The words “religious liberty” don’t mean what they once did to many people, especially if big business has its way.
You’ve seen those ridiculous “Coexist” bumper stickers, right? You know, the ones where the word is spelled out using religious symbols from Christianity, Islam, Paganism, Gay rights, Judaism, and so on?
I call it ridiculous because, as someone once wrote: “The C wants to kill the E, X, T, and the O. The O offers peaceful non-resistance, which will be ineffective if real trouble breaks out. The E feels like it’s been oppressed, making it intolerant of the C, the X, and the T. The I and the S are numerically irrelevant, but are just necessary to spell out the word. And the sticker is mostly directed at the T (or the Christian), who ironically poses no threat whatsoever to any of the others.”
In other words, the “Coexist” bumper sticker slogan assumes that each ideology be emptied of its actual conviction if its to work. And according to Colson Center board member Jennifer Marshall, that’s what big business is currently trying to sell to the American people.
In a piece for Religion News Service, Marshall says the recent controversies over religious freedom amount to a test of whether those who so loudly proclaim the need for coexistence are prepared to live by it.
Exhibit A is the new Mississippi law that ensures that churches and other religious groups aren’t punished for declining to participate in weddings against their convictions, or for setting personnel and housing policies based on their deeply held beliefs.
Further, this law allows private businesses and schools to set their own policies for bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms. In that sense, the law models peaceful coexistence on very contentious social issues.
But one corporation, IBM is claiming that, “(T)his legislation will permit discrimination against people based on their marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.”
Not so, according to Jennifer Marshall. The law protects those with religious scruples from being discriminated against. “What the new law does,” she points out, “is to prevent discrimination by ensuring the government will not force people to violate their consciences in very specific contexts spelled out by the law.”
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