to read my response to the critics.
Click here to check out my previous post giving what I believe to be the Christian perspective on same sex marriage?
Or you could click here to check out my commentary immediately following the Ferguson shooting.