While it is good news that the governor of Arizona vetoed the recent bill allowing discrimination of LGBTQ persons based on “sincere religious beliefs” and the NFL, MLB and major businesses urged her to veto it, the amazing thing is that the bill was written and passed by the legislature in the first place. You would think that fifty years after the sit-ins in the South and the Civil Rights movement that legal discrimination would be out of sight.
One commentator said that he was of the “viewpoint” that sexual orientation was biological and not a lifestyle choice. Good for him, but “viewpoint?” Facts aren’t viewpoints. Like those who deny climate change as caused by human activity – it is not a “viewpoint.” Someone once said that while you are entitled to your own opinions, you aren’t entitled to your own facts.
The history of religion is filled with the good and the bad, with freedom and with tyranny. It is a human construct, after all, and we can’t expect human systems to be any better than the creatures who create them – those creatures would be us – human with all of our ability for weal and for woe.
While there is enough bad to go around, there is also lots of good in religion too– like those who stand up to discrimination, those who struggle for freedom, those who maintain their dignity under oppression. In this vein, I hope Twelve years a Slave wins for best Oscar. I don’t know if it is the best film, whatever that means, but it is the film showing us something important about the human condition and has lessons about dignity and survival, about good and evil.
Freedom is a good thing; oppression is a bad thing. Courage is a good thing; harming others is a bad thing. I have been reading about Michael Servetus, an early Unitarian who was burned at the stake for his beliefs by John Calvin, the Protestant reformer. Servetus believed that we ought to think about what we believe and be open to new discovery and welcome differences. For that he was burned at the stake. His example, like those in the Civil Rights movement, in the Women’s Rights movement, in the LGBTQ rights movements should be our heroes and our models in the on-going battle against discrimination. Servetus was one of the good ones.
Maybe Arizona will catch up one of these days – led by the example of the NFL. Now there is something to think about.
Rev. Dr. Jim Nelson