Law at the Jesus Creed: David Opderbeck


Today I received a broadcast email from the Family Research Council, a prominent conservative Christian group, urging me to “Stop Obama’s Crossdresser Protection Bill.”  The email referred to the “Employment Non-Discrimination Act” (ENDA), which would prohibit employment discrimination against homosexual and “transgendered” people.  According to the email, “[a]ll American employers including Christian owned business and potentially Christian ministries would be affected.” 

According to the email, President Obama recently appointed a transgendered person, Mitchell (Amanda) Simpson, to a post in the Commerce Department.  “The day after Simpson began work,” the email states, “[t]he New York Times reported that the main website advertising jobs with the federal government now says there will be no ‘discrimination’ based on ‘gender identity’- even though Congress has never passed a law saying that.”  (Emphasis in original)  The email notes that this new policy only applies to federal employees, but then raises the specter of ENDA extending the policy to the private sector.

Should the law prohibit employment discrimination against homosexual and “transgendered” people?  Does the FRC email fairly lay out the issues?

I’ll be honest: 
the FRC email seems somewhat disingenuous to me, although (or perhaps
because) the underlying issues are complex.

Let’s start with the government jobs website,  There is nothing on the site’s homepage about the gender
identity policy.  However, a bit of
digging reveals a link to this Equal Employment Opportunity Policy
Statement:  The United States Government does not
discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national
origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital
status, disability, age, membership in an employee organization, or other
non-merit factor.” 
The American Civil
Liberties Union blog
reported on January 6, 2010 that “gender identity” was
in fact recently added to this list by the Obama Administration. (In fact, I
suspect that the FRC email and the ALCU blog are playing off of each other.)

reference to “non-merit factors” is a potential key to the EEO statement.  Existing
federal law
prohibits job discrimination, among other things, based on “conduct which does not adversely affect the
performance of the employee or applicant or the performance of others.”
 I’m not aware of any evidence suggesting
that cross-dressing or sex-reassignment surgery affect one’s ability to perform
the basic duties required by most federal government jobs.  Moreover, I’m certain that most social
conservatives aren’t really worried about whether a guy in an Armani cocktail
dress can write reports on grain production for the Commerce Department just as
well as a guy in a Brooks Brothers men’s pinstriped business suit (or a guy in
metrosexual skinny jeans, or a guy working from home in his underwear…). 

Is the new EEO
policy for federal government jobs consistent with existing federal law?  Is it bad policy?  Does the FRC email critique the EEO
policy in a fair and balanced way? 

Turning to ENDA, there are several
bills currently pending before Congress that are designed to extended federal
employment discrimination protection to the categories of sexual orientation
and gender identity.  Under current
civil rights law, it is unclear whether federal employment discrimination
protections apply to these categories. 
A number of states exclude these categories from protection under state

Each of the pending ENDA bills
includes the following provision: 
Act shall not apply to a corporation, association, educational institution, or
society that is exempt from the religious discrimination provisions of title
VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964
. . . .” 
Such exempt organizations generally include churches and
social welfare organizations with specifically religious purposes.  It is conceivable that a court could
construe Title VII narrowly and require some religiously-affiliated organization
or institution to comply with ENDA. 
But as the law is written, it clearly would not require religious organizations to do so. 

It is true, however, that businesses that are owned or managed by people with certain religious convictions, but that do
not qualify for a Title VII exemption, would be required to comply.  For example, an accounting firm owned by
a Christian who opposes homosexual practice would not be permitted to
discriminate in employment based on sexual orientation or “gender

Does the FRC email truthfully portray the
purpose and potential effect of ENDA? 
Should Christian-owned businesses not organized for specifically
religious purposes be prohibited under federal law from discriminating in
employment based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity?



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  • ron

    Historically, businesses owned by Christians have not been exempted from the anti-discrimination statutes. However, religious organizations such as churches have been exempted from these statutes where the historically held beliefs of the faith would be violated by hiring persons with certain qualities or values. The well-known example is must a church hire an organist who applies for the position who declares himself to be a homosexual? What is unclear to me in the proposed legislation is this: are religious institutions are protected class?

  • Rick

    Although the FRC clearly puts some spin on it, their concerns seem warranted:
    “Such exempt organizations generally include churches and social welfare organizations with specifically religious purposes. It is conceivable that a court could construe Title VII narrowly and require some religiously-affiliated organization or institution to comply with ENDA”
    “It is true, however, that businesses that are owned or managed by people with certain religious convictions, but that do not qualify for a Title VII exemption, would be required to comply.”
    So would Christian schools, universities, para-church ministries, and bookstores be required to adhere to that law? Sounds like it (especially the bookstores).
    We can bring up being missional, and impacting all lives (and that is good), but are we putting that requirement on all these organizations in these circumstances?
    You asked: “Should Christian-owned businesses not organized for specifically religious purposes be required…?”
    As Christians, should we have such a compartmentalized mindset?

  • Both Ron and Rick have it right, as does Family Research Council. Businesses, separate but collaborative enterprises (Christian School, mentor programs, Bookstores, after school daycares, etc) have been sued and will be again if ENDA becomes law.
    And that’s but the tip of the arrow David.
    And you know it.
    To pretend that the ultimate goal of the Human Rights Campaign isn’t to come after religious organizations and institutions is naive.
    To inquire as though they would not is also disingenuous.
    We are not in Kansas anymore and haven’t been a very long time…

  • Richard

    I don’t think, biblically, I have the right to refuse to associate with non-Christians, especially if it’s because they do things that offend me. What makes me think I should have that right under the US legal code?
    What is the fear/slippery slope that the FRC is concerned here with?
    A Christiant business that hires non-Christians has a chance to live life in close contact which is what makes evangelism and love possible.

  • Rick

    “A Christian business that hires non-Christians has a chance to live life in close contact which is what makes evangelism and love possible.”
    That can be a good thing, but potential benefits are not the issue.
    Rather, is it appropriate for all Christian businesses (no matter what situation), and should it be mandated by law?

  • Nonprofit organizations should be allowed to hire according to criteria they set, be it religious or whatever. But laws should be in place to block discrimination across the board, otherwise. And I’m thinking that should include Christian owned as well. Maybe tough, because some such businesses are very upfront about their faith, and in such places often do seem to hire Christians. But it’s a business for profit, taxed, and therefore having the same benefits and obligations as any other business, I would think.

  • RJS

    I am surprised that this post hasn’t gotten more comment or conversation. This is a tough issue – and I wonder what our grandkids will be thinking 50 years from now as they look on the controversy.

  • I’m wondering if applications at times ask questions that would cross these boundaries. Of course such would have to be banned as irrelevant for hiring. Probably am showing just what little I know, but just a thought.

  • Brian H

    RJS, I wonder if part of the issue is that the discussion could go so many different directions. Does the government have the right to tell us that we can’t discriminate against people? Today we look at that question very differently than in the 60’s. “But it is a moral issue, a matter of conscience for Christian business owners,” some say. “That’s different than racial discrimination.” One can make a stronger Biblical case for the distinction, yet for me, it raises questions of biology. I still haven’t heard (and would be glad to be pointed to resources) a good Christian response to the phenomenon of hermaphrodism, or of homosexual behavior in animals (which we do not generally attribute to a moral choice…) I know that’s a whole other can of worms — but for me, it connects to whether the issue falls into a category of freedom of religion on moral grounds, or another form of prejudice that we have misread Biblical texts to support.

  • BIll

    Thinking there are some fine lines involved here. For me, the line must be drawn at whether the employer is a faith-based organization, as opposed to an employer with faith-based executives. Faith-based organizations, such as churches, many parachurch groups, say a CPC for example, would be crippled if one’s faith views were not in issue. FRC seems to paint with very broad strokes in its siren call, but I don’t know, maybe with the language games so rampant in today’s culture, maybe it feels it has no choice.

  • RJS

    I agree – there are questions of biology that need to be considered. And there is always the question of job qualifications. But frankly, I would rather have a colleague who treated people well, was in a committed relationship and was faithful to that same-sex relationship, than a philanderer who cheated on his wife and viewed women as objects.
    Yet within the church the first is “anathema” and the second is often viewed with a wink, a “boys will be boys,” and/or a decision to separate men and women so the temptation is removed (a decision which causes great collateral pain to many).
    It seems to me that the greatest sin of those discussed here is the sin of abuse, using people as objects for selfish purposes.
    One of the outflows of the gospel is the command to love others as ourselves; to look at people eye-to-eye as equals before God, created in the image of God.
    Anyway, this is a rant, not exactly to the point of David’s post.

  • BrianH

    RJS – thanks for that response. I think that your comment about objectifying one another is very helpful for understanding sin across the board in this area, perhaps even understanding some of the NT teachings in this area.
    In reference to the ‘non merit factors’, I don’t have a problem with that; particularly in the government. Churches and non-profits have the freedom to take a stand internally if that’s the compulsion of conscience. The government (last time I checked) was of the people, by the people, and for the people – which ought to include everyone qualified for the job.
    As to the fear this will carry over to the general work force, again, I keep seeing this through a civil rights lens – how many churches today would support the kinds of resistance to integration common forty-fifty years ago. I wasn’t around to see that unfold — did we see a similar level of panic-mongering then?

  • RJS #07
    “I am surprised that this post hasn’t gotten more comment or conversation. This is a tough issue …”
    I think you answered your own question. 🙂
    Generally speaking, I think churches and organizations that advance particular moral/ethical codes should be free to discriminate based on behavior … and I think behavior is the key question for most institutions. I think many religious institutions (not all) who believe homosexual activity is wrong would have little problem hiring someone who is gay who signs on to live by the ethical code of the institution.
    For a Christian business, I’m not sure (in most cases) why it would make much difference what sexual orientation has as long as the each hire knows the standards and expectations of the business. If someone once hired begins using the workplace as platform for activism then there is a problem … same as it would be for anyone who persistently uses the office place for political activism for any cause or candidate. They are detracting from the mission of the business. But here the issue is not their orientation, rather it is their disruptive activities.

  • RJS

    Brian H.,
    Certainly churches and non-profits retain the freedom to take a stand internally if that’s the compulsion of conscience. The government shouldn’t compel Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to hire qualified women as theology or language professors. Nor should Wheaton (or Cornerstone) be compelled to stop discriminating against Catholics. I think Calvin can continue to require faculty to go to approved reformed churches and send their kids to christian schools. I don’t think we are in much danger here.
    But I also think that a restaurant (even in Wheaton) should hire table staff, kitchen staff, and serve people independent of gender, religion, race, or sexual orientation – and I don’t actually care if the owner is a racist who thinks women should stay at home and hates “transgendered” persons.

  • Brian #12
    Being black is a personal attribute that carries no behavioral or moral content. Furthermore, there are visual identifiers that come into the question of race.
    Sexual orientation is personal attribute that is by definition about a behavior that has moral content. There are no visual identifiers. I could wake up tomorrow and tell you I’m gay, and the next day and tell you I’m not. Who are you to say? Not so with race.
    Discrimination laws concerning race were there to block discrimination based on the “outward package” people come in. Now we are making laws to protect people based on their inner state of mind and wish to participate in certain types of relationships and behaviors.
    Despite that attempts to meld civil rights for race with gay rights, I think there are qualitative differences.

  • RJS

    But being Catholic falls under the “inner state of mind” category doesn’t it? Should most businesses be allowed to discriminate here? (I even know some who would claim that Catholicism is a behavior choice with moral content.)

  • Richard

    What if the roles were reversed? In a down economy would you wish to have legislation that protected you from a Muslim prospective employer refusing your employment because you don’t adhere to Sharia Law?
    At one point does religious expression overstep its bounds in a pluralistic public sphere?

  • Rick

    “At one point does religious expression overstep its bounds in a pluralistic public sphere?”
    Good, tough question.
    Another question would be:
    At what point does a pluralistic public sphere overstep its bounds in regards to religious expression?

  • Richard

    @ Michael
    The moral argument carries weight in the church but not necessarily in the public sphere. I’m not sure that it’s a strong leg to stand on in promoting the ability of businesses to refuse to hire someone who is homosexual or a cross-dresser (not sure the moral case stands in the gender-identity situation at all).
    I had to deal with all sorts of “moral” failings in co-workers when I was in a factory. What makes this different from the guy that lives with his girlfriend out of wedlock? Should we be able to refuse to hire him also even if he is the most qualified candidate?

  • Richard

    I agree Rick. I think the next question becomes “If this is the public sphere overstepping and limiting my religious expression, how is it doing so and how do I explain to the authorities that not hiring a homosexual is a key expression of my Christian faith?”
    Is it possible for me to interact with and work with homosexuals (or transgenders, etc) without compromising my Christian faith or is the issue of homosexuality so core to the faith that I can’t possibly follow Christ and employ a homosexual?
    Separate but related, who decides this is a moral issue worthy or rejecting an applicant but obesity or greed are not fire-able offenses?
    Do we get to reject an applicant because of what goes on at home or is that overstepping our boundaries? On what grounds do we dictate what the employee does “behind closed doors” on their own time?

  • Rick

    “I think the next question becomes “If this is the public sphere overstepping and limiting my religious expression, how is it doing so and how do I explain to the authorities that not hiring a homosexual is a key expression of my Christian faith?”
    Having to “explain to the authorities” sounds like a little too much government activity, but I understand what you mean.
    “Do we get to reject an applicant because of what goes on at home or is that overstepping our boundaries?”
    Certain organizations, such as a Christian bookstore, would say “yes”. Should it have to “explain” its position to “authorities”?

  • bck

    It is a tough issue. A recent case, Elane Photography v Willock , related to this topic involved a photographer who was fined for refusing to take photographs for a same-sex wedding ceremony, thus running afoul of state human rights and public accommodation laws.
    While it’s not a cut and dried issue, I’m generally supportive of the photographer in this instance. However, in a hypothetical, I don’t think I would be equally as supportive of the photographer’s refusal to hire an otherwise qualified employee due to their sexual orientation. Whether either, both, or neither of those actions should be legal is more difficult to say.
    Figuring out how to legislate these types of issues while balancing competing interests (i.e. to not be discriminated against vs. to not be forced to undertake activities which may violate strongly held religious beliefs) is tricky and any law is necessarily going to end up infringing on someone. Therefore, it would be nice to see more public consensus before moving forward with new categories of discrimination law.
    “It seems to me that the greatest sin of those discussed here is the sin of abuse, using people as objects for selfish purposes.”
    I also think that this is helpful in this discussion.

  • RJS #16
    I think there is a difference, but I’m pressed for time. I may try elaborate later.
    For now I want to pose what I think is a more interesting question. I’ve written here and at my blog about economic issues. Repeatedly I hear how evil capitalism and market economies are. It is impersonal. Everything is about financial bottom-line.
    The whole living wage movement is built on the idea that as a business owner, I have the responsibility to pay my employees what they need in order to live regardless of whether their economic contribution to the business matches what they are being paid. Businesses need to be more holistic and caring communities, not just in it for the profit. We have compartmentalized our Christian values from our work life.
    Now the same people who say this, also say you can’t discriminate against anyone based on the values they hold, or behaviors they practice, that don’t affect them being productive employees. In other words, all assessments of a prospective employee must be limited only to their ability fulfill their economic role in the business. Now we are to totally compartmentalize our Christian values from hiring and employment practices. Which is it?
    Personally, I don’t buy the living wage argument. I believe employee and employer relations are a limited contractual arrangement where remuneration is given for services provided. The employer is not the employee’s patron … not responsible for the employee’s entire well-being. Nor should the employer be overly concerned with the activities of employees outside their role in the fulfillment of their economic role. For that reason, I have little problem hiring all sorts of people who differ from me in their private life, so long as they don’t make their private affairs disruptive factors in the business.
    So my question is why is pursuit of the bottom-line evil except when it comes to hiring decisions? By saying that I, a theoretical employer should shelve my values in hiring, aren’t you inviting me to compartmentalize? Isn’t this just acquiescence to pursuit of the bottom-line?

  • RJS

    I think this is a complex problem – and I don’t necessarily think that the government should be sticking its nose into hiring or wage practices at private businesses. On the other hand – having read about some of the abuses in “company towns” and other things – I am not convinced a hands-off approach is right either.
    I see three issues here
    (1) Is this kind of interference “right” at any level and if so when, what are the limits? I take a middle ground here – but am willing to hear arguments. I think that in most cases the government should be hands-off, but there are exceptions.
    (2) Why is discrimination based on sexual orientation different than discrimination based on religion or other factors – should it be? This is the point I was trying to get at with the comparison to Catholicism.
    (3) In most cases should a Christian employer discriminate against persons for reasons of sexual orientation? I don’t think that such discrimination (absent other factors) is actually the best way to spread the gospel.

  • CJW

    Michael, fair point. However…
    A Christian employer may/not have a legal obligation for their employees’ welfare, but this wouldn’t excuse not treating them as a neighbour/according to the golden rule.
    In the same way, there may/not be a legal obligation to hire regardless of gender/sexuality, but this wouldn’t excuse not treating them as a neighbour/according to the golden rule.
    In short, my Christian ethic holds that because of my indebtedness to what God has done for me in Christ, my obligation to my neighbour is hardly effected by the law – it requires that I not harm him or her, whereas the gospel requires that I actively seek his or her good.
    So, is it loving to pay someone less than a living wage? Is it loving to allow gender/sexuality to prejudice hiring decisions?
    Then, the question is how much loving behaviour is to be legislated.

  • RJS #24
    Here is what I’m getting at. Discrimination laws provides explicit protection for certain categories. Race and gender is relatively easy to discern and discriminate. Religion and creed are not easily identifiable by simply looking at a person but there is tangible evidence of religion or creed. Behaviors are engaged in (or avoided) … institutions are joined … rituals are observed. There are objective markers.
    Scenario: I work for a boss who dislikes Catholics. I get fired. I claim discrimination. On investigation it is discovered that I’ve been Presbyterian for 25 years, never joined a Catholic church, and only attended mass a few times for events in the lives of my neighbors and friends. What are the chances that I win the law suit?
    What are the markers for determining a sexual orientation? If we are to believe many experts, there is not a binary straight/gay but a continuum … and some people may change and morph along the continuum over their lifetime. There really is no objective evidence of what someone’s orientation is except sexual history, and even that is open to multiple interpretations. Therefore, sexual orientation … unlike race, gender, and creed … has no real objective content. It is in the mind of the individual and only the individual can say what his/her status is. Protecting sexual orientation really is not about protecting a class of persons but protecting a behavior.
    All that said, I’ll say it again. I don’t really care for the most part what someone is doing in their private life unless the make the private behavior a public divisive issue in the workplace.

  • CJW #25
    “So, is it loving to pay someone less than a living wage?”
    Yes, if they are not providing a quality and quantity of work that justifies such a wage. If a person is incapable of earning a living wage (and presuming the incapacity is not primarily due to self-destructive behavior), then society has an obligation to help equip that person develop skills that will allow them to earn a living wage or to provide for those who are simply incapable. Many businesses take this role on themselves, offering job training, education scholarships, and other opportunities as a charitable response but it is not businesses responsibility to serve as welfare agency for those who are economically limited. That is the role of society … which includes business, but also families, churches, volunteer organizations and government.
    Furthermore, there are many people who choose to work for less than living wage: Teenagers looking to get their first job experience. People working part-time/temporary jobs to earn a little extra income or simply wanting flexibility to come and go as they want. Interns working in business, government, academia, or non-profit entities to gain experience in anticipation of future opportunities. Are these employers immoral for not having paid a living wage?
    As an ethical business person I have no obligation to pay a living wage … only to pay what was agreed to for services rendered. But as a moral caring person I have a desire to assist and be charitable to those who are trying to improve their economic lot. Mandating a living wage simply melds wages and charity, making businesses patrons rather than employers.
    “Is it loving to allow gender/sexuality to prejudice hiring decisions?”
    Barring some religious institutions, I think overwhelmingly it is not.
    And we are back to my dilemma. In both cases I see the role business to be limited to the economic contribution the employee brings to the business. But if I am to bring my Christian values to bear and be made responsible for the employees economic needs … essentially becoming their patron … then why should I not also be seeking their well-being by intervening in their sexual-life, eating habits, exercise activity, etc., as guided by my moral standards? Why is my responsibility as Christian business person only limited to their material needs?

  • dopderbeck

    Interesting discussion so far.
    Ron, Rick, and Kevin (##1, 2, 3) — I think the question is not so simple as you’re making it out to be, on the one hand, but in another sense I don’t disagree with you.
    Let’s take the example of a Christian bookstore. I would tend to agree with you that a Christian bookstore should enjoy a Title VII exemption because of religious mission. OTOH, I think you’re right that in many instances, given the way Title VII exemptions are interpreted, a Christian bookstore might not qualify. So, this is one of the reasons this is a difficult question.
    I think I disagree, however, that the root of this problem primarily reflects a plot by the homosexual lobby to undermine Christianity and that the proper Christian response therefore is to fight vigorously against ENDA. I say I think I disagree because I think there’s more than a kernel of truth in the notion that some subset of people who support ENDA would like to see it as the “tip of the spear,” as Kevin (#3) stated.
    However, I’m not at all convinced that ENDA is primarily a tool in some kind of anti-Christian conspiracy. Moreover, I think a significant part of the problem we face here is the blurring of distinctions between religious mission and commerce. If we have in some ways commodified the mission of the Church, is it surprising that the state is now asking us to play by the same ground rules as other for-profit enterprises? If a Christian bookstore wants to operate as a for-profit enterprise, should it be exempt from the non-discrimination laws that govern other for-profit enterprises? I think that, at the very least, this is a difficult set of questions without one clear public policy answer in a pluralistic democracy.
    And this — the inherent difficulty of the question — is one of the things that, honestly, I find very unproductive and unhealthy about the FRC email. Can you say in truth that ENDA is a “Crossdresser Protection Bill?” Does this kind of rhetoric represent a healthy, winsome expression of concern by the people of God speaking truth and expressing concerns in love? In my view, the answer to these questions is clear: no and no. If we are confident that the life, death, and resurrection of Christ is the hope of the world, we can do much, much better than this — or so it seems to me.

  • CJW

    Michael #27, you say that mandating a living wage melds wages and charity. I say that Christians must at all times be charitable. I don’t think that legislating such an amalgamation would actually help anyone. But as a Christian, I can’t see them as incompatible. Quite simply, what you call patronage, I call neighbourliness; in your terms wasn’t the good Samaritan a patron?
    But as to your question about the limits of patronage/neighbourliness: I am not advocating employers be “made” responsible for the needs of their employees/clients, but that Christian employers who see themselves as not just consumers of labor would willingly take responsibility for the good (not just economic good) of fellow imago bearers. They would not then be forced to “intervene” in the lives of their employees/clients. Christians who employ their neighbours will therefore want their employees to experience healthy sexuality, exercise regularly and eat well, but without coercion.
    So, what determines which areas of an employee/client/neighbour’s life you seek their good? The ones in which they allow you to.

  • Chris White

    First off, it is not surprising that the world with its system seeks to attack the things of God, including all attempts at making sinful acts legit and Christian moral marginalized. It is not a conspiracy but the nature of the fallen world.
    The whole of idea of a Christian business is as bad as hiring a Christian insurance man or only going to a Christian used car dealer to buy your used car. Putting Christian in front of it does not make it a Christian activity or ministry. You think a bookstore that sells books written by Christians is more than just a bookstore? It is a bookstore. What about a Christian who struggles with a the temptation of homosexual sin? Are some going to exclude them because your book store is really a ministry? Why stop with homosexuality? What about all the other sins? Gossip? Slander? Lust? Anger? Slothfulness? Greed? Should the Christian bookstore have some sort of litmus test for all of these sins? Why single out homosexuality?
    The bookstore clerk is selling books, not their personal level of holiness. Forget about the intricacies of the law; hire the person who can do the job regardless of their level of sinless perfection. It is a bookstore. Paul said that there is no law prohibiting the expressions of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, kindness and self-control. Exhibit those fruits of the Spirit and hire the best person for the job.
    If you get hung up on a particular moral sin you tend to de-emphasize the others, especially those hidden in the heart.
    This doesn’t mean you can’t share your faith or wisdom with the other employees. It is not like selling books about Christianity require a believer to work the store. What an odd idea?
    But what about ministries? The book store is a ministry? How does hiring a person who sins ruin that ministry? Again, are you monitoring all your Christian employees (alleged anyway to be Christians) for their level of holiness?
    The focus is not the person’s sin but their competence in doing the job. Sure, the government is intruding into the religious realm all too often…get used to it. It is not the mission of the church to fight the battle of the world but against the spiritual realm. Our weapons are not of this world, why do you seek to engage the enemy at a superficial level?

  • Kevin McCullough

    Why is it that throughout this series of posts you continually:
    1. Take a tone of mistrust and contempt for your confessed brothers in faith, for things you can not prove?
    2. Refuse to allow yourself to see the openly confessed agenda of those who despise God?
    You see nothing wrong with ENDA. Yet it is unnecessary legislation. And the vehemence with which the HRC fights for it is supposedly completely innocent-pie-in-the-sky.
    Same with hate crimes.
    And check your facts brother… Check existing cases in Canada RIGHT NOW where clergy were instructed by the court NOT to read from scripture passages opposing homosexual behavior. Pastors who have are in prison.
    In other words “hate crime laws” were used to directly target the teaching of truth.
    And one can not read your post without coming to the conclusion that you are taking the side that opposes that same truth… While feigning otherwise.

  • Jason

    I have heard other Christians claim that pastors in Canada have been jailed and that America is next before, just curious if you have any links to reports supporting this claim?
    Besides that, I will just quote 2 sections of your post, an accusation that another poster
    “Take a tone of mistrust and contempt for your confessed brothers in faith, for things you can not prove?”
    and later…
    “And one can not read your post without coming to the conclusion that you are taking the side that opposes that same truth… While feigning otherwise.”
    Makes me sad and frustrated enough that I don’t trust myself to respond gracefully.

  • dopderbeck

    Kevin (#31) — I don’t think we can have a productive conversation in this space, unfortunately. Blessings, brother.

  • David in #28 makes a good point about the intermingling of the gospel with commerce. The idea of Christianity as a source of revenue through specialization of industry (Christian film, Christian music, Christian books, Christian knick-knacks, Christian clothing) opens up a religion to the jurisdiction of the government whose job, under the Constitution, is to legislate commerce in various ways.
    What then is Christian business? Is it religion or commodity or both? And what does that say about our morality and beliefs if they can be bought, sold, and are commodified and traded within a free-market capitalist economy?

  • Kevin McCullough

    Dave, my questions, assertions, and conclusions come from a publicly published piece that you authored.
    I am seeking genuine knowledge of how you square the assertions you’ve come to and the “curiosities” you’ve expressed and opinions you’ve put out there.
    I am genuinely seeking dialogue. If the tone sounded curt it was merely meant demonstrate the way a believer vastly sees the same legislation and comes to a different conclusion.
    It appears to me (and I’m leaving room to be proven wrong) that you are more angered by Christians who are attempting to speak truth. And it seems to me that you ar considering giving a pass and desiring to influence other Christians to do the same to the groups who are actively attempting to undermine the state of marriage.
    Groups like HRC are not mere travelers on the road of life. They are organized, disciplined and are targeting society for reform to the way they see orthodoxy in life.
    Many are nice people who I’ve had open dialogue with. We do disagree however on how society should be shaped.
    But even THEY would not pretend that they don’t wish to remake society into their view of it.
    And it is odd to me that some might argue that we should roll
    over and allow them to.
    Does stewardship mean anything?
    Does engagment?
    Educate me…

  • dopderbeck

    Kevin — one of my problems, as I mention in the post, is that I think the FRC often does not speak truth. They more often speak, it seems to me, at least in the email blasts and such that I receive, the distorted language of politics. They fight fire with fire (I agree with you that the ALCU and such also often do not speak truth). The fire, unfortunately, is rhetoric that both in tone and substance is un-Christlike, misleading, and often simply false, IMHO. The “thought crimes” meme is probably the best example of this that I’ve provided so far. I’m sorry, but the “thought crimes” meme is just ludicrous and betrays an utter lack of comprehension of basic principles of law. This is what angers me.
    Another significant problem I have, and I mentioned this in my post on the Manhattan Declaration, is with the political theology that underlies the FRC’s tactics. You refer in the comment above to efforts to reform society. I think we agree that the the gospel redeems all of society. I know we agree that marriage is a fundamental building block of society and that authentic “marriage” is only in the context of one man and one woman for life. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, even though it’s a dangerous and unpopular thing for someone in my position to say: “marriage” properly defined, I believe, is a sacramental, ontological, and theologically bounded category that
    cannot be redefined to include gay unions, no matter what the civil law says about it.
    But we seem to disagree about the means by which this redemption is accomplished. I largely agree with Stanley Hauerwas that it is accomplished primarily through the life of the called out community of the Church. I don’t think this means Christians should disengage from the worlds of law and politics (obviously, as I’m a law professor), but I do think it requires a very, very careful assessment of how we engage with those worlds. I think the historical critique of Constantianism has significant merit. Whether coming from the political left or right, it’s too easy to trade the cross for the crown. In my judgment, this is exactly what the religious right (and the religious left) in America historically has done.
    And, I think it’s particularly important as the Church to understand the missional moment we now occupy in our culture. Should the definition of “marriage” in the civil law, in terms of missional priorities, occupy the intellectual, emotional, and financial space it currently does for the evangelical Church? Should this be the hallmark of what it means to be a Christian committed to the Evangel? I don’t think so, not by a long shot.
    Again, this doesn’t mean I think we ought to disengage from the issue, but it the overall context of what God is doing in the world and the primary means by which He is doing it (the life of the Church), it seems to me to be a second or third-order concern, at best. Even in terms of how we Christians ought to think about working towards reform in the law, I think, there are issues that are at least equally central to Biblical ethical concerns — particularly the concern for the poor and oppressed in global context — that the religious right, IMHO, often stands in exactly the wrong side on.
    At the very least, I wish the FRC could learn better lessons from Catholic Social Teaching about a holistic social ethic. IMHO, it’s a great shame that evangelicals in the U.S. have only cherry-picked from contemporary CST, which IMHO is among the finest expressions of Christian social theory in the history of the Church.
    I’m delighted, for example, by the recent Evangelical Call for Response to Caritas in Veritate. I don’t see Tony Perkins’ signature there, however. Why? Is it because the Pope is critical of libertarian market policies?
    Well, this is a long response and I hope to do a full post here on JC with more of my thoughts on this. I honestly don’t think you and I need to be at odds about most things. My primary concerns are that “reform” start with us, that our political theology be holistic and robust, that our speech be rigorous and winsome, and that our political efforts be carefully contextualized within the mission of God.