Men and women far more learned than I have debated for centuries the idea of the “unforgivable sin.” According to the Gospels, if you commit blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, you will not be forgiven. But what does that kind of blasphemy entail?
I think it might include deliberately misinterpreting God’s Word for political advantage. And that despicable practice is rampant in today’s America.
The so-called Evangelical Movement is an example. In legislatures across the land, these political activists are using religion and the First Amendment to enact oppressive and injurious laws. And “religious freedom” is also being cited to undermine beneficial federal laws such as the Affordable Care Act.
I am sure you are aware of the extreme anti-abortion measures passed recently by Republican controlled state legislatures. And you may remember the arguments raised by religious groups against the health care law in an effort to avoid providing birth control benefits for employees.
To me, the religious justification for this type of political action is self-serving – and possibly blasphemous. The reason? I don’t think the politicians – most of them anyway – really believe in their hearts that the Bible justifies their actions. I think they are speciously using the Constitution’s provision of religious freedom to make a case for bigotry.
I received an email this morning from the American Civil Liberties Union that illustrates what I mean. The ACLU is alarmed by a bill before the Republican controlled Florida legislature. And with good reason.
According to the email, this bill would:
… grant individuals, government employees, hospitals — and yes, corporations — and other organizations the right to refuse an extraordinarily wide range of medical care, goods, and services based on their beliefs.
Here’s what would happen if the bill becomes law:
- Government employees could pick and choose to whom they provide government services, such as denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples, or driver’s licenses to transgender people.
- A medical provider, hospital or hospice could, based on their religious beliefs, refuse to follow a patients’ directives about end of life care.
- An adoption or foster agency could refuse to place a child with a family member who is gay or of a different faith, even if that placement is in the child’s best interest.
- A restaurant or business could refuse service to a gay couple, or a bi-racial couple, or a person of a minority faith, or a single mom, or anyone if they claim it would go against their religious or moral beliefs.
Obviously, this kind of lawlessness is not constitutional. And the politicians promoting it must know the Supreme Court could not possibly condone it. On the face of it, the legislation would abridge the rights of those who are refused services to which they are lawfully entitled.
Yet Florida is not alone. Indiana and Arkansas recently adopted similar legislation. And several other states have enacted”Religious Freedom Restoration” laws.
What on earth is going on?
I believe cynical politicians are pandering to bigots who cloak themselves in religious robes to hide their ego-driven intolerance. Like those shiny sepulchers in the Bible, these bigots are rotten at the core. And while they may hope for forgiveness, I wonder whether those who exploit their frailty will be so fortunate.