The Growing Societal Disinclination Toward Protecting Religious Liberty
I’m not one of these belligerent and fearful fundamentalists who’s getting all Chicken Little about Western society’s secularization. Quite the opposite, in fact. As someone who self-identifies as a post-Christendom Christian I see it as an immense opportunity for the Church’s renewal. Freed from the temptation to wield the weapons of wealth, power, influence, and prestige, we may finally be able to return to early church’s commitment of following Jesus’ example of gracious love and humble service. That’s my overwhelming focus. At the same time, a significant concern I have is the growing trend that persons of no faith, who have little if any emotional resonance with persons of faith, are simply dismissing religious liberty as unimportant or altogether irrelevant.
Looking at one of the hot button issues of our day, I know people who look at the affirmation that marriage is a sacred sacrament between one man and one woman and simply scoff. It’s not enough for them that the government’s public definition of marriage be open to homosexual unions. No, they insist–even demand–that churches’ private definition of marriage be open to homosexual unions as well. These churches must be willing to perform homosexual marriages and their congregants who own small businesses must be willing to provide services for homosexual marriages within the wedding industry. Nothing but absolute acceptance is acceptable. While insisting that intolerance be stamped out, they are in fact advocating for a new form of intolerance. This is a troubling but not unexpected trend.
As a Christian who’s a blogger and campus pastor, I consistently advocate for the protection of religious pluralism in this country. I believe in respecting and protecting persons of diverse or no faith, whether atheist, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, etc. In the same way that I as a Christian am not in favor of mandatory public prayers that would force persons of other faith or no faith to participate in something of which they don’t approve, so shouldn’t persons of other faith or no faith at all not be in favor of forcing Christians to participate in something of which they don’t approve such as homosexual marriage? It’s a matter of principled fairness, not ideological alignment or emotional resonance. To my mind, it’s kind of like the old Voltaire quote, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”