Until a few years ago, freedom of religion = freedom to hold, and live according to, one’s religious beliefs. It even meant the right to “discriminate”—that is, to classify certain behaviors as immoral. There was a time we didn’t have to defend our right to simply embrace a certain moral code. But recently, the governor of Georgia vetoed a bill that would have protected pastors and religious organizations from being forced to perform gay weddings; it would also have protected those organizations from being forced to hire someone who opposed their beliefs. He caved in to extreme pressure and declared that religious organizations merit no such protection.
We wouldn’t dream of forcing an orthodox Jewish community to roast and consume a pig lest they offend us bacon-lovers. We wouldn’t think of suing a Muslim establishment, with its modesty codes, for asking us to leave if we paraded around in our undies. And we’d surely see the foolishness of applying for a job at a Hindu school if we were opposed to the beliefs of Hinduism. But more and more, Christians are being told we must stop living according to our beliefs.
Religious freedom should mean that a Hindu school can teach its students about Brahman, or a Mormon organization can turn down a Wiccan job applicant, without repercussion. It should also mean that a Christian minister can decline to marry a gay couple without fear of jail time. But soon, that might not be the case at all.
We must stop dismissing issues like this as though we’ll never come face to face with them. The attempt to annihilate Christianity altogether is happening. Now. In our nation. Georgia is not Neptune; it’s our back yard. This is scary stuff.
What has become of religious freedom? I asked this question on my Facebook page. I also asked those who would shoot down a bill like this to define the phrase “religious freedom.” What, exactly, does that mean to someone who believes that a Baptist preacher should be jailed for choosing not to perform a same-sex “wedding”? I asked people to be respectful of anyone willing to answer the question, but I did not get a single answer. So I’m asking again, here on my blog: if religious freedom, which is a Constitutional right of every American, does not mean the freedom to believe and live according to a moral code, then what, exactly, does it mean?