There is one thing in this world that I do not think I will ever understand. I have been trying for years to get some explanation, logic, or insight on. I still have not. Why is our society still continuing to discriminate against one another?
I’ve never understood this concept.
Growing up, the most basic lesson that my parents taught me was “treat others as you would like to be treated.” Although as fundamental as this lesson is, it is apparently exceedingly difficult for others to follow – or maybe they were just never disciplined with this important life philosophy. To me, this quote says so many different things. I think that what it says to me the most is to respect other’s differences. Regardless of one’s beliefs, color, gender, sexual orientation, etc. I need to treat everyone as equal. This is such a simple concept to me.
A few days ago I caught wind of an Arizona bill – SB1062. When I heard what it was about, I truly thought this was a joke (click on the picture above for more information on the bill).
The bill passed Thursday in the Arizona’s House of Representatives by a vote of 33-27. The bill would business owners to refuse service to gay and lesbian customers under the condition that they proclaimed it was in line with their religious beliefs.
Although the bill must still be signed by Arizona’s governor Jan Brewer before it becomes a law (and that very will may not happen), the mere fact that this bill would even be considered really hits a nerve with me. The group propelling the bill, the Center for Arizona Policy – an organization which claims to “defend the foundational values of life, marriage and family, and religious liberties” (you can read more about the organization here).
What has happened to the separation of church and state? I think that this is something that has been lost that is causing tons of issues. I have my personal beliefs, you have yours, but we need not back public policy with religion. We should be focusing on making sure that each person is entitled to basic human rights.
Let me dissect the Center for Arizona Policy’s mission statement a little bit…
1. “defend the foundational values of life” – I really like this idea. Protecting the foundational values of life – to me that would include acceptance, tolerance, and kindness. I will also use some sources from what I would guess the Center for Arizona Policy is using to defending this bill – the Bible. So far I have not read anything in there about Jesus teaching us to persecute, judge, or act like we are better than others. What I have found of “foundational values” would be the following:
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. – Luke 6:25-37
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. – Philippians 2:3-4
But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink, for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. – Romans 12:20-21
OK, so far no luck in this bill fitting into religions beliefs (at least not Christianity).
2. “defend the foundational values of…marriage and family” Well this sounds like a really nice idea. Marriage values (I would presume) would include abiding by your vows. So what about the whole “til death do us part” thing and the skyrocketing rate of divorce in America. Arizona has one of the nation’s highest divorce rates. According to a recent study between 10.98 and 12.63 marriages are dissolved in the state per 1,000 people (see the study here). That’s interesting. The Bible also has some harsh things to say about divorce.
“I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith. – Malachi 2:16
I guess that I can only assume that this bill would also include divorcees among other things – as their religion does not permit it.
3. “defend…religious liberties” This too, seems like a great statement. But what exactly is a “liberty?” According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a liberty includes (but is not limited to):
“the quality or state of being free
the power to do as one pleases
the freedom from arbitrary or despotic control
the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges”
I’m not sure how this bill promotes, in any way, liberty. It seems to really go against pretty much all of these definitions of liberty – especially “the freedom from arbitrary or despotic control.” I guess you could see it as the business owner’s liberty’s being defended but isn’t this organization going for all liberties as a whole? Maybe not…it appears that they are just picking and choosing things that they want to apply to them. The Bible also has some selected words about religious liberties.
“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” – Romans 14:1-23
After digging deep and coming up empty handed, I am still struggling to figure out how this bill has anything to do with religious beliefs. To me this is just a group of adults being hateful, discriminatory and acting like bullies. It is grown men (mostly) and women acting as though they are in middle school. GROW UP. You are an elected official and there has got to be something more important to focus your time and attention on. Thankfullly the governor has not yet signed this into law. If she has any sense of common decency she will not sign it.
Instead of trying to pass idiotic prejudicial laws our lawmakers should be promoting kindness, helping out others in the community.
It is things like this that give religion a bad name.
***Here is a link showing how the legislative members voted for this bill
***Sign the petition to stop a similar bill in the state of Georgia here