I think the the Religious Freedom Restoration Act recently signed into law in Indiana, with a similar bill being proposed in Arkansas, is wrong.
It runs counter to my understanding of equality.
It runs counter to my understanding of the witness of the Bible.
It runs counter to my deeply held religious beliefs.
But, the uproar in response to RFRA has made me think about my deeply held religious beliefs which shape who I am as a person and how I try to live my life. I express those beliefs not only within the context of the congregation where I am the pastor, but also in the public square. My religious beliefs influenced my actions and decisions when I served on our local school board. My religious beliefs influenced my deciding to speak up about the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) racism in our community. My deeply held religious beliefs led me to apply to be a Conscientious Objector to the Vietnam War.
And, beyond my own beliefs, I find myself wondering about theirs, as well.
There was a time, not so long ago, when it was my beliefs which were being marginalized and political processes were being manipulated to silence my voice and to demonize my views. And, that hurt.
And still hurts, to some degree.
Now the shoe is on the other foot and I find myself wondering…
How do I respect their beliefs even as I fundamentally disagree with them? And what does it mean and how do I make space for them to live beliefs which are so central to who they are even when I think they are fundamentally wrong?
And, we all must be careful.
For we know our convictions can be a source of great courage and strength and also lead to great harm and hurt.
As is so often the case.
I have more questions than answers.
I can not condone the discrimination which these bills may permit.
But, I wonder if they are a symptom of a deeper conversation we are not able to have.