This morning, the US Supreme Court is hearing arguments on whether our Constitution requires states to recognize same-sex civil marriages. They will likely conclude that it does. It is worth considering both the coming decision, and also how Christians might think about it and respond to it. And we ought to think through these questions now, rather than in the midst of the media (particularly social media) frenzy that is sure to follow the decision.
The heated rhetoric over Indiana’s religious freedom law is a preview of what is to come. It’s worth revisiting some of the Indiana rhetoric, to illustrate both the charged nature of the debates and the complexity of the underlying legal issues. Apple CEO Tim Cook called the law a “very dangerous” effort to “enshrine discrimination” and “rationalize injustice.” Kareem Abdul Jabar suggested that it was “a step toward establishing an American version of Shari‛ah law,” and journalist Ben Kepes worried that the Indiana law “feels very much like a prelude to another Kristallnacht.”
Other commentary simply got the facts wrong. Conflicts over religious liberty often involve contested normative views, but there are still some facts. For example, it is incorrect to claim that the Indiana law allowed commercial businesses to discriminate. The text of the statute heightens protections for substantially burdened religious practices, and its original coverage extended to commercial businesses. That would have given florists, cake bakers, and pizza joints that did not want to provide services at a same-sex wedding the ability to raise a religious liberty defense if confronted with an antidiscrimination lawsuit. ...1