The Bible has been in the news this Holy Week because social conservatives are promoting state laws to protect “religious freedom.”
Indiana’s Republican Gov. Mike Pence recently signed a bill, called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which critics said would have allowed businesses to discriminate against same-sex couples. The criticism was so intense that this week the Republican-controlled Indiana legislature quickly passed and Pence immediately signed a revised version of the law that he claimed would prevent discrimination.
Arkansas’s Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson refused to sign a bill this week, also called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, in response to intense criticism that it would also allow businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians. He then signed the bill after it was revised to be less controversial.
Florida’s Republican legislators are promoting HB 7111, called the Conscience Protection for Actions of Private Child-Placing Agencies, that would allow private adoption agencies to refuse to help same-sex couples to adopt based upon religious grounds.
These laws aren’t the first of their kind. Last year Arizona’s Republican-controlled legislature passed HB 1062, which critics said would have allowed businesses to discriminate against same-sex couples. The criticism was so intense that Republican Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed it.
These new “religious freedom” laws result from the realization by social conservatives that the legalization of same-sex marriage across the entire U.S. is very likely, and probably inevitable. They believe homosexuality is a sin because it says so in the Bible, so people should be allowed to treat homosexuals differently – as unrepentant sinners. (They conveniently ignore, however, that the Bible also approves of a lot of things that are considered immoral today.)
These religious zealots are often the same type of people that find no problem with listening to a charismatic preacher or a slick TV evangelist focus on a single sentence, phrase, or word from the Bible to interpret its “true” meaning – even though they say they believe the Bible is the literal word of God.
This cherry picking from the Bible is so popular that I decided to try it too, but without any interpretations. The excerpts I’ve listed below are from the small portions of the Bible that pertain directly to Jesus:
- “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
- “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”
- “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.”
On June 7, 2018, an Arizona appeals court upheld a Phoenix anti-discrimination law that makes it illegal for businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples because they believe that homosexuality is a sin. The Alliance Defending Freedom, which was identified as an anti-gay hate group in 2017 by the Southern Poverty Law Center, said it will appeal the decision to the state’s Supreme Court.