This past week we celebrated the many freedoms Americans enjoy. We remembered those who fought and continue to fight for liberty and justice for all.  I’ve traveled the world enough to know, that despite our troubles the U.S. system of justice and democracy is the envy of the world. That’s why I’m deeply concerned about rise of so-called “religious liberty.”

There are two broad areas where the rise of “religious liberty” concern me.  First is that I believe “religious liberty” is nothing more than bigotry masquerading as religion.  It is a form of bigotry that largely targets the LGBTQ community. It goes like this: “I disagree with who you are, even though your identity poses no actual threat to me or to anyone; I claim religion as my excuse for not treating you as an equal.”

The second is the arbitrariness in which the idea is applied.  At our southern boarder Christians, who believe in the Bible’s command to help the stranger, are being prosecuted for leaving water in the dessert to save lives.  In these court cases religious convictions are of no consequence.  Yet Hobby Lobby doesn’t have to provide health care to workers based on “religious liberty”.  The rights of no-cakes-for-gays bakers or florists to discriminate is OK based on “religious liberty”.

Everyone is at liberty to have bigoted ideas, but we should not be free to act on those ideas in the public square. That’s not how America is supposed to work. More importantly, it’s contrary to the mission and values of Jesus who turned no one away. “The Samaritan woman said to Jesus, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” – John 4:9