Should the government require people of faith to violate their religious beliefs?
This question is at the center of ongoing legal and cultural debate, and the answer will set the stage for future generations and religious freedom.
One of the latest points of conflict centers on a bill that was introduced in the Kansas Legislature to protect the religious rights of citizens in that state. While the bill is now dead, debate spilled over into the national press recently as commentators, including well-known political pundit and FOX News contributor Kirsten Powers, weighed in on the bill and the larger question of Christians' roles in the marketplace of ideas.
Powers penned a strongly worded USA Today column suggesting Christians should abandon, rather than assert, their religious right not to participate in facilitate or participate in same-sex unions. She disagrees that Kansas (and other states where court challenges to marriage laws are in play or expected (See our "State(s) of Marriage" graph) should provide legal protection to individuals and businesses, including wedding photographers, bakers, florists, bed and breakfast inns and faith-based adoption agencies, who have found themselves prosecuted and/or penalized for taking the Bible's commands about marriage and children seriously.
Powers even accused her fellow Christians who support such religious freedom protections as "arguing for homosexual ‘Jim Crow' laws." She cites a couple of pastors who agree with her, one being Andy Stanley, a well-known evangelical and senior pastor of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga.
Her argument is dangerously wrong on three key levels:
Let's face it. The moral compass needles of those on either side of the same-sex marriage issue will never align. Fining or forcing Christians out of business or sending them to jail is not the solution; it is the beginning of the end.
Can't we do better?