Back in the days when the FBI orchestrated the sting called Ab-scam, nobody seemed to be troubled by the name.
Then an Arab-American remarked, “Every time you hear Ab-scam, think of calling it Jew-scam.”
Today we are witnessing the same awakening. It’s occurring in the debate over gays vs. religious freedom.
People who think their religion mandates opposition to gays believe that a business should be able to deny service to gays — under the excuse of “religious freedom.”
In this debate, every time you hear gays, insert the word blacks.
Imagine Americans getting all riled up in support of a baker who refused to bake a cake for the wedding of a black couple, and saying, “He shouldn’t have to do something that he believes is against his religion!”
Society has progressed enough that the news media hops right on any hint of discrimination based on race, be it an act or simply words — like the college fraternity from Mississippi whose members were singing on a bus about no blacks ever being allowed to join.
In place of blacks, insert the word gays.
Nobody today would think of passing a law reserving the right to deny service to blacks — and call it “religious freedom.”
That WAS done before the civil-rights movement, but it was done not under the façade of “religious freedom;” rather, “state’s rights.” No federal law (people insisted) should bully a small business. The very same argument is being used today against gays. The Indiana law (explained the Governor) protects individuals and businesses against “government over-reach.”
That’s the loophole these days for discrimination. Now that the Southern strategy of “state’s rights” has been sufficiently unveiled as an outlet for prejudice, the justification for laws protecting people who wish to discriminate is “religious freedom.”
It will take time for the enlightenment to occur on these platitudes over “religious freedom” just as it has occurred over “state’s rights.”
When I was serving my first congregation (near Madison, Wisconsin), I got a phone call one evening from one of the church’s college students. She was studying in the neighboring state of Iowa — at Drake University. This young lady called me to ask about something that troubled her. She had been attending a church that morning. The pastor preached on the typical, “biblical” truth about gays. The young woman stood up and walked out.
She phoned me to ask what I thought — had she done right?
I replied, “What if the pastor was talking about not gays but blacks? And everything he said about gays, he was saying about blacks. Would you have felt okay about walking out?”
I continued, “You’re just ahead of your time. You can see it. They can’t.”