The Southern Baptist Convention is concerned that religious freedom, one of the foundations of this country, is presently being eroded. This week they released a list of of victories and setbacks in their struggle against this erosion. Like me, you may be curious as to what kinds of things made the list, so let’s take a look at a few:
Setback – June 26, 2013 – Edith Windsor’s same-sex partner died, leaving Windsor her entire estate. Windsor was denied the federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses because the term “spouse” only applied to heterosexual marriages. In United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act’s federal definition of marriage as a man and a woman was unconstitutional, opening the floodgates for a series of lawsuits overturning bans on same-sex marriage at the state level.
Apparently, Edith Windsor’s ability to receive the estate she was bequeathed by her partner is an assault on religious freedom. Who knew? I’m a member of a Reform Jewish congregation in my city. I feel absolutely no impact on my rights in light of this case. My cousin Amy is openly Christian, attends church regularly and is raising her kids in a Christian environment. Her right to do so has not been impacted in the slightest by this case. A friend of mine, Abigail, recently started a new church with her husband, who is a Pastor. Both are very passionate about their Christian faith. They eat, sleep and breath Jesus and let everyone know. They may have never even heard of Edith Windsor. And that’s okay because she has bearing on their freedom to openly and enthusiastically practice their religion. I’m having a difficult time determining exactly how Ms. Windsor is eroding religious liberty in this county.
Setback – June 26, 2013 – California Proposition 8 was a successful ballot initiative in 2008 for a constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriages. Approved by voters and upheld by state court, it was ruled unconstitutional by federal courts. When the state refused to appeal, proponents of the proposition sought appeal. The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that the proponents did not have standing to appeal. Although the Supreme Court did not address the amendment’s constitutionality, the dismissal legalized same-sex marriage in California by allowing a previous district court ruling to stand.
Here they are upset that the Supreme Court dismissed their appeal to make same-sex marriage illegal. Clearly, they are not fans of same-sex marriage. Fine. Don’t have one.
Setback – May 7, 2014 – Jason and David Benham, two brothers who work in real estate, were slated to star in a new show on HGTV called “Flip It Forward” in which the brothers would help transform a fixer-upper home for a family. After the media publicized the brothers’ stance against homosexuality and the homosexual agenda, HGTV canceled the show before it aired.
HGTV is a business operation. They can air or not air any shows they choose (within the parameters allowed on cable television). That is their right. If they feel the Benham brothers are poor representatives of their network, it makes sense that rather than put money into a show that might not bring in a return, they cancel instead.
Setback – November 2014 – In part due to the Duggar family’s efforts to oppose a Fayetteville, Ark., anti-discrimination ordinance, more than 1,000 people signed a petition for cable network TLC to cancel their show “19 Kids and Counting.” A counter-petition garnered even more signatures as of the end of 2014. TLC has not responded to the petitions.
Again, religious freedom does not grantee you the rights to a television show. There were a number of people who found Mrs. Duggar’s behavior offensive, they voiced that opinion, just like millions of Christians do each day. This isn’t an erosion of religious freedom.
Setback – Jan. 6, 2015 – Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed dismissed Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran following an investigation into Cochran’s book “Who Told You That You Were Naked?”, which calls homosexual behavior immoral. Though a city investigation found no evidence that Cochran had discriminated against homosexuals, Reed cited policy violations and possible lawsuits against the city as reasons for his termination.
Chief Cochran was not terminated for simply holding the belief that homosexuality was immoral or for even writing a book. He was terminated because he broke the rule against publishing a book without approval and for distributing it at work. You can bet with certainty that if a humanist Fire Chief passed around his book on why Christianity is a death cult, they would want his head on a silver platter.
I often hear it said that all religions are bad for women and minorities. All religious are evil. All religious are the same and cause equal amounts of harm. I won’t claim to agree with the Reform movement on every issue. I certainly do not. But I would like to point out that while Baptists are whining over people being treated fairly and other fundamentalist are throwing gay men off the top of buildings, when you walk up to door of the local Reform Temple where I am a member, this is the first thing you see. I’d like to see these on more religious doors.