Last week, I reported about churches speaking out against House Bill 2433.
Known as the “religious freedom act,” the bill was aimed at keeping individuals, groups and businesses from being compelled to help with same-sex weddings, against their religious beliefs. I quoted Edith Guffey from the United Church of Christ who said, “As people of faith, I hope we are outraged about this bill and outraged that the House would use faith and religion as an excuse for being small-minded, fearful, homophobic and non-gracious.”
Some Christians are outraged by Guffey’s statements. God loves everyone, most agree, but He doesn’t condone sin. And they believe homosexuality is sin. It’s pretty clear if you read Romans 1:18-32, a reader commented.
Those favoring the law wonder if business owners have lost the right to follow their beliefs.
Federal law protects against discrimination based on sex, race, national origin or religion. Some states — Kansas is not one of them — have extended that protection to include lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people.
Christian bakers, florists and photographers in Oregon, Washington and Colorado have been sued or put out of business for refusing to cater to same-sex couples. In January, Todd Starnes wrote in an opinion piece for FoxNews.com that Christian businesses are being targeted for harassment by “militant homosexual bullies ... and they learned that in today’s America – gay rights trump religious rights.”
A Tribune reader said that if she went into a business wearing a cross and was asked to leave she would be offended, but she would leave, “knowing God was not welcomed there. I wouldn’t demand service, then sue, or go to the extreme and have a law brought about because they didn’t love my Lord and Savior, or agree with my beliefs. ... Jesus did nothing but love people and was crucified for it, so I can deal with being offended and rejected.”
The Kansas Catholic Conference, the conservative Kansas Family Policy Council and some GOP legislators have said they want a law protecting gay-marriage opponents’ religious liberties in place before the federal courts invalidate the state Constitution’s gay-marriage ban, the Associated Press reported. “There’s a concerted effort by people on the other side to discredit the very concept of religious freedom, and they want to do that by linking it to bigotry,” said Michael Schuttloffel, the Catholic Conference’s executive director.
I get it. There are Christians who believe homosexuality is a sin, and that marriage is only for a man and a woman. They resent being classified as “small-minded, homophobic, non-gracious.”
But Christians aren’t in consensus about the “clear teachings of the Bible.” Some have found new ways to read the ancient texts, but I think Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong is more honest when he says they simply aren’t meant for our time. Spong writes, “The tragedy is that church leaders back the wrong side of the conflict,” just as they did with slavery, women’s rights and other issues. Even now, conservative churches are busy urging countries in Africa to make homosexuality a crime. But Spong believes, “(this) too will pass and the debate on homosexuality will be just one more embarrassment in Christian history.”
Kansas laws, meanwhile, already do far more than reinforce a Christian’s right to refuse to make a wedding cake topped with two grooms. HB 2466 seemed to go well beyond that aim. Our laws should not sanction the right to treat certain people as second class citizens.
Susan Thacker is a reporter for the Great Bend Tribune. This is an opinion column. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.