By now, much ink has been spelt on the veto of the “Religious Freedom” bill by the governor of Arizona. Pundits have gone back and forth on the merits and legitimacy of the bill, and, not surprisingly, the pro-homosexual lobby has worked hard to present it as a new form of Jim Crow.
From a Christian perspective, of course, this is unfortunate news. Regardless of the merits of the Religious Freedom bill–the contents of which have been grossly distorted by the media–the fact remains that Christians are being coerced by their own government to violate their religious freedoms. Consider just the one example of the Lexington Kentucky T-shirt company that refused to print shirts for the annual gay pride parade. Incredibly, their actions were condemned by the Human Rights Commission as “human rights violation.”
The key fact in this case (and the many others like it) has been largely overlooked: the customer was not denied service by the T-shirt company because he was homosexual, but rather because the company deemed the nature of this particular job to be a tacit affirmation of homosexuality. There is a big difference. If the homosexual customer had asked the T-shirt company to print jerseys for the local baseball team then service would not have been denied.
The pure irrationality of the legal action against this T-shirt company is evident when counterexamples are produced which no sane person would condone. Should a Jewish owner of a T-shirt company be compelled to print shirts with swastikas for the Aryan brotherhood? Should a Muslim owner of a T-shirt company be compelled to print shirts for Budweiser despite being opposed to alcohol?
These counter examples reveal the intellectual and logical bankruptcy of the aggressive homosexual lobby. It shows that their agenda is not about just having the freedom to live in peace. It is not just about the freedom to exist. It is about forcing everyone else to approve. It is about easing their conscience.
Unfortunately this type of governmental coercion is out of sync with a democratic society that at least purports to value freedom of religion.
These counter examples also reveal how unlikely it is that similar levels of persecution will be experienced by Jews and Muslims. In fact, there is currently a case in Toronto were a lesbian woman is accusing a Muslim barbershop of discrimination because they refused to cut her hair. Not sure how that case is going to turn out, but I’m putting my money on the Muslim.
In the end, it is mainly evangelical Christians who are the recipients of this sort of persecution. This selective targeting raises an important question that perhaps too few people are asking: Why? Why are Christians being singled out?
It would be too easy for Christians to see this as bad news, but I think there are reasons to see it as good news. In a paradoxical fashion, the irrational and disproportionate targeting of Christians is actually validating for the Christian worldview.
Indeed, this sort of persecution is precisely what Paul said we should expect, “We are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life” (2 Cor 2:15-16).
Thus, it is not coincidental that Christianity is receiving the brunt of the persecution. When people suppress the image of God that remains inside of them, they look for ways to suppress the image of that God any place they can find it.
And apparently they find it in Christianity.