Who Needs Protection From Discrimination -- Gays or Christians?

Julie Marsh
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julie marshThe Memphis city council is considering an ordinance that would prohibit discrimination among city employees on the basis of sexual orientation. If the ordinance passes, a city employee's or employment candidate's sexual orientation could not be used as a factor when making hiring, firing, or promotion decisions. Additionally, the ordinance would prohibit such discrimination in private organizations that do business with the city in any way, including the use of city facilities.

I'll give you three guesses which group is crying foul, and the first two don't count.

Yep, it's those kind, loving, compassionate Christians again, moaning that if they have to allow the gays in their midst, it constitutes discrimination -- against them.

Christian business owners and church leaders maintain that the anti-discrimination ordinance will force them to accept gay employees. In their view, the ordinance makes it impossible for them to work with the city without "violat[ing] [their] own conscience."

Let me understand this correctly: Christians believe that homosexuality is wrong. Because homosexuality is wrong, it's acceptable for Christians to treat gays differently. And homosexuality is wrong because the Bible says so, and the Bible is the ultimate source of moral authority for Christians.

On that seemingly benign basis alone, I disagree. There's a lot of really horrific moral judgments in the Bible. To use such a fallible and inconsistent manual as the primary basis for morality is inherently flawed. It's even more mind-boggling to consider how Christians view themselves as good while endorsing and practicing hateful behavior.

But opponents to the Memphis ordinance have taken this discussion in truly ridiculous directions, asking whether "biological men [would be] using women’s bathrooms" and raising questions like "what if a Christian childcare facility is forced to hire a man dressed like a woman?" One council member insisted the ordinance wasn't necessary because "how do I know you are [gay] unless you're trying to flaunt it in my face?"

"Flaunt it in my face" -- like how Christians wear crosses around their necks? Or how married men and women wear wedding rings and display photos of their families on their desks?

These are the same tired arguments trotted out by those who oppose the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. They belie a deep-seated fear of the unknown, and unfounded hostile assumptions about those whom they perceive as fundamentally different.

Christians in Memphis have demonstrated documented hostility toward gays as recently as last month. Bellevue Baptist Church -- whose pastor raised objections to the anti-discrimination ordinance in the recent city council meeting -- refused to allow a softball team coached by a lesbian to play in their church league.

Some Christians will continue to view homosexuality as a sin; passing a law won't change that. Some Christians won't ever be able to share a softball field with gay players; passing a law won't change that either. But city tax dollars -- which political conservatives (often Christians) so ardently protect -- shouldn't be used in support of any organization that views discrimination as a tool for maintaining their own narrowly defined status quo.

 

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