Discriminate |disˈkriməˌnāt|

The national spotlight is on my home state, Indiana in a huge way. All over our enactment of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into law. Given my history of talking about such issues, rest assured I’ve been chomping at the bit to write. I’ve started on three different occasions, and haven’t quite hit on exactly what to say that’s really any different or helpful. Then it occurred to me what all the hubbub is about. Discrimination. 

We are allowing the word discriminate to refer only to the negative connotations of the second definition. But the first definition of discriminate according to the dictionary on my computer is, “recognize a distinction; differentiate.” It should be pretty clear to you, as it is to me that is exactly what is happening. People are in fact discriminating on both sides, as well they should. People in the LGBT community are different than people of other faith traditions. Irony of ironies, this law actually protects the LGBT community too. They would not be compelled by the state to do something that goes against their deeply held convictions. No additional law is necessary to protect them as a class, any more than an additional law would be required to protect Christians, Jews, or Muslims. Simply put, this law clarifies what is already enshrined in our State and Federal constitutions. With respect to Congress in our national constitution, it simply says, that “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…”

Sadly, while the freedom of the press has not been abridged, the function of the press most certainly has. It is my right to freedom of speech, and my own “press”, that is keeping this amendment alive. — Ken Christensen

If you believe that God approves of marriage between two men, or two women, or that he approves of the LGBT lifestyle, then you have a different “religion” than I do. This law actually protects your right to refuse something that goes against your beliefs, and have the government force you to over your objections. And it affords me the same privilege. That means we have equal protection under the law, and that’s the best we should all hope for –not special treatment under the law.

Let’s talk about Apple. Everyone who knows me, knows I’m a big fan. While I’d really like it if Tim Cook didn’t make such a big deal about his lifestyle choice, I’m not going to stop buying Apple products because of it. I also wish he had done as much research about the law here in Indiana as Apple painstakingly takes in crafting their amazing products. Yet, the very community of which he is a part wants tolerance, yet have no qualms about boycotting Chick-fil-A over the deeply held convictions of Dan Cathy, the Chick-fil-A CEO. Both Apple and Chick-fil-A serve me well. I’m not treated worse when I walk into an Apple store because I disagree with the CEO, or better at Chick-fil-A because the CEO and I agree. That is as it should be. Finally, you wouldn’t even think of forcing Chick-fil-A to sell beef, or Apple to sell Android phones in their stores.

Given that, why would you expect (or use the heavy hand of government to insist) that a Muslim deli owner to sell you pork? or a Christian graphic design firm to produce something that says, “Jesus is still dead”? Common sense and the proper understanding of discrimination means that I would understand that I should not go to a business owned by an LGBT community member and expect them to go against that belief in order to serve me. Nor, should that community have the right to compel service if it is not willingly provided.

At the core this is really freedom and our liberty in law. I include the lyrics for America The Beautiful for your consideration (Emphasis mine).

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!  — Wikipedia

The day we cave, and give one class protections that another class doesn’t get a choice about is the day that discrimination moves to the second definition. This law in my home state of Indiana actually protects everyone from the heavy hand of government interference in the free exercise of our own deeply held religious convictions, including those who are so vehemently attacking those courageous leaders in the Indiana House and Senate who sent this bill to Governor Pence to sign into law.