Tag Archives: religious liberty

Beyond Holy Week

While I was on my spring blogging break, I checked the feed during Holy Week to discover the internet was in shambles.  

window bride

window bride

Lines were drawn in the sands across America. The days leading up to Easter saw pundits throw off their gloves to strangle each other in hand-to-hand combat. Facebook profiles hemorrhaged red equal signs matched by a flow of crosses. Twitter burned with the carnage of our civil discourse about gay marriage.

People ridiculed the Bible and took cheap shots at my faith. Folks in some religious circles seemed to suggest Christians just sit this one out. Political strategists advocated surrender, declaring the issue a lost cause in a zero-sum game. Do we want to be right or win elections? 

Scant little was said about how we might address the actual issue: Can we as a nation find a way to extend legal protections to long-term, monogamous gay couples while at the same time protect the religious liberty of those whose faith prohibits homosexuality? I could have missed it, but I haven’t heard much from either side about an equal-but-different, civil-union-type solution.

Maybe we don’t want a solution as much as we want a fight and a Supreme Court verdict like Roe v. Wade. Forty years later, we all know how well that settled the abortion debate.

My sweet father-in-law served two terms as a county commissioner. During his first campaign in 2000, we discussed Roe v. Wade. He expressed to me the frustration of pro-life Christians who felt blindsided by the 1973 Supreme Court ruling. “It happened,” he said, “and we did nothing.”

I naively thought this marked his generation’s legacy with silence and inaction. After Holy Week this year, I think I understand a little more of how he feels.

Proponents of gay marriage think they’re right and that this is a question of equality. If you express a different opinion, you’re labeled a bigot. On the other hand, many Christians think gay marriage is a threat to First Amendment freedoms and that this as a question of religious liberty. If our federal government “redefines” marriage to legally include both heterosexual and homosexual relationships, where does that leave the church? Where does that leave religious schools and institutions?

Will there be exceptions? Or will the state cross the line and require all churches to perform same-sex marriages, hire homosexual staff, and censor the first chapter of Romans or face prosecution for discrimination and hate crimes? Think it could never happen? Private sector examples like Hobby Lobby, Sweet Cakes Bakery, and Arlene’s Flowers show how eagerly religious liberty is being challenged. Is this too a zero-sum game?

The tidal wave of little equal signs and crosses on Facebook and the tumult of mainstream media bias during Holy Week chilled the dialogue of regular citizens. This debate has instilled fear in people to voice their convictions.

But bullying the opposition into silence isn’t progress.

rick warren quote

image from Pure Purpose on Facebook

Some of us are straight. Some of us are gay. All of us defy GodWe’re all guilty; that’s why we’re all in need of Christ. No one is in a position to condemn. But what does it say about my faith if I’m scared silent to speak what I believe?

EstherShadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and Daniel are in the Bible for a reason. So is the account of Jesus before Pilate. There is Truth that stands alone and isn’t relative to our whims, preferences, culture, courts, or circumstances. 

flag in Reagan National

flag in Reagan National

I disagree with the idea that engaging in the political process and conversation means you’ve traded faith in Christ for faith in government. God has blessed American believers the gifts of freedom of speech and religion, among the many other gifts of our Constitution. We are called to be good stewards of those gifts as much as we are called to be good stewards of all the resources God has given us. Use it or lose it.

No one enjoys being the object of ridicule, spite, and retaliation. We hope bullying doesn’t happen and we answer it with grace as best we can when it does. Christ promised that people would hate Christians the same way they hated Him. In all this, God is sovereign; His plans will be accomplished.

Americans may never unanimously agree on social issues like gay marriage and abortion. But I hold out hope we can find ways to live alongside each other in peace, with respect for our different beliefs, and under the protection of our Constitution. 

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” retorted Pilate. John 18:36-38 NIV

How are you processing the events of Holy Week?

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Reader’s Choice ’12: Standing Up for Chick-fil-A

Pam Thompson knows timing is everything.

Pam Thompson

Pam Thompson

The mother of six children (six!), Pam’s blog is understandably called It’s Time for More Coffee! Pam makes every second count.

You may recall the battle boiling back in the sweltering heat of July. Gay rights activists sniped at Chick-fil-A’s founding family for personal contributions they made to organizations that support the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman. The activists’ irritation with the Cathy family had been building for years. Last July it reached a fevered pitch.

BlogHer published an op-ed from a woman who was boycotting Chick-fil-A and the Boy Scouts. I watched for the rebuttal post. I waited and waited to see the other side of the story. When no alternative response came, I pitched BlogHer my own.

First published here as Why I Will Eat Mor Chikin, BlogHer accepted my story and syndicated it the week of the BlogHer Conference in New York, vaulting the post to my most-read story this year.

The BlogHer audience came unglued with its publication. Many readers dialogued with civility, but many did not. I received hateful comments and tweets from strangers. More importantly, I received messages of support and solidarity from strangers, too. People were reading, relating, agreeing, and praying. One message of courage came from a pastor in North Dakota whom I’d never met. Soon I connected with his wife online. She is Pam Thompson.

Timing is everything, and everything belongs to God.

Pam’s Reader’s Choice is:

Standing Up for Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A cow at family event

click to read Standing Up for Chick-fil-A on BlogHer

readers choice

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Why I Will Eat Mor Chikin

Syndicated on BlogHer.com

This post was syndicated by BlogHer on July 30, 2012.

The ruckus over Chick-fil-A raises the question: Who’s behaving like the hater here?

Chick-fil-A president and chief operating officer Dan Cathy’s recent comments in Baptist Press should come as no surprise. The company is privately owned. In 45 years of existence, their restaurants have never been open on Sundays. They’ve always supported a traditional, Biblical definition of marriage and family.

Chick-fil-A drive thru

drive thru

“We intend to stay the course,” said Cathy in the article. “We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

So, let’s see. They haven’t changed their religious views. They aren’t refusing to serve people who disagree. We’re free to express our beliefs in this country.

Why the uproar now?

Chick-fil-A’s charitable donations were being criticized before the Baptist Press published their story. When Cathy reiterated his long-held convictions, in a religious publication mind you, Chick-fil-A critics were poised to pounce.

Cathy was labeled homophobic. Activists boycotted. Boston’s mayor banned Chick-fil-A from the cityThe Jim Henson Company broke ties with them.

Another commentator wants public schools and sports facilities to stop doing business with Chick-fil-A because they support families through non-profit groups that share their beliefs. Are you kidding me?

Attacking a successful company is unlikely to change anyone’s mind. It won’t help the economy either. Plus it’s mean.

My affection for J Crew clothing is well-documented in this blog. The company contributes to causes at odds with my values. Last year J Crew president and creative director Jenna Lyons left her husband of nine years and the father of her son for another woman. Not a decision that lines up with my faith.

I suppose I could stop buying clothes from J Crew, write nasty grams on their Facebook page, insist they be thrown out of malls that have received tax breaks, and start picketing their stores.

But that would just make me a bully who’s missing out on some mighty fine fashion, now wouldn’t it?

Chick-fil-A cow at family event

family night meet-and-greet the cow

Chick-fil-A uses their resources to support and care for families in ways they see fit. That includes contributing to non-profits that share their beliefs.

Speaking from experience, that also includes family activity nights at their restaurants, refreshing beverages for free, and politely carrying trays to tables for mothers like me who have their hands full. Besides, the food is delicious.

I don’t hate gay people. I don’t believe the Cathy family and their franchisees hate gay people. I don’t plan to stop eating at Chick-fil-A anytime soon. I understand if your convictions differ. You can stop eating there if you want.

You’ll be missing out on some mighty fine chicken if you do.

But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord. from Joshua 24:15 NLT

The Chick-fil-A Song by St. Louis comedian Tim Hawkins with a new verse for Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy.

Will you eat mor chikin? (Please mind your manners or your comment will be deleted.)

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