Yesterday, the governor of Mississippi signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. A bill very similar to ones that tried to recently pass in Kansas and Arizona, that claims to be protecting the exercise of religious freedom. And while there was some problematic wording removed from the bill, it still could potentially be used to legalize discrimination against the LGBT community. A statement from Tony Perkins (President of the Family Research Council) ,who attended the signing in support of the bill, affirms about as much. To be honest, as much as I love the state in which is was born and grew up, I’m not really that surprised.
First let’s get some numbers out of the way. When compared to the rest of the country, Mississippi ranks 49th for rate of teen pregnancies, 50th for number of people below the poverty line, 47th in overall health, 49th for graduation rates, and 50th for infant mortality rate. So yes, please use valuable time and taxpayer money passing this law, when you clearly have no other issues at hand to deal with.
Secondly, I want to point out that a RFRA has already been passed at the federal level, way back in 1993. Also, Mississippi currently has no law on the books barring discrimination based on sexual orientation. It seems like there was really no need for this law. So let’s be real, this bill is anti-gay (possibly anti-non-Christian) legislation, cloaked in the guise of “religious freedom.” Rep. Andy Gipson said to his collegues, “It protects Christians in the state from discrimination.” And that’s the crux of it all. This idea that Christians are being discriminated against. I just want to ask, WHAT DISCRIMINATION? Because this honestly just feels like bragging rights. It feels like bullies who want to prove that they can keep bullying and face no repercussions.
But I want to present an alternate to all these ideas of “protection for Christians.” What happens if a Muslim store-owner decides that providing his service or product to a Christian violates his religious beliefs, and in turn, refuses to sell to or provide service to all Christians? Is this an outcome that you are willing to live with? Because the protections in this law aren’t limited to Christians. Are you willing to be discriminated against in order to protect your “right” to discriminate? It’s a never ending cycle.
That said, when we look at it plainly, none of these actions are very Christ-like. Jesus never refused to associate with someone because of their perceived “sins.” In fact, he was kind of known for associating with people that the religious elite deemed unforgivable. In the words of my sister, “He let a prostitute wash his feet with her hair!!” So when are we going to stop using religion as an excuse?
I guess the easiest way to put it is, when are we going to decide to stop being assholes and just treat each other like human beings?