For years I have not accepted numerous invitations from the Gideons to participate in free events celebrating the work of pastors. My lack of positive response has been based in my disagreement with the approach of the Gideons toward women and Catholics. I have raised my thoughts and concerns with them in this regard, but the Gideons don’t need me to endorse their practices, nor should they rely on my views to adjust their program.
The Gideons do good work, as do other organizations that I still would not choose to fraternize with. Thus, if I were asked to render an Invocation for certain occasions, I would respectfully decline.
Could I be wrong? For sure. Being wrong is a right I’ve cherished and nurtured my whole life, and, in a clerical role, being wrong in the above regard, is a right I believe is Constitutionally secured.
But what if I was a photographer, or cake baker, holding the same beliefs and convictions? We all know there are people in the pews whose faith orientations are as strong as any ordained personnel. What then?
Would I have the right to turn down a big pay-day, not in refusing a request for crucial goods and services, but as a photographer asked to capture an event with a camera? If I was a committed pacifist, would I have to render on-location videography service for an Armed Forces banquet? As a lay-person, would I have the right to say, “Hey, have the dinner, and have a ball, just do it without me.”
Perhaps such considerations seem ignorant and backward. Alright. Is it the government’s job to decide who’s moral principles are correct and whose aren’t, especially as it pertains, not to an act of restriction, or segregation, or prohibition, but to the personal choice of non-participation?
I think most solid Christians are quite willing to respect legislation that allows things they don’t personally endorse. What becomes much more problematic are scenarios in which faithful people are asked to professionally and publically provide services for social events they fundamentally don’t want to be associated with. Where do their rights begin and end?
Watching the discussion centered on Indiana, it’s been amusing to see various factions claiming what Jesus would do and say as they castigate those adjudged as ethically inferior. One wonders how many of those who use Jesus actually pray to him. Indeed, the moral tyranny and cyber-bullying openly expressed is shameful, and some would do well to remember that not all who wish to access the right of refusal are Christian. Conscientious objection is often an Inter-Faith affair.
Respect for diversity cuts across many lines, and painting Jesus using only the colors we favor isn’t just spiritually arrogant, it’s sinful idolatry.
In this country, even stupid people have rights. However, let us all take humble caution in determining who the ignorant and wise truly are.