Unless you’ve been hiding under a media rock these last few weeks, you may have heard about a little law proposed in the great state of Indiana that had cause a bit of an uproar across the land. A bill proportedly about protecting religious freedom (which in and of itself is not a bad thing), but was seen by many civil rights groups as an excuse for shop owners to openly discriminate against certain potential patrons (LGBT patrons in particular) for ‘religious reasons.’
So if a shop owner can refuse to make a cake for a gay couple because they don’t agree that they should, oh, I don’t know, be ‘allowed’ to be gay, or be ‘allowed’ to get married, or because they believe they are going to burn in a fiery purgatory of eternal flames, because their interpretation of the Bible tells them so, then anyone should be able to refuse service to anyone, right?
I can’t make you a cake, you are a black woman and a white man.
I can’t bake you a cake, you’re a Jew.
I can’t bake you a cake, you dirty Republican; get out of my bakery and stay out!!!
Ridiculous? Cleary. But, I mean, isn’t this the kind of the ‘slippery slope’ type of argument that uber religious types are known for?
What if the gay couple came into a flower shop to deck out their wedding. No dice? But if the same couple were buying flowers for a funeral, could you sell flowers to them then? Would it be ok if they were gay but the funeral was for a straight person? Is it difficult to see how utterly idiotic these arguments become??
Personally, I don’t consider myself to be much of a religious person. Though I have fond childhood memories of being raised in the Presbyterian church, I have grown to feel that the concept of God simply cannot be contained by one all-encompassing doctrine. And sadly, I find that extremists of every stripe too often twist the words and ideas of organized religion and use them as an reason to perform inexcusable acts so despicable that I find it difficult to comprehend how anyone could follow THEM.
While it’s been quite some time since I’ve been to church, I do have, as I’ve said, some rather fond memories as well as strong recollections of Christian teachings that I’ve carried with me throughout my life. Mostly, I remember the emphasis on God being love. About loving one another as we love ourselves. About turning the other cheek (tough one, that). About he (or she) who is without sin casting the first stone (even tougher).
Because in the Bible I read, Jesus didn’t care if you had sores on you body, your heart, or your soul. Jesus loved you, man. And he wanted you to love everyone else, too.
And I am reminded of the story of the loaves and the fish (Matthew, 14: 13-21).
As the story goes, Jesus was having a hard time about the death of John the Baptist, and was seeking some alone time to gather his thoughts. But this big old passle of people (a “throng,” if I recall properly) heard tell of where he went and followed along. Well, Jesus being Jesus had a soft spot for the poor souls and wandered amongst them, healing the lame and such, as he was wont to do. As the day wore on, the sun sank low in the sky and being situated in an ‘out of the way’ location, his posse suggested it might be a good idea to dismiss the crowd so as to head to their local villages for some grub. ‘No need!’ says Jesus, ‘Just feed them here.’ Well, the Jesus peeps were rather hungry themselves and not inclined to share their own meager stash comprised of only five loaves of bread and two lowly fish. But Jesus, seeing the look on their faces, said ‘Give ‘em up, yo.’ And he blessed the bread and seafood and said, ‘Alright, go on and feed these people.’ Now his entourage had their misgivings, but they figured Jesus must have SOMETHING up his sleeve, so they set out to pass around the sad little offering and steeled themselves for the ensuing mutiny they felt sure to come. But, lo and behold! “They all ate and were satisfied…And those who ate were about 5,000 men, besides women and children.” (Matthew, 14: 20-12)
Jesus made sure everyone had a full belly before he sent them on their merry way. He did not feed a select group amongst the throng. He did not ask where people were from, who they loved, who they slept with. He did not decide who was ‘worthy.’ He fed them all.
So, dear shop owners, I say unto you, as you pass a judgmental eye on the next patron who meanders through your humble establishment’s doors and you wonder, ‘WWJD?,’ here’s your answer: