Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Religious Liberty-Gay Rights Problem

4/7/2016--First, let me acknowledge that my very heavy semester has been taking a toll on my blogging. Too bad, because so much is going on.

On the religious liberty front, America keeps descending into an unworkable model of division. On the one hand, there is the push for protection of gay Americans against discrimination. On the other, there is a push directly for just such discrimination in the name of religious liberty.

We see this playing out in several States right now, adding in the transgender thing that I have not understood yet.

The first question is, why should any religious believer want to discriminate against gays? I'm not talking about religious institutions themselves and whom they employ. But why would a Christian not sell or rent to a gay person or couple? Landlords don't typically enforce morality in the lives of their tenants. Certainly, any landlord who rents to unmarried couples, which they all do, has no legitimate claim to refuse to rent to a gay couple. The Catholic Church has never supported economic discrimination against gays in the market, for example.

And that kind of inconsistency is also why these religious liberty laws are not helpful. Religious believers and their supporters in law now argue that there can be no judgments by courts about the burden being imposed on their religious beliefs. So, even if the discrimination they want to practice makes no sense theologically, they get to discriminate. I don't think America can accept that kind of economic discrimination.

I grant that there are two situations in which religious discrimination might be justified. First, religious organizations surely get to decide who should work there. And if they don't want people working for them who publicly flout their principles, that makes sense to me. Second, a wedding is for many people not just a commercial event, but a religious one. So, if a believer does not want to participate in a gay wedding, that seems a different situation. But even here, I expect these matters to sort themselves out eventually.

These are pretty dark days in American public life. Part of the problem is the lack of desire for compromise and common ground. Well, sometimes you shouldn't compromise, I know. But usually you should.

No comments:

Post a Comment