Since I posted my recent blog about the proposed legislation in Arizona about amendments to Arizona’s version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”), vetoed by Governor Janice Brewer, I have also received a number of emails from friends and colleagues regarding this topic. One was an email from a dear friend and brother in Christ, “Tim.” Tim and I worked closely together a number of years ago, and we also worked on some community activities as well. Over the years we have been friends, I have enjoyed watching him embark on marriage to his beautiful wife, watched him help to start an urban church, and then to raise a lovely family. If I had a younger brother, I would wish that it was my dear friend Tim. Over the years, I have deeply appreciated his many kindnesses to me and his friendship. He and his family live in Arizona, and so he told me how he followed both his local and national news sources on the raging debate regarding the proposed RFRA amendments. He expressed his belief that enactment of the proposed law would be very bad at many levels. Although we have not spoken often about political matters, my sense was always that Tim was liberal, and I have merely attributed his liberalism to the fact that he grew up in Massachusetts. And so in an email exchange with Tim this past weekend, I wrote this in pertinent part regarding Governor Brewer’s veto of the proposed amendments to RFRA:
Dear Brother Tim,
It is always so good to hear from you, and thanks for reading my blog. . . . As to the Arizona proposed law on religious freedom: yes, there was a lot of stupid stuff said about the proposed law. According to ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser, if Arizona allows bakers to refuse to bake cakes for gay couples, gays may have to wear “yellow stars” like the Jews of Nazi Germany. It was an outrage to me that wedding cakes and wedding photographs for homosexual couples would be equated with the Holocaust. This was particularly disgusting to me as my father was a prisoner of the Nazis, and Mr. Kornheiser ignorantly trivialized the Holocaust. Moreover, it was said that if Governor Brewer signed the law, it would be Jim Crow for gays, according to too many people to list. So, I did expect Governor Brewer to veto the law. As others have noted, the media and institutions of influence sought to condition the public with some success into automatically equating religious faith with bigotry. To make religious faith in the public square illegal and dangerous, homosexual activists need lawsuits against small, powerless business owners based upon the notion that those who act on genuine, sincerely-held religious faith are bigots per se. So, Governor Brewer was under a great deal of pressure to veto, and had little incentive to sign the bill. After all, even the tax-exempt NFL apparently threatened to take the Super Bowl away from Arizona if she signed the legislation. (Why, as one of the commenters to my blog asked, is the NFL tax exempt anyway? Did you know how much the NFL Commissioner is paid annually? Look it up, you might be surprised.) As I wrote in my blog, the intention of the proposed law was to clarify for the Arizona judiciary what the burdens of proof should be. So, someone claiming a defense against a lawsuit, such as the baker/florist/photographer, as to why they should NOT be punished for refusing to work at a homosexual or lesbian wedding, could give evidence of their sincerely-held religious belief. And then, after the baker/florist/photographer has asserted their defense, then the government must show to the court why it is a compelling interest to force that business owner be punished. So as I asked in my blog, does Jesus have to build the bedroom set for a homosexual couple? Can He be compelled to do so? Does the Jewish deli owner have to serve pork, or must the deli be open to serve me on Saturday? Can the government compel a Moslem restaurant serving halal meat to also offer me non-halal meat, or even a pulled pork sandwich? Does the Moslem taxi-driver have to transport people who carry alcohol or pork products, or even dogs? Going onto even more egregious examples, can a gay baker be required to bake a cake for the Westboro Baptist Church that has asked that the icing on the top of the cake say “God Hates Gays.” Does an African-American baker have to bake a cake for the Ku Klux Klan? Or can an African-American photographer be compelled to photograph a KKK rally? As messy as it might seem under our constitutional system, the members of Westboro Church and the KKK also have rights, just as the Christian baker and florist do. And the Arizona bill would simply have affirmed the legally-recognized rights in the First Amendment “free exercise of religion” clause of our Constitution. So, I supported the proposed legislation because it sought to make sure that people of all faiths would not be forced to violate their religious beliefs in the event someone demanded that they do so. I find the idea that any state or the federal government that can force people to violate their conscience without a compelling reason beyond repugnant. So, I hope that makes some sense, my dear friend and brother!!
With respect and love to you all,
Thus, with the veto of this proposed legislation by Governor Brewer, the homosexual bullies and their allies have diminished the liberty of each person of faith in our nation. As Dr. Billy Graham observed in his broadcast on the occasion of his 95th birthday, the reason that the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ is so offensive to many people is because the reality of the cross demands a new lifestyle, and it is only the cross of Christ that can heal the disease of sin in the human heart. Please continue to pray for the eternal salvation of homosexual activists and their allies, and that their eyes may be opened to the true meaning of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.