An April 2016, Time Magazine article tracks the history of religious freedom laws to 1990, when the Supreme Court ruled against an Oregonian named Al Smith, who argued that his use of peyote in a Native American Church ritual—an act that cost him his job—should be protected by the First Amendment.
Smith who was a quarter American Indian lost his case and as result the ruling made it easier for the government to place restrictions on the freedom of religion.
The ruling was seen as an overreach by the court and in response measures were passed in Congress and the states to restore the standard the Court had overruled.
The religious freedom laws passed in the 1990’s including the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993 enjoyed broad bipartisan support. The laws were endorsed by a diverse cohort consisting of evangelicals and progressive civil rights advocates.
In 1997, the Supreme Court ruled that the 1993 federal law applied only to the federal government. In response more states quickly passed their own religious freedom laws to restore similar provisions at the state level.
The 2016 renewed movement to pass religious freedom laws on the state level has been powered by the Supreme Court’s legalization of same sex marriage and the civil rights movement of the LBGT community.
Social conservatives and religious leaders are now championing these religious freedom bills as a way to protect them from having to provide service to LGBT people and legally married same sex couples.
Many critics worry that these states will use such laws to combat existing non-discrimination measures in court, providing legal cover for stores that refuse to serve gay customers or businesses to fire LGBT employees.
As of the writhing of this post some 36 posts have passed religious freedom laws in either the 90’s or 2000’s versions.
While these laws were passed by man for the protection of man’s religious freedom. The question is how would Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith” view these laws.
The New Testament records that the religious leaders hated Jesus to the point that they arrested Him, tried Him, and brought Him to Pilate for a sentence of death.
What made them so angry at Jesus that they wanted to see Him dead? Chief charge that they had was people with whom Jesus socialized with.
The religious leaders were filled with pride and arrogance. They were particularly proud that they did not socialize with “sinners.”
They did not believe that the Messiah would socialize with such a crowd. When one Pharisee saw Jesus allow a woman to wash His feet, he said,
This man, if he were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner (Luke 7:39).
It is the opinion this man of “faith” Marben Bland, that the religious freedom laws of today are designed for “religious people” who do not believe that they should socialize with “sinners” who happen to be LGBT, or legally married to someone of the same sex or any other status which makes them unacceptable to these “religious people.”
Therefore It is the opinion this man of “faith” Marben Bland, that I and others like me who follow Jesus instead of some religion. Have no need for a religious freedom law because Jesus commands us to socialize with “sinners.”
God sent his only son Jesus to this earth to save all of His people not just the ones favored by a “religious community”. I sincerely hope you will join me and other people of “faith” in opposing these religious freedom laws.
For how can we as people of “faith” fulfill the Great Commission as described in Matthew 28:16-20 without having association with sinners.
I urge you to take your freedom of “faith” not your upholding of religion and do as the master has commanded:
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
It is my faith in Jesus which gives me freedom not some law passed in the name of religion.