After a week of hearing religious liberty attacked, my religion doesn’t let me watch the biggest college game of the year Saturday night. This from an Alabaman who drove to Indiana to see the Hoosiers upset Kentucky in a regular season game and maintains a database of all 4,100 college basketball players.
Yes, I’ve been waiting for and predicting the Wisconsin-Kentucky match-up all year, and currently have Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns rated as the 2nd best player in the country and named Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky as Player of the Year back on February 24 (the AP agreed this weekend).
But after the Kentucky-Notre Dame game set the all-time TBS record for any program almost hitting 20 million viewers, the focus turned to an attack on Indiana’s law protecting religious liberty. After spending a couple of weeks showing how little he knew about college basketball, Charles Barkley turned his focus to attacking religious liberty and asking that the Final Four be moved. Wal-Mart quickly got in on the action with their CEO demanding that the governor of Arkansas not sign a similar bill there.
Basically Christians are being attacked for using religious beliefs as an excuse for being bigots. So let’s look at actions someone may take claiming their Christian faith as the reason, which are actually bigoted activities, and which must be protected so that the government is not forcing Christians to violate their consciences.
|Christian reacts to someone who is…||Bigoted, morally wrong||Proper adherence to religious-based conscience|
|Gay||Will not bake birthday cake, take graduation picture or meet when he visits church||Will not make wedding cake with “sacred matrimony” for same-sex wedding, take pictures of first kiss, officiate wedding|
|Pro-choice||Will not take as a medical patient||Will not perform an abortion|
|Muslim||Not let employee have any breaks on Friday to make sure he couldn’t join Friday prayers||Not teach someone to fly a plane if he had no interest in landing and said wanted to be a martyr in the jihad|
|Athlete||Didn’t watch 1955 World Series because Jackie Robinson was playing; not watching NBA because Barkley said it is a “black” league||Not watching KY vs. WI because it conflicts with Easter Vigil and we can record|
Obviously, the big focus right now is on gay-rights groups pushing their agenda after winning “marriage equality” victories much faster than they expected. With those victories on the books, they are now attacking anyone who does not adhere to their marriage agenda.
Let’s be clear: of course their have been times when someone has used Christianity as an excuse for activities that were truly bigoted and not Christian. No one wants a law that gives someone a blank check to take whatever actions they want and use religion as a “get-out-of-jail” card to be played.
If a Christian baker said they were not going to give someone a birthday cake because they found out they were gay, that would be bigotry. If a photographer said they were not going to take a graduation picture of someone because they were gay, that would be bigotry. If parents showed up at a church with a gay son, and the pastor refused meet with them for that reason then that would be wrong, too.
The problem comes when gay-rights group tries to use government to force participation in an action that violates the person’s religious conscience. So if a Christian baker who does not believe in same-sex marriage is asked to bake a cake that says, “Join us in embracing Mike and John’s Holy Matrimony,” she should have the right to refuse. If a Christian photographer is not comfortable immersing herself in a gay wedding and reception and being required to take “traditional” wedding pictures of the same-sex couple interacting, she should be able to take a pass.
If we don’t allow them to adhere to their religion then the next step is groups claiming that a pastor of a Catholic, Evangelical, Fundamentalist or Latter Day Saints Church cannot refuse to preside over a same-sex wedding. What do we do if they refuse? Do we follow the lead of communist China who kicked all of the Catholic and Protestant Ministers out of the country for not conforming to the Government’s beliefs and then formed a “Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association” of government appointed “Bishops” who were sometimes not even baptized to take over the churches so that real Catholics had to meet underground?
Other ramifications are scary to anyone with religious convictions. I have been amazed at recent conversations about pro-choice advocates believing that anyone in medical school should be required to perform an abortion as “part of the job” any doctor should have to have experienced. Yes, sometimes employees just need to do what the boss wants—but making the decision to “kill someone” against your conscience seems more appropriate to someone working for the mob than medical school.
Again, we expect medical personnel to equally serve gay patients, pro-choice patients, patients with different faiths —it is the action not the person that someone should be able to refuse.
I list a couple of other examples in the table. Purposely getting in the way of someone else’s religion. such as a Christian refusing to allow a Muslim employee a break Friday for prayers, would be bigoted. However, we also must not be scared to use discernment. If people told a flight school trainer that they were not only Muslim, but wanted to be martyred in a jihad, and wanted to learn to pilot a plane into the air and steer it, but not to land, then we can’t be scared of being accused of “stereotyping” by refusing the flight lessons.
Back to Sports: If a baseball fan in 1955 said they would not watch the World Series in 1955 because as a Christian they thought Jackie Robinson should not be allowed to play, we would quickly identify that person as a bigot trying to make up a religious excuse.
Unfortunately even today there are some bigots who say they don’t watch the NBA or college basketball because there are too many black players. Barkley may have said the NBA was a “black league” but there are plenty of white fans like me among the 20 million who watched this live last week as Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant tried to hit the final game-winner.
As for my reason for skipping the Kentucky vs. Wisconsin game despite being one of the most rabid college basketball fans around?
Unfortunately, tip-off will occur at almost the exact same time that the most important event of the Catholic year. The Easter Vigil starts at my church at that time.
Probably no one cares that I am going to church instead of watching the game. The problem is that more and more people think this is the only acceptable religious practice, that you can go to church but just keep your religion behind those church walls and never let your bigoted religious views be heard anywhere else but here.
The problem here is that we just celebrated Good Friday, the day on which the person who founded Christianity was killed precisely because he wouldn’t shut up about telling people when something they were doing was wrong. They killed John the Baptist before him for the same reason. These are the examples we have to follow as Christians so unfortunately we cannot only say our prayers with the door locked to make sure no one else hears what we are saying.
All that being said, no one tell me who won the game tonight until I have a chance to watch the recording!