The useful thing about the Left’s willingness to expose its ignorance is that analyzing its errors often leads one to greater truths. For me, the greater truth flowing from a poster highlighting Leftist stupidity is that Jesus almost certainly would have approved of Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as well as similar acts in other states and under federal law.
Being Jewish, I have to admit that I don’t usually run things through a “What Would Jesus Do” filter. However, I started thinking along those lines when a large number of my Leftist Facebook friends got very excited about this Easter poster:
My first thought was that, in general principle, the man who preached the Sermon on the Mount would not have approved of that poster. Jesus was not generally a fan of flogging:
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.
Still, there’s a grain of truth in that anti-Christian poster. Upon his entry into Jerusalem, Jesus did yell at the money changers and tip over their tables. What enraged him, though, wasn’t their profession, even though he did castigate their enclave as a “den of thieves.” Instead, he was upset because they were profaning the holy area of the Temple. Matthew describes an angry man:
And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
John describes a man willing to use the lash to clean God’s house:
And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:
And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;
And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.
What Lefties, who are “instruction” learners, rather than “principle” learners, take away from John is very specific: Flog people who handle money. In fact, that’s completely wrong. I’ve already noted that, as a general. matter, Jesus did not believe in using violence against his fellow man, even if said fellow man was doing something mean or sinful. There was a bigger principle at stake here. What drove Jesus to a violent frenzy was the desecration of the Temple. Jesus had a clear hierarchy: Treat your fellow man with love and kindness; but treat God, his house, and his words, with absolute reverence, untainted by government or commerce.
Jesus’s clear delineation between religious and secular matters appears again when he was called upon to talk about taxes. When hostile questioners tried to get Jesus to reject as a matter of faith the taxes that Rome imposed on Jews, he instead drew a bright line in the sand: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”
The Founders, all of whom were steeped in the Bible even if they were not practicing Christians, knew about Jesus’s efforts to keep commerce and government away from the purity of faith. They were also aware of their own history: For more than 100 years, Christians and Jews had come to America to escape the stifling, and often deadly, restrictions imposed upon them by European governments because of their faith. It was in this context that the First Amendment came into being:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Thanks to the 14th Amendment, the individual states are also barred from making laws that impinge on religious freedom. The only exceptions are laws that advance a clearly compelling state interest. For example, assuming we don’t lapse into complete dhimmitude any time soon, our laws against murder would prohibit sharia’s insistence that gays are an offense to Allah and must be hanged, thrown off buildings, or beaten to death. Outside of abortion, which is a discussion for another day, American morality has been such that the State’s compelling state interest is to protect people’s lives, if at all possible, not to take them.
Given that both Jesus and the Founders upheld an inviolable sphere in which people are free to practice their faith without the sullying influences of government and commerce, what would Jesus think of Indiana’s new RFRA laws? My feeling is that he’d approve.
Rich Lowry sums up precisely what Indiana’s RFRA law is and what it is not:
All the Indiana law says is that the state can’t substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion, unless there is a compelling governmental interest at stake and it is pursued by the least restrictive means. The law doesn’t mandate any particular outcome; it simply provides a test for the courts in those rare instances when a person’s exercise of religion clashes with a law.
The law does not mandate casting stones at gays nor does it require Christians to hate gays. And interestingly enough, the vast majority of Christians did not cast stones at gays, nor do they hate them (although they disapprove of their sexual practices).
The only thing that the law does is to say, consistent with both Jesus’s teachings and the Constitution, that people of conscience cannot be forced to bring commerce or government diktats into their own inviolable area of faith. Put another way, to the extent marriage is a core sacrament to the faithful, the law cannot force them to sell themselves out — in effect, to become coerced money changers in their own temple.
Incidentally, while I’m on the subject of the gay lobby pushing ever harder on Christians and Christian doctrine, let me say that all of this was predictable. Years and years ago, I warned that gay marriage had nothing to do with marriage and everything to do with toppling religion. Here’s what I had to say on the subject in 2009, when Prop. 8 (defining marriage in California as being between a man and a woman) was a hot ballot item:
As you know, one of my main reasons for supporting Proposition 8, which amended the California constitution to define marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman, was because I believe that the move to redefine marriage has the potential to put the State and religious organizations — especially the Catholic church — into a head-on collision.
Liberals, when confronted with this notion, will often argue that, while the Catholic Church objects to abortion, that’s never created a constitutional crisis. What they ignore is the fact that, while the church is not in the business of providing abortions, it is in the business of providing marriages. ***
Keep in mind that, for Catholics, marriage isn’t just a white dress, cake and Mendelssohn’s wedding march. Instead, it’s a sacrament. A basic tenet of the religion is the joining of man and woman before God. Marriage is one of the sacraments.
So imagine this scenario: Two men go to the local Catholic parish and demand that it marry them. The priest, sympathetic to their love for each other, nevertheless states that he cannot, at a purely religious level, marry them. The men turn around and sue the Church for violating their Constitutional rights. Suddenly, the judicial system is called upon to examine doctrinal issues to determine whether they mesh with Constitutional issues. It’s a scary scenario for anyone who takes seriously the principle that government may not interfere with religious doctrine.
The RFRA fight is not about protecting gays from discrimination. While the ignorant sheeple who are going around screaming about boycotting Indiana are incapable of understanding this, the people spearheading the charge know perfectly well that RFRA is in essence a shorthand for the established constitutional principle that states may not impose on religion without a compelling reason.
These same operators have a clear ultimate goal, which is to see religion overturned. Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Castro, and all the other Leftists who took over Judeo-Christian countries understood that traditional religion, with its emphasis on personal responsibility, justice, morality, and grace, is the enemy of socialism and tyranny. In America, though, because the Constitution precludes direct attacks on Christianity, gay marriage represents a back door way to destroy both the faith and the faithful. The tactic is working too, as Gov. Pence has already pretty much surrendered.
For more on the upcoming attacks on traditional religions, check out this Ben Shapiro post.
I can’t think of a better way to end this post than to quote Servo1969 about the nature of those groups that seek to overturn the Judeo-Christian tradition in this country — and their nature is not aligned with Christ’s principles about our responsibilities to our fellow man:
The thing to remember about all these modern “rights” groups is that no matter how much they use the word “equal” they don’t really mean it. They don’t want to be regarded as equal with their oppressors; They want to be regarded as better than their oppressors. They want to be given special treatment in all situations and they want it entered into law.
Modern radical feminists are actually female supremacists. They believe they are better than men and that men deserve to be punished collectively for their past transgressions against women.
Modern radical gay rights activists are actually homosexual supremacists.They believe they are better than Christians and that Christians deserve to be punished collectively for their past transgressions against homosexuals.
Modern radical [insert minority here] equal rights activists are actually [insert minority here] supremacists.They believe they are better than whites and that whites deserve to be punished collectively for their past transgressions against [insert minority here].
Christ, with his emphasis on the fact that we are all responsible for ourselves and all equal before God, would not approve.