Anti-RFRA protesters in Indianapolis, Indiana, 2015/wikipedia photo by Justin Eagan

RFRA — Would Jesus Ever Discriminate?

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By Kyle Franklin

“I suspect that this whole thing will be much ado about nothing. I understand that there is already a similar federal law on the books (passed in 1993 and signed by President Clinton), but no court has ever upheld a claim using that law. Several other states have similar laws but they are not used. It will likely be the same here in Indiana,”  — Bishop Mike Conyer, Indiana 

I imagine that serving as the leader of a state’s congregation presents many challenges, one of which is serving both progressive and conservative congregations and parishioners. But leaders are leaders because they can and should navigate these murky waters.

There is never a time in the Gospels when Jesus takes sides with the oppressor. The closest he ever came was regarding taxes when he said, “Render unto Caesar with is Caesar’s…”  Were I to be bold, I would ask, “Who would Jesus discriminate against?”  Or, “Who would Jesus say it is OK to discriminate against?”

I think we know the answer.

Even though religious freedom laws may not usher in mass discrimination, it essentially allows people to pass judgment on others and discriminate against them. It is institutionalized oppression. What is next? Will the LGBTQ community be told (not asked) that they must enter restaurants through separate entrances or drink from different water fountains? My example is perhaps over-the-top, but where oppression and discrimination are allowed, oppression and discrimination occur.

“First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me,” Deitrich Bonhoeffer once said.

Sitting on the fence is still choosing a side.

This is not to say that everyone who opposes same-sex marriage should be required to perform same-sex marriages, only that human dignity and the example of Jesus constitutes human dignity, non-oppression, and non-discrimination.

Kyle Franklin

About Kyle Franklin

Kyle A. Franklin is a recent graduate of Gonzaga University, where he earned his Master's in Religious Studies. He completed his bachelor's degree in history and religion at Pacific Lutheran University in 2007 and has worked in both the ELCA Lutheran Church and the United Methodist Church.

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