And Coming...

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Letter to Indiana From God (a bit presumptuous of me, but He can handle it)

Dear Indiana,
I am known by many names, and many of your citizens know me well, but allow me to introduce
myself to the state as a whole, because the state as a whole is currently in the news: I’m the Creator of the universes which spread out endlessly (I came up with infinity, as well) and have been around since Time began (that was mine, too).

Out of all that I created, Earth has been my pet project. What would happen if I created mankind with a free will, showed clearly the best way of going about life, and let them have at it? Of course, I already know the answer, because I’m outside of time, but it’s been a very interesting process for the last multi-millennia.

You may ask why I’m writing, when there are so many other pressing issues. Trust me, I have it well in hand, although you need to remember I see things from a very different perspective. When you see it all from beginning to end, it’s a little easier to see the reasons, but just as a forest fire may look – at a particular moment , to humans – as a disaster, the living forest knows that fire is a necessary cleanser periodically, allowing for better and more productive growth.

I am regularly accused of (1) not existing at all, (2) being cruel for allowing any number of things to continue, (3) being ineffective because I didn’t intervene in this or that tragedy, or (4) needing your help. Aside from  the sheer entertainment value of (1) and (4), I put up with (2) and (3) out of mercy and patience, and the obvious knowledge that my creation’s limited understanding was, after all, built in. By moi.

But there are times, such as the current uproar over your Religious Freedom Restoration Act (Senate Bill 568), that I am inclined to give a little fatherly nudge. I could have sent tornadoes, an alien invasion, the zombie apocalypse, or plague – could, doesn’t mean I won’t…doesn’t mean I ever did! – but that isn’t how I roll. I wrote the book (literally and figuratively) on love. I AM love, if you remember one of my publicists’ words (I John 4:7).

Governments are raised up with my permission and for my purposes. As one of my other writers said, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God” (Romans 13:1, NIV). Rulers always think they accomplished things by might or wallet or even qualification, and certainly I take all that into consideration, but I’m on an eternal clock. What happens today or next month or the next hundred years is not the pressing issue it always is with you, or them.

But Indiana. I’ve got some thoughts.

This bill troubles many of your citizens. It troubles many of the citizens of what you call the United States. For those with enough vision to see beyond the geographical lines and boundaries mankind has set up, it troubles citizens of the world, not so much for what it says, but what it implies. What it could lead to in the future.

Your governor, Mike Pence, wants to clarify the sticking point of discrimination protection, specifically discrimination against men who marry men and women who marry women, or would like to.

Not so long ago in your nation, Jim Crow laws kept the races separate, as if whites might catch black germs, as if blacks could not be trusted around white women, as if blacks were second-class, subhuman. Other countries went even further, gassing millions of Jews and other so-called “vermin.”  If ever there was a point that I questioned myself, it would be when my creation, my children, are so blind that they lose sight of the fact that they are all, each one, exactly the same below the skin. Same bones and muscle, same veins filled with blood, same brains with electrical energy.

Masterpieces, each and every one. How often you forget this one basic fact.

Your bill, on the surface, seems innocuous enough, providing protection from lawsuits if a person, business, organization, church, etc. refuses to provide services to someone on the basis of the person (business, etc.)’s religious beliefs.  Frankly, I would hope that folks would just as soon take their business elsewhere rather than get their knickers in a twist, so to speak. There are plenty of businesses that are not, for lack of a better word, jerks. Plenty of businesses who are in business to make a profit and not to make a political stand.

People need to be honest about such things.  “This business is owned by a self-righteous hypocrite who still thinks whites are superior.” That might work. Or “We prefer to serve only those who attend our church/synagogue/mosque/coven/temple” – I wouldn’t think such a business would succeed, but it’s worth a try.

Because you see, even with the law in place, the religiously inclined for whom you claim the law is desired,  are going to have a difficult time convincing the public and the courts that they are taking a stand based on religious beliefs if they are, at the same time, doing things that circumvent that very religion.

Religion is man-made, true – all I started out wanting for was that my creation love me, and one another. People have gone in various directions, and this is not the time for further explanations and apologetics. The fact remains that in the U.S. there are multitudes of religions operating freely, and your laws must apply equally, as your Constitution states.

Muslims will have difficulty proving that their unloving business practices are based on religion, since they know me as al‑Wadud, He who loves.  Sikhs profess love of God and his creation (fellow humans included), therefore, good Sikhs would serve anyone. Buddhists strive for enlightenment, which comes through unselfishness – not likely to hold up in court if you are selfishly refusing to serve someone in a restaurant.

And Christians! Not so-called (their name is Legion) but true, sincere adherents to Jesus Christ, will be laughed out of court if they try to convince anyone that being unkind, unloving, intolerant, etc. is due to their religion. Really? Perhaps they mean a different Jesus than the one I know so well.

Religious freedom is lawful, and I make all kinds of allowances, constantly, for the behaviors and attitudes I observe in the United States, because your government places such a high priority on this one universal right. One’s right to religious freedom is not less important than one’s right to obtain services.  We are in agreement here.

Common sense would dictate that if an organization states clearly that it is for men, or women, or heterosexuals, or gun-toting anarchists, or Baptists, or Catholics, or tree-worshippers, that anyone not in that particular category would stay away. Not wanted. Find somewhere to chillax after work. Common sense would dictate that if I want to buy something, and the owner would rather hold on to it than take my money, I can find it elsewhere. (I don’t literally mean myself, obviously…what do you have that I could possibly want…except your love!)

But people don’t always show a lot of common sense. That’s just reality. Every ornery agenda you can imagine is going to latch on to this bill of yours, challenge it, tie up the courts, eat up your budget. What you perhaps intended as a help for your 6.5 million citizens, a speculative protection just in case they ever need it, is overkill. Unnecessary. And it sends the wrong message.

Do you really want to go from the state known as The Crossroads of America, to simply Cross, as in Cross and Surly? Find ways to be more loving, more inclusive, more tolerant. Not less. As my guy said to the Romans years ago, "Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor" (Romans 12:10, ESV).

I can bless that. I will bless that.

Thanks for listening,