While I happen to think that refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding that isn’t even happening at your own church is a distortion of what it means to follow Jesus, this is more lament than argument. It makes me sad; and our religious freedom tradition, quite rightly, isn’t particularly concerned about my sadness.
What’s far more frustrating than pro-RFRA sentiment itself is the lack of empathy displayed by some who hold it.
So much of the debate over Indiana’s new religious freedom law revolves around the gap between the letter of the law and the politics behind it. Supporters note that the law doesn’t mention gays and lesbians, and that similar laws (though not identical ones) have been on the books in other jurisdictions for years. Opponents point to the fact that the law’s advocates organized support for it with arguments about protecting business owners who object to being vendors for same-sex weddings. They're both right, just about different things.
Last month, I spent some time at the Sundance Film Festival. In a recent post, I noted the difference between marketing films to Christians and the possibility of film as a transformative space in the life of a Christian. Instead of imagining Christians as a set audience whose worldview we don’t want to disturb, I wonder if we could use Christianity’s specific theological language to enliven our understanding of film. Could Christianity’s theological lens illuminate elements of film that other cultural perspectives miss?
Perhaps the best example of this possibility that I saw at Sundance came from watching the Justin Kelly film I am Michael.
One interesting element in the debate over laws like Arizona's SB 1062 has been a widespread willingness to simply accept the basic framing—LGBT equality/nondiscrimination vs. religious freedom—as the obvious starting point. But just a few years ago, this wouldn't have been obvious at all. Religious freedom may be the rallying cry of much of the right, but only recently. People used to talk about religious freedom less, and when they did they were often liberals.
The closing of the doors of Exodus International earlier this summer doesn’t just signal a sea change in evangelical thinking about homosexuality. It also highlights some evangelicals’ dubious claims of adherence to immutable convictions.
On Tuesday, the general assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) approved a resolution calling on the church in all its expressions to affirm the faith, baptism, and spiritual gifts of everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. This was timely, given the Defense of Marriage Act decision, though the resolution doesn’t specifically mention same-sex marriage. Nor does it mention ordination—the other hot-button issue around sexuality in the church—though it does affirm that neither sexual orientation nor gender identity is “grounds for exclusion from fellowship or service within the church.”
Matt Yglesias is right that public policy must deal with the broad abstractions of the common good, not just with issues that affect lawmakers personally. And Anne Thériault is certainly right that a woman's value, dignity and rights are not contingent on who cares about her personally.
Still, both posts seem too dismissive of the role personal relationships play in our formation, our view of the world, our very personhood.