HB 1523 is discriminatory in that it singles out a select group of people, and it is contradictory to legislative claims that it protects the religious rights of Christians. The religious right of a Christian is to love God and his fellow man, and HB 1523 protects neither of those rights. The bill is little more than a cynical and biased shell game enacted by individuals with selective Christian beliefs. The idea that such a bill could surface in what a growing number of Mississippians were beginning to hope and believe was an enlightened 21st Century shows that cynicism and bigotry in the state legislature and the state as a whole is alive and well.
If Mississippi legislators truly intended to protect the religious rights of Christians against the participatory sin of doing business with sinners, why didn’t they include adultery, murder, theft, bearing false witness, lying, cursing, coveting, breaking civil laws, laziness, divorce and deceit in the bill? Could it be that some of those sins hit too close to home and are therefore exclusionary sins? Legislators can quote the Bible and talk about religious rights all they want, but unlike the Mississippi legislature, the Bible does not single out homosexuality as the only sin. If it did, HB 1523 might have some merit, but it does not. Sin is sin; therefore, all sin falls short of the glory of God. How Christian is it to place hatred of sin above love for the sinner? Shouldn’t Christians, even Christian legislators, focus on love and witnessing and leave God to focus on sin and judging?
HB 1523 promotes a perpetual state of conservative self-centered sameness; the idea that everyone should be cut from the same template as the writer of the bill and those it claims to represent. This does not mean the writer or supporters of this bill are bad or evil people; they simply dance a full beat off center, fearful of the changing world around them. They live in a continuous state of self-flagellation of their human condition powerless to reason beyond their inherited convictions of what is right and wrong. Their soap box of fanatical righteousness is nurtured by an astute conviction that their beliefs, even when fractional, are beyond reproach as they go about the business of molding the world in their image. They embrace their phobias as a covetous crusade for their definition of the norm which often disqualifies their understanding of reasonable discourse. Their belief system is frequently fragmented and soft core, leaving them prone to react angrily even violently when cornered, confused, or contradicted. They live in constant fear of becoming irrelevant, and it is that fear that ushers them ever closer to irrelevance.
Although Mississippi’s past speaks volumes about its intolerance, Mississippi in the 21st Century is better than this! Shel Silverstein said we should look at one another only if we first turn out the lights. With no light to reflect the pigment of our skin or the brother or sister we choose to stand at our side, we are all the same. It is time we turn out the lights in Mississippi and see our brothers and sisters with our hearts. It is time we turn on the light in our hearts, and see each other through God’s eyes. It is through that light that we can conquer the intolerant fear that once again threatens our great state. HB 1523 is a serpent that should be crushed under the heel of Mississippians unified in supporting the humanity of all people, and in due time, it will be. No one outside the state will believe this, but Mississippi is better than HB 1523!
©Jack Linton, April 5, 2016