(above) Thousands of opponents of Indiana Senate Bill 101, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, gathered on the lawn of the Indiana State House to rally against that legislation Saturday, March 28, 2015. Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill Thursday prohibiting state laws that “substantially burden” a person’s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)
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Written by Lora Simmons
With a white cross centered on a rainbow, religious freedom and gay rights shared center stage on the cover of the most recent issue of Time. Within the magazine’s pages, several authors addressed the struggles faced by those on both sides. But when discussions turned from battles to victories, the scale heavily tipped in favor of one.
As Christians across the nation join the fight to keep their religious liberties from disappearing, the liberal left is increasingly sending the same message to opponents – shut your mouths or be stripped of your livelihood.
All in the name of tolerance.
In recent weeks, the State of Indiana has dominated the religion and gay rights spotlight after Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in late March. Dubbed an anti-gay bill, opponents argue that it would set the gay rights movement back decades.
But business owners across the U.S., like Barronelle Stutzman who refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding or Aaron Klein who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, would not be protected from the financial ruin caused by lawsuits, nor could they line up for their “license to discriminate.”
What they may have to get in line for is welfare and public housing after their government sues them and takes away everything they’ve worked for.
In his Time article ‘The Writing’s on the Wall for Christians,’ conservative blogger and editor Rod Dreher painted a grim picture for Christians when he asked, “Is it necessary for the new majority, which has won the culture war, to drive religious dissenters out of the public square as pariahs?”
Dreher points to what he calls the left’s “moral panic and inability to accept that there could possibly be a legitimate religious defense of discrimination at all.”
“We may be wrong,” Dreher writes, “But the Constitution gives us the right to be wrong. It is a right so precious it was guaranteed in the First Amendment, alongside free speech.”
And with cases against Christians and other conservative organizations popping up around the country, it begs the question, which group is being discriminated?
On March 31, South Bend, Indiana reporter Alyssa Marino traveled 20 miles to the small town of Walkerton – a community already struggling financially – where she publically placed a target on a tiny family-owned pizza place, and put their lives and financial stability in danger.
“After Memories Pizza owner Crystal O’Connor told an Indiana reporter that she would not cater a gay wedding because it would conflict with her religious beliefs, the world exploded,” writes Kristin Powers in a USA Today opinion piece. “She discriminated against nobody, but thinks the “wrong” thing about same-sex marriage and she said it out loud.”
While O’Connor was honest about her religious convictions, she was also honest about how she treats her customers – and in her own words – “would never refuse a slice of pizza to a gay customer.”
“Religious liberty, like free speech, is not an absolute right, but it is at the core of what it means to be an American,” Dreher writes. “And like free speech, it matters more when the religious expression is unpopular.”
And that is what it comes down to for the O’Conner family. They are Christians. Christianity is not popular. Unpopular thoughts must be stopped. Their business must be shut down.
As Powers writes about O’Conner, “She discriminated against nobody, but thinks the “wrong” thing about same-sex marriage and she said it out loud.”
But O’Conner’s personal beliefs and thoughts – protected by the Constitution and not causing harm – resulted in death threats and tweets encouraging the burning down of her establishment.
“An America where the majority casts aside religious liberty, and treats orthodox Christians as outcasts as gays were once wrongly treated, is an America in which it is hard to have faith,” Dreher continued.
And let’s not forget to address the 10,000 pound elephant in the room – who in the world looks to a pizza joint to cater their wedding?
SOURCE: The Gospel Herald