“A Large Pizza, Please, With Extra Stones”

I have been very quiet these last few weeks on my blog. I suppose it’s because I have been preoccupied with watching all of the news sites and trying to understand case law regarding the “religious freedom” bills floating around out there.

Depending on where you are in your journey with finding out about your spouse being out of the closet or in denial, these happenings might not interest you or they hit too close to home. For me, it has been nearly a decade since my ex’s Big Reveal, so I am currently on a path of fighting against LGBTQ discrimination. Why? Because after researching the heck out of this stuff to the best of my ability, and knowing the thoughts of fundamentalist Christians since I used to be one, I am incensed by what is happening in our country.

If you would like to understand further why I would be an Ally in light of my husband coming out of the closet, I best explained it in the Huffington Post with my article The Real Learning Channel. Take a look at it if you want.

If you choose to read further, please know that this is not a typical post for this blog. But since I need to vent, it is the best outlet I have.

First, let me state some facts from my point of view.

1) These Religious Freedom Resoration Acts (RFRA) that are being adopted by states are not unusual. The federal government passed such a thing in the 90’s, and many states have since used them verbatim for their own state.

2) The ones that are so contentious (like the one that caused the uproar in Indiana) are NOT worded the same as the federal and state RFRA’s that have passed. The issue at hand is how they changed the language. The biggest change, among some others, is that they define “person” to include a for-profit business or corporation, with religious rights. This follows on the heels of the recent Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case, which granted corporations the same religious rights as individuals.

3) In turn, because now a “person” can choose to deny a citizen of the United States services due to religious beliefs, like PIZZA, they have the potential legal right to do so.

4) The problem here, with these reworded RFRA’s, is that specific groups are not protected from discrimination in their state (unless it has been adopted by a county or city within that state). This applies specifically to sexual orientation or gender identity. Many states have adopted these groups as protected against discrimination in their numeration laws (like race, gender or age). But as you can see below, many more states have avoided adding LGBTQ to their numeration list.

5) So, if a “person” claims for religious reasons that they cannot serve someone who is LGBTQ, then there is no recourse to sue and be backed up by the laws of that state.

Can you see the problem here? Simply using “religious belief” gives a “person” (for-profit business) the legal right to discriminate.

The smarmy thing, in my opinion, is the groups and law makers who are pushing this are people who do not approve of a gay “lifestyle” (read: it is a choice). In essence, they are using religion to be able to legally discriminate against anyone they claim they don’t agree with. They are saying that their religious freedoms are being stomped on because gay people are getting married, being served in restaurants, seeking housing, looking for employment, and hoping for benefits from their employer (either for themselves or for their partner).

Now, tell me how you would feel if you were being discriminated against in these same ways because you have been divorced, had sex before you were married or even committed adultery yourself? Or, take anything else that the Bible says is sinful, and they have a reason to discriminate, especially if they are really being consistent about their religious beliefs.

But no. They are taking one thing, homosexuality, and making it the litmus test for being able to get away with discrimination. For those people who are saying that the law (like in Indiana) is not meant for that, you can find a plethora of quotes and backgrounds from the very people who proposed, supported and passed this law…and their views about LGBTQ people. The timing alone for Indiana, who was denied the right to have a same-sex marriage ban, is enough to show you what their true intent was. Other states are following.

If you know anything about Scripture, there is very little said regarding homosexuality. Jesus never said anything about it himself, and that certainly should have credence with Christians. Jesus did say all kinds of things about judging others, loving others, following him, giving unto Ceasar, and making disciples of others.

None of what He said falls in line with denying tax paying citizens anything that everyone else can have, simply because they are “sinners.” In fact, He talks about turning the other cheek, helping non-believers, and serving others as He himself served…by dying for them.

So, now we get back to why I am so adament about fighting these crazy things going on in our government and society.

1) Our country was not founded on religion, and made dang sure in the Constitution that no law should be made forcing another person’s beliefs to stamp out the Constitutional rights of another human being. Unfortunately, if those who see homosexuality as a sin and think they can deny basic rights as guaranteed under our secular laws, then they don’t understand our history very well. Just read some quotes by our founding fathers. They weren’t too keen on religion at all. But, they wanted all to have religious freedom. Which we have.

2) How is allowing same-sex marriage or serving someone pizza effecting a heterosexual’s life or marriage? It isn’t, and if it is, then maybe they need to look themselves in the mirror and get some self-confidence. Even if you believe with every ounce of your being that marriage is between one man and one woman, how in the heck is letting a same-sex couple get married affecting your marriage? Why is there such an adament need to fight for this to become defined in our secular laws? It just doesn’t make sense to me. No one is making any clergy or church perform and bless these unions. You aren’t being forced to do anything against your religion. But pizza? A for-profit business making a wedding cake? That is different. Discrimination is wrong in our secular world. And any business who justifies it with religion is simply wanting to discriminate. They aren’t losing their faith, beliefs or religion over it. Good grief.

3) If a major goal of any Believer is to make disciples of Christ, they aren’t doing a very good job of it. In fact, no gay person is going to want to see what the unconditional love of Jesus really is, if Christians can’t grasp how to do so toward others, but instead discriminate against them. Believers are ambassadors. They are representatives. Hmm. Big fail.

 

4) Religious justification of all kinds of horrible things have happened in history: the caste system in India; the Crusades; burning of innocent “witches”; slavery and segregation; women not being allowed to vote; eugenics laws in Indiana and other states, which Hitler actually used as inspiration for his justified killing of millions of Jews, gypsies, mentally ill, homosexuals, and other groups of “unwanted” people. Judgement reigns, and hatred is the driving force, even if Christians want to claim that they “love the sinner, but hate the sin”…which, by the way, is nowhere in the Bible.

Listen, regardless if someone believes that being gay is a choice or is in their DNA, all of these laws that are being discussed are simply a way to legally discriminate against people: people who sin, love, pay taxes, have children, and live in a country that guarantees them protection against being targeted, whether or not they believe in Jesus and the Bible. Thankfully we have that freedom.

These laws are as un-American as the very country that our Founding Fathers seceded from through the Revolutionary War. Can’t we learn from history? No one is being asked to give up their religion. Christians aren’t being persecuted. Churches still are exempt from taxation, yet they want to dictate legalized discrimination in our country?

This is appalling.

I, for one, don’t know what it truly feels like to be discriminated against, though I am a woman and have experienced minor amounts of inequality and sexism. But if I were to walk into a pizza restaurant and ask them to cater my wedding (who does that, anyway?) and they wouldn’t do it because I am an avid Ally, plus they know my ex is gay and married, they could try to deny me their services based on their religious beliefs…if things keep going the way that they are. What if my own kids went somewhere with my ex and his husband and they weren’t served because their dads are gay? Would I have recourse? Not under the current situation. This is not right…and needs to be fought.

Experiencing my husband coming out of the closet, when I believed that being gay was a sin and a choice, truly caused my world to crumble. With this came a crisis of faith, forcing me to view all of my beliefs in light of my personal experience. I am so glad that happened. Otherwise, I might find myself on the wrong side of history, supporting the idea that my religion calls for me to discriminate against another person in this country. My religion would have also called me to fight for erroneous beliefs and to support laws in our secular society to make it legal for me to discriminate, because “speaking the truth in love” is what I am called to do, even if it hurts another person at their core.

If I did that, Jesus would be shaking his head, trying to gently show me that I have missed the mark. “Love one another, as I have loved you, and make disciples of all nations. Oh, and don’t forget about those stones that you really have no right to throw. Because, you know, that judgement thing is no bueno.”

Yet, that’s what these laws are doing: Judging for Jesus. Put the stones down, those of you who justify these things. Just love, eat your pizza, and be thankful that you live in a country where you can practice your religion without persecution or discrimination.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily “86 the Stones” Reese

 

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