OPINION: Hiding behind legal protection doesn’t further kingdom of heaven

Editor-in-Chief Jared Huhta discusses the controversial religious freedom restoration act. He explains why Christians shouldn't use the law to not serve same-sex couples.

Jared Huhta (Photo provided)
Jared Huhta (Photo provided)

Remember Governor Mike Pence? He visited the campus last semester to encourage university students and leadership. We even had the pleasure of taking a “selfie” with him.

But recently he discouraged people from visiting Indiana because of a historic “religious freedom” law. The law basically protects individuals from the government infringing upon their religious rights.

Opponents say it allows religious businesses to refuse services to same-sex couples – legal discrimination, if you will. Tim Cook and Hillary Clinton are among national figures that have publicly disapproved of the law.

As a 22-year-old, politically confused, born-again Christian, I am extremely perplexed by the necessity of this law. Why do Christian businesses need legal protection in case they do not want to serve same-sex couples?

Shouldn’t they want to serve these couples?

Ignore the fact that business is business – whether you are Christian or not. A business is out to make money, and I can’t really see a Christian business owner refusing revenue from a customer.

But if a Christian business does ignore a same-sex couple because they violate their religious beliefs, doesn’t this also violate Christ’s beliefs?

Ignoring same-sex couples is hateful, ignorant and Pharisee-esque – whether you are in public, at church or in a business. In Indiana, it is unfortunately a little easier to do so. But instead of businesses deciding who is worthy of their services, Christian entrepreneurs should open their doors to all people – gay, straight, rich, poor, cash-only or card-only.

They have a unique opportunity to share Christ with their customers. After all, everyone in America is a consumer, and the people popping in a Christian store might never set foot in a church. Refusing people a service is refusing their basic human rights and does nothing to further the kingdom of Heaven – even if it is legal in the Crossroads of America.

Christ loved and served everyone and commands us to do the same – not hide behind a legal wall of protection, deciding who is clean and unclean or worthy of the same products as every other Hoosier.

Jared Huhta is a senior history education major. He can be reached at huhtaj@huntington.edu. This column reflects the views of the writer only.

3 comments on “OPINION: Hiding behind legal protection doesn’t further kingdom of heaven

  1. Brad Barber

    I explained in another article why this law, and others, are actually good for citizens. You can read that here: http://www.dailyillini.com/opinion/columns/article_f55b0d0e-a25c-11e3-9556-0017a43b2370.html

    I agree with Jared that most Christians should not use this law to turn away people just because they are sinners — phrased that way, then the owner should turn away everyone because we are all sinners. It is not our place to judge the sins of man, or enact judgment upon them by treating them another way.

    However, although we should not treat people differently because of the sin they practice, this does not mean that we should aide them in sinning. If you believe that the action the sinner asks you to do is helping them sin (i.e. renting a hotel room for an unmarried couple to use for sex), then you should have the right to deny them this service. Ex: a doctor should have the right to deny performing an abortion, regardless of his training in the matter, becuase he believes that performing the abortion would be sinning/aiding a sin. Without this law, IN could require all doctors to perform abortion.

    Rights are denied when we grant this religious freedom. However, this is OK because it is better to deny someone a service than to damn someone for eternity by their own standards. No rights are absolute, so when the right to manifest your religion (which is Constitutional) and human rights (which are not) clash, you must pick which one is going to be limited in that case. Due to the Constitutional status of the former, it will almost always win — which is essentially what this law codifies. The reason for the law is that some judges believe that the human right should be superior, so this law corrects them. As Justice Scalia said (in Hobby Lobby), we should not force people to choose between enjoying the privileges of every other citizen (i.e. running a business, making money) and condemning himself by his own religion’s laws.

    Opponents of the law fundamentally misunderstand it — they believe that it will allow sandwich shops to establish a sexual preference checkpoint at the establishment’s doors. This is not the case — if it is, that owner’s religion would be the most hypocritical religion on Earth, and this hypocracy would not allow it to invoke this law’s protection in Court (most likely). Proponents see it for what it is: a protection from the government forcing people to sin or take part in a sin themselves.


  2. Kris Burgess

    Government opponents to gay marriage are not different from the proponents of Jim Crow. Brad, your previous article mentions that the Jim Crow example was used to try and scare people away from supporting “religious liberty.” The example is being given because it is the same logic being applied to a different issue, LGBT marriage rights instead of interracial marriage or other civil rights that were being fought for at the time.

    “Religious liberty” or “religious freedom” sound great as ideas, but the phrases are being used to allow statutory homophobia, much like “tough on crime” has been used to allow statutory racism. These phrases give pundits, candidates, legislators, etc., the freedom to be bigots in plain view while maintaining plausible deniability of their bigotry. Opponents do not necessarily believe that the new law will allow for “discrimination checkpoints,” but have problems with the law’s allowance of discrimination. Proponents say that the law does not allow discrimination. This is not true, because the law allows for an affirmative defense to discrimination claims, which is de facto legalized discrimination.

    There is no fundamental misunderstanding; the statute allows an affirmative defense, for private parties, including the private corporate kind, against claims of discrimination by other private parties. This affirmative defense must be grounded in a strongly held religious belief, which sadly still includes: “being gay (engaging in homosexual acts, etc.) is a sin.” Two things about how absurd this is: 1) the logic is identical to what was used to support interracial marriage bans; and 2) Jesus never once mentions homosexuality being a sin. It is tragic that Indiana is willing to hurt itself by dying upon a hill that is eroding away more rapidly every year: homophobia. It is even more tragic that Christians are not leading the charge for equal treatment of all persons, which is what Christ would do, according to scripture at least.

    Your argument: “however, although we should not treat people differently because of the sin they practice, this does not mean that we should aide them in sinning.” Under this logic, we should not give water to a thirsty “sinner,” which anyone could qualify as, because the water would help them stay alive, which would in turn “aide them in sinning.” We should let sinners die of thirst so they do not sin? This is outrageous and also is the logical conclusion of your argument. Under your logic, and if you believe certain interpretations of the Bible, Christians should never be bartenders, bar owners, legal cannabis retailers in Colorado/Washington/etc., fast-food-restaurant owners, etc. (drunkenness, being under the influence of another substance, or gluttony). These sins are as prevalent in the Bible as homosexuality, yet no one is running a political campaign trying to shut down Chick-fil-A for assisting with obesity. I could go on about the hypocrisy.

    From your previous article: “The legislative intent is not to allow for refusal of service in everyday business, but in providing service that would violate a religious belief.” This is the same thing. This law allows for a refusal of service in everyday business, if that refusal is based on strongly held religious beliefs. This is discrimination. Your argument mimics those that were used to support segregation, there is you cannot avoid this. The only difference now is that the issue deals with LGBT individuals, not African Americans or other non-white races.

    A side issue, I find it incredibly hypocritical that proponents of the free-market are only for government regulation of business when it involves protecting discriminatory operations. Yes, pure capitalists would do away with the 14th Amendment and the Civil Rights act because it infringes upon free-market principles, I get that. However, how can a free-market-advocate argue for more government regulation? I would like to see your explanation of this. But again, this is a side issue.

    The essence of most opponents’ stances, from my understanding, is that gay marriage is not going to infringe upon any single person’s, or some company’s, religious freedom. It is not going to diminish the value of any couple’s marriage. Yes, it will allow for another demographic of American adults to get the same rights as most American adults, but this has nothing to do with religion, only civil rights. The essential stance of this law’s opponents will hopefully win out, because it is the both the most pro-human, pro-American, and pro-Christian (not in any particular order of importance) stance in the current discussion.


  3. Jason Boothman

    Keep in mind that though this articule, and many of the discussions on the internet, are centered around the same-sex agenda, that isn’t purely what this bill is about.

    Case in point: I used to run a freelance web design business. At one point and time I was approached to create an adult website for someone – something that, with my beliefs I am not comfortable with – at all. I turned the job down and the person was, thankfully, very understanding, but with todays judicial system, had he wanted to, I’m sure he probably could have taken me to court for discrimination.

    My understanding is this law would protect me from that very thing. In this case I don’t think anyone would have an issue with using the law in such a way. Could it potentially be abused? Yes – most can. But lets not pigeon-hole it into such a small box that we forget what the law is actually about.


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