Friday, January 30, 2015

Religious liberty or discrimination? Think on these cases

We Americans are a divided lot these days. The problem: Too many of us seem eager to fight first and think later.

Take religion, a subject where you’d expect some thoughtfulness, even prayerfulness. Instead, the news is filled with war-like language over everything from same-sex marriage to Islam to persecution of Christians.

So let me ask you to cool your jets for a few minutes and ponder the following cases – some real, some hypothetical. Here goes:

  • A bill was introduced this week in the North Carolina Senate that would allow magistrates and registers of deeds who object to marrying gay couples to recuse themselves for religious reasons. What do you think? How about, say, Catholic magistrates and registers of deeds who may object to marrying people who have been divorced?

  • The mayor of Atlanta dismissed the city’s fire chief this month after he called homosexuality “vile” in a book he self-published and distributed to employees. What do you think? What if, say, the chief had written that Jews were bound for hell if they don’t believe in the divinity of Jesus?

  • What would you think about a Muslim public school teacher who wore a hijab, or head scarf? How about a public school teacher who wore a necklace that prominently displayed a Christian cross?

  • In a case involving Hobby Lobby, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that corporations with religious owners cannot be required to pay for insurance coverage for contraception. What do you think? What about a company whose owners had religious objections to, say, blood transfusions or even hospitalization?

  • Duke University recently sparked an uproar when it planned – than canceled plans – to begin a weekly Muslim call to prayer from the campus’ Christian chapel. What do you think? What would you think if a mosque or synagogue refused worship space to a Christian student group?

  • Saying employees are expected to abide by Catholic doctrine, Charlotte Catholic High School recently severed ties with a popular teacher after he used Facebook to announce plans to marry his male partner. What do you think? What if the high school had severed ties with a teacher because he and his wife practiced birth control – also a violation of church doctrine?

  • Does the violence of abortion clinic bombers and the Ku Klux Klan color your view of all Christians? Does the violence committed by radical jihadis color your view of all Muslims?

  • What do you think of cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad? How about cartoons making fun of Jesus?

My point: Us-vs.-them thinking often blinds us to the other side of an issue. If you want others to respect your identity – religious or otherwise – start by respecting theirs.

-- Tim Funk 


Anonymous said...

So, Tim, how many Christians in America killed multiple people in the name of Christianity last year, and bragged about it with Christian leaders refusing to condemn it?

Contraception: private company exerting private rights.

Gay Marriage is not a carefully defined and accepted legal concept as of yet. Divorce is.

Are Jewish people advertising that Christian youth groups can hold religious services at their place?

You compare apples to oranges but want to try to make it apples and apples...low grade iq column imho

Archiguy said...

anon 8:21 - By refusing to consider the valid points Mr. Funk made, you demonstrated that you missed the point of the column entirely.

Further, your refusal to see the, yes, apples-to-apples comparisons he made, you further illustrated the problem he's discussing: i.e. the blinders that too many Christians put on to prevent them from seeing that the modern world is not black and white, but in fact made of many shades of gray.

You also miss his primary point that empathy and compassion are the way out of the religious and political logjam we find ourselves in today. Every single one of those comparisons are valid, and should be food for thought. Although clearly not thoughts you're interested in.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Owned him, Archi!! Nice rebuttal.


I agree with the crux of the article, it's become way too much all or nothing, us or them, play for keeps vs. working together for the betterment of everyone and being compassionate and appreciative of our wondrous diversity. As a Christian myself, I am appaled that the worst of it seems to be coming from others who claim to be Christians.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Funk, you restore my faith in Christians. I am constantly frustrated by the unChristian like comments everywhere that I forget there are reasonable people out there. Thank you for your articles every week, this from a "non"