We’ve all heard about sore losers.
But sore winners?
Kirsten Powers, who writes for USA Today and regularly appears as a guest commentator on FOX News, penned a provocative column yesterday lamenting the fallout from Indiana’s contentious religious freedom debate.
Kirsten and I don’t see eye to eye on everything, including the definition of marriage, but I’m grateful for the candor and honesty with which she writes. In fact, she’s often a breath of fresh air. She points out hypocrisy (on both sides) when she sees it.
Case in point, from her latest USA Today column titled “Gay Marriage Debate’s Sore Winners,” Kirsten writes about those who successfully defeated Indiana’s original religious freedom bill last week:
After decades of fighting for gay rights, those who should be guzzling the bubbly are muzzling the vanquished … It’s hard for the people who call themselves liberals (while acting like anything but) to top their past bullying and intolerance of those who won’t fall in line with their worldview. Yet, with the Indiana religious freedom bill, they pulled it off.
Kirsten went on to illustrate her point by telling the sad story of Memories Pizzeria, a locally owned restaurant in Walkerton, Indiana. Crystal O’Connor is the proprietor who supported the original legislation. Her business became the target of numerous threats after she said that her religious convictions would prohibit her from catering a same-sex wedding reception. Violent threats followed. In her column, Kirsten points out how ludicrous the activists’ reaction to Mrs. O’Connor’s actions were:
How many gay people had asked to have their wedding catered by this small-town pizza joint? None. What number of gay people had been denied a slice by Mrs. O’Connor? Zero. In fact, the owners told the reporter that they would never refuse to serve a gay customer who came to the restaurant to eat. The wrath of gay rights supporters rained down on Memories Pizza because Mrs. O’Connor committed a thought crime. She discriminated against nobody, but thinks the “wrong” thing about same-sex marriage and she said it out loud.
Kirsten Powers isn’t alone in her incredulity and in her call for civility. Courtney Hoffman, a woman who identifies as being a lesbian, was one of the many individuals who made a financial donation to the pizzeria after it was forced to close. “As a member of the gay community,” she wrote, “I would like to apologize for the mean spirited attacks on you and your business.”
To date, more than $800,000 has been donated to a fund that was set up to help Mrs. O’Connor and the staff at Memories Pizzeria.
Of course, the fallout extends well beyond pizza and politics.
It was reported yesterday that Curt Smith, who heads up the Indiana Family Institute associated with Focus on the Family and had been working for the prestigious Indiana law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, had resigned his post at the firm.
Why did he suddenly leave the firm?
A spokesperson for the Taft law firm suggested they employ a “principle of inclusiveness” – and apparently, Mr. Smith’s support of the original Indiana RFRA makes him philosophically incompatible with the organization’s ideological standards.
In other words, Taft wants to welcome and include “everyone,” with the exception of Curt Smith and Christians like him.
Fortunately, reasonable and common sense voices like Kirsten and Ms. Hoffman are beginning to rise and resonate.
In fact, Jonathan Merritt, who writes for the Religion News Service and who originally opposed the Indiana law, is having second thoughts: “I’ve opposed the most recent state-level RFRA’s,” he recently wrote, “but the brashness of some liberals lends credibility to claims that religious liberties are being threatened.”
To be sure, we’re entering a new era in American life, where so many of our long-held traditions are coming under increased scrutiny. What was once considered upright and moral is now considered offensive and objectionable. As the Wall Street Journal editorialized last week, “The paradox is that even as America has become more tolerant of gays, many activists and liberals have become ever-more intolerant of anyone who might hold more traditional cultural or religious views.”
To our friends who oppose these types of efforts to protect religious freedom, do I understand you clearly that from your perspective there’s no room to exercise our moral and religious convictions?
From your perspective, is there no acceptable means by which to accommodate our deeply held religious beliefs?
Now, let me ask you:
Is this topic being discussed in your home, small group or church circle? If so, what are you hearing and how are you feeling about it all?