Standing for Equality
This blog posting moves from describing mystical states of consciousness to embodying engaged mysticism in dealing with issues of the so called Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which has created such a firestorm in Indiana. Similar laws are being considered in 12 states.
It is crucial that mystical and spiritually oriented people not simply sit back and bask in the beautiful presence of the Divine but also protect all of her creatures.
This act will allow business to discriminate against certain customers and groups based on the business owner’s religious beliefs. For example, businesses and retail outlets can refuse to hire or serve gay people and /or couples. Supporters deny the intent to discriminate but their blindness to the consequences of this bill indicates that their sincerity or their competence is in question. Most of the discussion about this coming from politicians is a perfect example of Orwellian doublespeak.
Many, many private citizens in Indiana have spoken out against this bill and are doing a terrific job. Numerous businesses have also expressed their opposition including Angie’s List, Apple, Eli-Lily, the NAACP, NBA, Salesforce and YELP. And these people need our support.
It is important to point out that in America citizens have always had the right to freedom of religion. There is no need to restore something that still exists and has never been taken away. This bill promotes taking religious belief from the private sector into discriminating in the public domain. Once people choose, of their own free will, to open a business in what we so blithely refer to as the “free market” they cannot discriminate. All business need to abide by the same laws. These sorts of laws set up a ‘defacto’ state-sponsored religion by granting special favors for certain popular religious groups. My personal commitment to religious pluralism does not include any form of discrimination cloaked in religious piety. If any of God’s children are excluded from any corner of the public arena, we are all excluded. If we are not all safe none of us is safe. The right to discriminate against gay people leads to the right to discriminate against interracial couples, or against those who are divorced or live different lives. It leads directly to the right to discriminate against people of different faiths. It has the potential to undo over fifty years of progress in civil rights legislation. Karl Jung defined the demonic as that which pretends to be religious but is not.
The law originally passed and encountered a tornado of opposition. As of Friday the Indiana State Legislature has passed a new law claiming to have “fixed” the original law. Time will tell if this is nothing but usual political smoke and mirrors. And the next state up for this Arkansas.
In light of this I have sent the following letter to the Governor of Indiana.
April 5, 2015
Dear Governor Pence
I am a 67 year old, heterosexual male, father of four sons and grandfather of five living in Massachusetts. I am writing to you about the so called “Restoration of Religious Freedom Act.” It is vital to me that all citizens of our great and wonderful country have total equal access to all the resources and services available.
As long as this law or anything remotely resembling it is present in your state I will not visit, buy anything produced there or do business with any company headquartered there. In addition, as a resident of Massachusetts, and an avid Patriot fan, I will not attend or watch on television any game involving any team from Indiana. My conscience and spiritual commitments do not allow me to support any form of discrimination.
The claim that this law will not lead to a wide array of discriminatory practices is a perfect example of Orwellian doublespeak. This claim implies that those who support the bill are either functioning with questionable motivations or simply do not understand the obvious consequences of their actions and are thus of questionable competency. This law needs to be eliminated. The only way this law can be fixed is by total and complete revocation.
Thank you for reading this.
Finally, I will close from the very famous quote from a Lutheran pastor in Germany at the end of the Second World War. Martin Niemoeller was anti-Semitic prior to the war but was imprisoned from 1937-45 and then when it was over he spoke these words:
First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out-
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the communists
and I did not speak out-
because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the trade
unionists and I did not speak out-
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me-
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.
It is my plan to continually watch the developments of this issue. I see this as a part of the spiritual practice on the engaged mystic path.