Are you offended by the recent spate of companies opposing the right of Americans to exercise freedom of conscience? Indiana, Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, Missouri and Arkansas have come under sharp attack from Apple, Disney, the NFL, and the NBA, among others. These companies have threatened economic harm on the states if they proceed with innocuous legislation that affirms a fundamental freedom already enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
Every business in America is weighed down by well-intentioned, but often harmful, legislation and regulations. We could accept their opposition to freedom-of-conscience laws if they argued that such laws are unnecessary. After all, they know firsthand the wasteful burden such laws inevitably become.
But that is not their argument. The companies oppose these laws exactly because the legislation affirms the inalienable right to conscience. This is an unacceptable and shameful stance. They have earned an enduring place in the Hall of Shame.
In reality, we don't need no stinking law.
Either we are a free people or we are not a free people. The Bill of Rights affirms religious freedom as the first freedom among other inalienable rights. There is no need for legislation, regulation and the rest of the "administrative law" machinery that is strangling our country. That many people feel we need such legislation is evidence that, as a nation, we have lost our way in the jungle of legalism.
There exists a true law, a higher law which obviates other feeble laws. It is the Golden Rule; "do to others what you would have them do to you." Live by this law.
Zealots in the LBGT community have attempted to use the power of the police state to force Christian florists, bakers and photographers to violate their consciences. The attacks on these Christian business people and the legal battles which have ensued are an affront and an outrage. They are a serious threat to liberty in general, not only to religious liberty.
I applaud the courageous people in the LBGT community such as Andrew Sullivan and others who have stood up to defend liberty and the right of Christian business people to follow their conscience. They are standing up for us all.
Freedom-of-conscience laws are intended to head off more such misguided attempts by other zealous activists. Hall-of-shame companies claim that they are opposed to discrimination, not religious freedom. This is a hollow claim. In fact, exactly the opposite is true. There is no discrimination involved here, there is only anti-Christian intent.
Imagine, if you can, a homophobic, bigoted business that refuses to serve gays or lesbians. It is hard to imagine such a business surviving in today's culture; there is no threat of discrimination. Such an unsavory character would attract ridicule, and possibly boycotts, but would be otherwise ignored as a public embarrassment.
But if a Christian baker declines to bake a wedding cake for a single-sex "wedding" on the basis that supporting such a ceremony would violate his conscience, then all hell breaks loose. The issue at hand is not about discrimination. The issue is that zealots in the LGBT community cannot abide that some Christians believe single sex "marriage" is not consistent with God's Word and therefore do not wish to profit from that business. Christian business people who stand by their beliefs must be crushed.
No, don't believe for a moment the hollow claim that hall-of-shame companies are simply opposing discrimination. They made the cynical calculation that it is profitable to align themselves with the zealots and oppose America's first freedom. It is a deal they may come to regret.
How should Christians respond to these threats? Hall of Shame companies are, after all, undermining basic freedoms. My first reaction is to retaliate in some way against them. If companies have no respect for their Christian customers, we should have no respect for them. Millions of Christian customers could organize and become former customers and soccer fans.
Thinking about retaliation brought to mind Donald Trump. What would The Donald do? He has fine-tuned the art of retaliation. When attacked, hit back. It's a Biblical response, a just response under the Law of Moses. The Donald even mentioned recently that this verse, Exodus 21:24, was one of his favorite verses in the Bible. "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth."
Admittedly, this approach has its attraction; it would certainly feel good to hit back. In the short run, this might even be an effective strategy to produce a truce in the culture wars. A counterpunch from the Christian community might convince all sides to step back, and adopt a live and let live approach.
But is there a better way? What would Jesus do?
We don't have to wonder what Jesus would do. In the greatest sermon of all time, Jesus speaks directly to 21st Century Christians with a message that is remarkably on point. Instead of the just response of an eye for an eye, Jesus tells us not to resist an evil person. "If you are ordered to court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too." (Matthew 5:40 New Living Translation)
We have heard these teachings of Jesus before, to turn the other cheek, to love our enemies and so on, but who expected to have to practice these teachings in the land of the free? Yet here we are. Courts order Christians to bake cakes, arrange flowers and provide other services against their consciences.
There is powerful historical evidence of the power of Jesus' teaching. Martin Luther King, Jr. applied this particular teaching of Jesus. He did not (directly) resist the evil man. Martin Luther King Jr. was not interested in simply a truce with bigoted adversaries. He was seeking a path to peace and reconciliation between black and white America. He wanted to redeem the whole nation from racism. Jesus showed the way to establish peace and redeem your adversaries. He can show the way to establish peace and relationship with the LBGT community too.
How can we put this teaching into practice? We can support Christian business people who have come under attack by ordering a cupcake on line from a Christian baker. Send cupcakes to each member of the Board of Directors of hall-of-shame companies. Along with cupcakes, send the words of Jesus from Matthew 5:40, so they understand the reason for the "outpouring of love".
Please, please, please, if you decide to join the cupcake crusade, be sure any message you send is honoring to God.
I'm going to start with a cupcake to Tim Cook, CEO of Apple.