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Encouraged by local reactions to passage of House Bill 1523

While I am grievously disappointed at the passage of HB1523, and the predictable signing of it by Gov. Phil Bryant, I am encouraged by the articles and columns the EAGLE has printed which voiced reasoned complaints against the new law.

The issue of “religious liberty” has long been a stalking horse for discrimination. Thanks to the panicked action of Congress in passing the RFRA in the early ’90s, we are now seeing the fruit of politicians cynically cloaking themselves in religion, for the sake of re-election.

I am a Christian, a teacher of the Bible in five churches in three states for over 35 years, a former deacon of two of those churches, and a defender of conservative Biblical theology.  This law, and ones like it in North Carolina and Georgia, pander to raw feeling, not to any threat to religious liberty. You don’t want to serve — as a business owner, employee, or government employee — those of the LGBT community? You say that you consider them and their lifestyles to be sinful? Serving members of that community violate your religious (probably “Christian”) beliefs?

Consider: where do the gospels show Jesus? Basically, we see him either confronting the pious religious figures over their hypocrisy, or, astoundingly, we see him eating with, meeting with, conversing with — whoops! — sinners. What would Jesus do? I can’t speak for him, nor can anyone else, but I think he would continue today as he lived then: meeting people where he found them, and speaking to them of the kingdom of God. Perhaps we can take him as our role model — no, scratch that. Why would we Christians want to have anything to do with those we consider to be sinners? Just to show Christ?  Just to show a witness of belief? My goodness, that would be … biblical. And those people might come to church.

A final thought. Have any of you in the newly protected class of citizens ever had dealings with an adulterer? A wife beater? A child abuser? How about dealings with employers who cheat or mistreat their employees? Or that business person who cheats customers or tenants? If you deal with the public, I think you have, yet you served them.  Are there really degrees of sin listed in your Bible?

This law reflects the worst of our character.

Jim Propes

Oxford