Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Internet Debates: Religious Rights vs LGBT rights

Are you part of the same Internet world as I am, where there have been many very heated debates about all sorts of things recently.

 Well, that's not exactly anything very new, but it seems to have filled my Facebook news feed and blogs recently.

One of the big ones was the debate in the US over whether a business could choose to refuse service to customers based on their personal beliefs. Some small town pizza place said that in theory it would not cater a gay wedding because of their religious beliefs. And everyone went crazy. The owner said that 'he was immediately flooded by threatening phone calls, and social media postings. He said that  he would never deny service to gay people in his restaurant. However, due to his religious beliefs, he does not believe in gay marriage … and that’s why he wouldn’t service one.'

It sounded like there were two main groups of very loud voices:

1. Christians who were mad that they should be bullied into providing services for events they couldn't morally condone.
2. LGBT folk who were mad that the RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) was legalizing discrimination against them.

I'm not going to go into my opinions exactly, but here are a couple of articles that I thought were very thought-provoking:

Gay Woman Who Donated $20 to Christian-Owned Indiana Pizzeria Reveals Why She Took Bold Stand

“My girlfriend and I are small business owners... if we were asked to set up at an anti-gay marriage rally, I mean, we would have to decline.”

Three Very Small Thoughts About (the Debate Over) Indiana’s RFRA by Eve Tushnet

"Since that Christianity Today piece about attending gay weddings, I’ve thought about what the options are for people who can’t in good conscience attend a wedding. If I had a friend who was getting married in a way I really couldn’t attend, I think I’d ask questions like, “I honestly can’t do this, as a matter of faith, but could I come to your reception?” Or I’d try to come over beforehand and bring a gift. What can you support, in another person’s life? Could you offer to babysit their kids, or ask them to babysit yours? Could you encourage them to lean on you for help in every practical way you can offer? I don’t suggest these things because I think they would “work,” as a matter of PR or even witness, but because I think they would help “conscientious objectors” become, also, servants."

Interview With a Christian by Ross Douthat

"I think they should be able to decline service for various reasons, religious scruples included. A liberal printer shouldn’t be forced to print tracts for a right-wing cause. A Jewish deli shouldn’t be required to cater events for the Nation of Islam."

I can see why both sides are reacting with so much fear- one side is afraid that they are being forced to act against their conscience and that it is only going to get worse (you HAVE to celebrate gay marriages in your churches), and the other that they are once again facing rejection and discrimination and even hatred and that it's only going to get worse ('no gays allowed' signs on Christian and Muslim restaurants).

If only we chose to have this conversation with love and some empathy.

I liked Jason Evert's article: Love is Not Hate. If only more Christians allowed the call to love to govern the way they speak to and about people who struggle with SSA.

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