Yesterday evangelical leaders stated that religious freedom is their top priority. They claimed that they have lost their religious freedom now that business owners are required to provide a cake for same-sex weddings, public schools are restricted from mandating prayer, and transgender people are allowed to use the restroom.
“The next president is going to be very vital … in freeing up your religion, freeing up your thoughts. You really don’t have religious freedom.” — Donald Trump to Evangelical Leaders in New York yesterday
It breaks my heart that the Jesus who evangelicals claim would refuse to bake a cake for a gay wedding, would demand that students pray to him, and would restrict transgender people from the bathroom they feel comfortable using.
Evangelicals have done two things. First they have decided that their set of rules are a perfect understanding of Jesus. Yet, Jesus wasn’t into a set of rules! He summed up the entire law by “love others – even your enemy!” Second they have decided that their mission from God is to foist their set of rules on everyone else — that evangelism means making everyone else live like evangelicals see fit.
Evangelism should be about saying, “I really think that I have found bread (real and spiritual bread) over here – come see what you think and have as much as you’d like!”
Businesses can’t decide who they will serve and who they won’t. What if every grocery store in a 200 mile radius from your home decided they wouldn’t serve Jews or Muslims or Christians? Its untenable – businesses that serve the public have to serve everyone. Otherwise religious freedom really is at stake!
Students can’t be forced to pray. But what evangelicals want is for students to be forced to listen to them pray. Yet, Jesus said not to pray out loud in the streets and market places. Pray in your hearts – Jesus doesn’t want you to make a show of your prayers. Anyone can pray from their heart anywhere they want. No one can ever stop you. But religious freedom really is at stake if you force students to listen to you pray!
Why on earth are you afraid of trans-gendered people using the bathroom in the stall next to you? What on earth do you think is going to happen? I doubt you are even going to know that they are trans-gendered. But what if you think they might be? Well, when you meet up at the sink to wash your hands, give them a smile and say, “Hi! Isn’t it a nice day?” Stop being afraid of people Jesus loves!
Finally, Trump? Really? Your hero is a guy whose life and words have no semblance of the sacrificial life of a follower of Jesus. This is your hero? Your salvation? This is who God has sent to give you religious freedom? Does that sound like a God-thing to you?
Here’s the bottom line…
Evangelical leaders, you are making my faith in Jesus look ridiculous. You are scaring away reasonable people who want to see what Jesus is all about. You are scaring away my children who loved Jesus, but don’t want to be associated with his followers much any more. Stop worshiping a set of rules that you have made for yourselves and now seek to foist on others.
Instead seek to love everyone (to put their concerns above your own) just as Jesus taught us to do, then you will stop being so afraid of losing the very freedom that you want to take away from others.
Check out April’s Books, Disorderly Bible Studies, for group and individual study.