The ink was hardly dry on Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Law before the LGBTQ activists began to protest. They began to shout and demonstrate and make demands on Twitter, because they did not get what they wanted. They have every right to have opinions, but in this vocal and explosive minority is not willing for a discussion to have any outcome they do not like.
This behavior is reprehensible in citizens, but to cave in to it is even more reprehensible in legislators. Statesmen who pass laws because their principles demand good law stand by their actions when street thugs complain. The legislators in Indiana are not statesmen who act on principles. The governor is no statesman, either.
Many people across the USA hailed the work of the legislature in Indiana as an act of principle—the principle being a commitment to religious liberty. It was widely believed that Indiana was demonstrating state leadership at its best. The legislature with the full concurrence of the governor would stand strong for the religious liberty of citizens. The Indiana legislature would make it possible for people who endured infringement of their right to live by their religious convictions to go to court for redress and relief of those grievances. The Indiana RFRA did not guarantee any particular outcome of the court action, because it only provided a guide for decision-making. It recognized that there are times when government has a compelling interest in service to all its citizens that may be construed by men of honor and integrity to override individual objections, even when the objection is rooted in faith. RFRA provides the means for resolving these differences with honor and respect for all. It is the sort of legislation that men and women of principle applaud.
Sadly for the USA, the Indiana legislature and the Indiana governor are not people who act on their principles. They act in response to pain. Like an amoeba, they back away from pain. Demonstrators in the streets make them feel pain, and reasoned appeals for integrity simply bore them. There is nothing civil about the behavior of the LGBTQ activists who demand what they call “civil rights.”
People open businesses voluntarily for their own reasons. They certainly want customers, but they do not fit the model in the demeaning rhetoric that paints people in business as nothing but greedy money-grubbers. Most people in business operate on principles that would put the legislators and governor of Indiana to shame. They are often willing to forgo profit because of their principles. Sometimes those principles are in line with secular ideals, and then they are praised for donating t-shirts to a Run for the Cure. Sometimes their principles are rooted in the conviction that they must stand in line with absolute revealed truth rather than blow with the winds of ever-changing truth in secular minds, and then they are cursed for being narrow-minded discriminators whose desire to refrain from participating in sin is interpreted as an attempt to thwart love. When someone forgoes profit for a secular goal, LGBTQ activists say that it is commendable. When someone forgoes profit for a religious conviction, LGBTQ activists say that it is evil. It never occurs to the purveyors of such slander that they are the narrow-minded ones, shutting out revealed truth whose value and integrity has been demonstrated for millennia, not for just thirty seconds.
In actuality, the First Amendment was crafted out of a commitment to the principle that nobody should ever be compelled by government to act against conscience. The first Congress wrestled with the language in an effort to be clear about that. The people elected to the first Congress wanted people of faith to be able to live by their faith. They also knew that people of faith, and specifically Christians, do not ask to be free to change their principles daily as their feelings change. They ask to be free to act on their principles, which have been taught and affirmed in the lives of believers for thousands of years. This is not a personal whim, the sudden discovery that something which meant nothing to them yesterday makes them feel good today. The First Amendment was not written to protect the right to live by a truth that might evolve into something different or more self-serving tomorrow; it was written to protect the right to live by revealed, absolute, unchanging truth.
The LGBTQ activists in Indiana and around the country will very likely have their way with mush-mouthed legislators and members of Congress for a while. They may even get their wish with the Supreme Court. If they do, I predict that the day will come, and maybe it will be soon, when they will wish the legislators of this nation had possessed the character and principles to stand firm for what is right. God operates on a timeframe shaped by eternity, and He knows that wish fulfillment is sometimes the very best punishment of all.To look to a non-Christian religious tradition for a good example of the difference between getting the best outcome and getting what you ask for, just ask King Midas if wish fulfillment is a guarantee of happiness.
Today, Christians are still allowed to participate in the political processes of the USA. Since there are so many forces that want Christians silenced and shut out of these processes, Christians need to be more involved than many want to be. A wonderful Christian woman told me just yesterday that her choice of worship is personal and private. She doesn’t like conversations about all these political issues. She is a wonderful Christian woman regardless of her decision to participate in the political processes, but she is a blind Christian woman at the same time. The uproar in Indiana is only a tiny subset of the uproar being raised by the army of secular thinkers who want Christianity silenced and eradicated. If you are a Christian who joins with secular thinkers in the snickers when other Christians say that we need RFRA because of rising Christian persecution, then you are complicit in what is coming.
If the behavior of political and social activists is not persecution today, just wait. The only barrier that ever has worked to secure and guard freedom in the US has been men and women who act on principles of freedom and integrity, not the flavor of the day that is being shouted in the streets. The legislators of Indiana can stand strong for freedom, or they can cave to the mobs. Which will it be?