Extremism in the defense of LGBT liberty is no vice.” That seems to be the Goldwateresque mantra of many well-meaning Americans today. But it has unfortunately created a rather ugly atmosphere.
The latest flash point is Indiana’s original RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act), which was signed into law in April. It was designed, in part, to protect individuals and businesses from being compelled to use their creative services to celebrate, honor, or extol behavior they find morally objectionable. The presenting issue is gay marriage, and specific examples include the Christian photographer in New Mexico who was asked to photograph a gay commitment event. The courts ruled that she could not refuse to provide such services.
We believe that Christian business owners should offer ordinary services to anyone who seeks them. But like just causes taken up during other eras of American history, some extreme partisans of a fundamentally good cause (equal treatment for LGBT people) are now discriminating against others.
The current challenge to liberty of conscience is serious, and it is likely things will get worse before they get better. But we are cautiously optimistic. Time and again in American history, wiser heads, committed to living in a just and pluralistic democracy, have prevailed at such times (from the Salem Witch Trials to the McCarthy era). More important, the church has weathered worse crises in more dire circumstances here and abroad, and by God’s grace, Christ’s church still stands. May Christians be among the calmer heads who work steadily and stubbornly to create laws that protect the rights and consciences of all who live in this land.
Here are four ways we can do so amid the ...1