On February 20th the Arizona legislature passed a controversial bill which discriminates against homosexuals. The law, among other things, expands the state's definition of the exercise of religion to include both the practice and observance of religion. It also expands those protected under the state's free-exercise-of-religion law to include "any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, religious assembly or institution or other business organization." It says that in order to assert a free-exercise-of-religion defense, the individual, business or church must establish that its action is motivated by a religious belief, that the belief is sincerely held and that the belief is substantially burdened.
The Arizona legislature has decided to discriminate against homosexuals rather than discriminate against those with a sincerely held religious belief that homosexuality is wrong. That is the crux of the matter here. Someone is going to be discriminated against. Arizona has decided that it is right to discriminate against homosexuals and wrong to discriminate against folks with a sincerely held religious belief which classifies homosexuality as a affliction on society.
There is a way to avoid codifying discrimination into the civil code; anarchy. Every law discriminates against someone and/or something. Laws against murder discriminate against those who murder in favor of the victims of murder. Laws against theft discriminate against thieves in favor of property owners. Laws against guns discriminate against gun owners in favor of those who wish to restrict gun ownership. To avoid discrimination by government action there would have to be a ban on government action, and that is called anarchy.
The question involved in this discussion is not whether the state of Arizona is going to discriminate. The question is whether there is going to be a state of Arizona. Or a less drastic approach would be to determine by what standard a state should decide against what to discriminate.
The heritage of Arizona, by its connection to the charter of the U. S., The Declaration of independence, is decidedly Christian. There is certainly a move in the United States to divorce itself from its heritage. That would require an over throw of the government by anti-Christian forces. That could be done peacefully of course. But, until the charter, The Declaration of independence, and the by-laws, the Constitution, are replaced the legal standing of the United States is still Christian in its character.
It is not then unreasonable to believe that the laws of the land should be governed by the principles of Christianity. No one has stated it as clearly as the late Charles Hodge of Princeton;
“The proposition that the United States of America are a Christian and Protestant nation, is not so much the assertion of a principle as the statement of a fact. That fact is not simply that the great majority of the people are Christians and Protestants, but that the organic life, the institutions, laws, and official action of the government, whether that action be legislative, judicial, or executive, is, and of right should be, and in fact must be, in accordance with the principles of Protestant Christianity...
When Protestant Christians came to this country they...formed themselves as Christians into municipal and state organizations...They declared Christianity to be part of the common law of the land. In the process of time thousands have come among us, who are neither Protestants nor Christians. Some are papists, some Jews, some infidels, and some atheists. All are welcomed; all are admitted to equal rights and privileges. All are allowed to acquire property, and to vote in every election, made eligible to all offices, and invested with equal influence in all public affairs. All are allowed to worship as they please, or not to worship at all, if they see fit. No man is molested for his religion or for his want of religion. No man is required to profess any form of faith, or to join any religious association. More than this cannot reasonably be demanded. More, however, is demanded. The infidel demands that the government should be conducted on the principle that Christianity is false. The atheist demands that it should be conducted on the assumption that there is no God, and the positivist on the principle that men are not free agents. The sufficient answer to all this is that it cannot possibly be done.”
As historian E. R. Norman puts it, “Pluralism is the word society employs during the transition from one orthodoxy to another.” The modern humanist in the United States is demanding pluralism in order to change the society in the United States from a Christian orthodoxy to a humanist orthodoxy. The Arizona legislature is simply standing in the gap against the attempted over throw of the United States government.
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