The Indiana in Us All

The signing of Indiana’s bill by Republican Governor Mike Pence giving Christians the legal right to refuse service to gays and lesbians is subversive and riddled with hate-mongering in the guise of protecting “basic religious freedoms.”

Jesus ain’t a hater.

The March 26 signing of Indiana’s bill by Republican Governor Mike Pence giving Christians the legal right to refuse service to gays and lesbians is subversive and riddled with hate-mongering in the guise of protecting “basic religious freedoms.”

Really, Jesus has little to do with religiosity, but that’s for a master class on faith.

The law says the “actions” of gays — a catch-all term if ever I’ve heard one which signals just how out of touch these zealots are — can be refused if individuals or even entire companies feel said gays pose a “substantial burden” on Christians’ religious beliefs.

Hmm. Funny.

As a Christian my religious beliefs are substantially burdened every single time I turn on television and women who look like Russian mail-order whores are advertising payday loan schemes; every time I peruse Internet news sites and some freak who speaks English as a second language is saying the First Lady looks like an ape from “The Planet of the Apes;” every single time I turn on the radio and one of the black stations in the corporate tangle that owns all the media in this country is playing a rap song so offensive to me as a woman I can’t even listen to it. My religious sensibilities are especially substantially burdened every time I walk into the Bro-Kro (that’s the Kroger in my predominantly poor and black neighborhood) and I realize corporations like them can practice all manner of food racism by stocking a double-wide cooler rife with 40 ounce bottles of beer and row after row of sugary sweetened cereal while the produce is past its sell-by date and the bananas are rotting where they sit.

But, unlike the gaggles of aging white men still really running this country and running some of us scared, I do not possess the power or might to inflict my will on the masses or will my wishes into law.

A man named Eric Miller heads a group called Advance America; he and his group lobbied hard — and successfully — for this Indiana bill.

He claims it’s meant to protect Christian wedding industry professionals like bakers, photographers and florists from legal punishment when they “refuse to help plan a homosexual wedding.” It will also protect Christian businesses refusing “to allow a man to use the women’s restroom” and it will shroud churches denying same-sex ceremonies.

Awww. Isn’t that sweet? Miller is so thoughtful, but if he’s worried about men using women’s bathrooms, then his preoccupations are with the wrong deviances.

And isn’t it funny/sad how mammoth and influential the right-wing religious and gun lobbies have become in America?

You think Jesus was packin’?

Pence last week told the New York Times he signed the bill because its timing aligns with growing threats and that “many feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action.”

Read between the gaping lines through codified language and Pence is saying the right-wing Evangelicals are on the ropes and frightened by the encroaching legal rights afforded to the growing numbers of legally married homosexuals in this country as more and more states not only allow but also fully recognize same-sex marriages.

And while the backlash and blowback in Indiana are fresh — Mark Emmert, president of the Indianapolis-based National Collegiate Athletic Association, said he wants the law greatly clarified before the start of the NCAA’s men’s basketball final; openly gay Apple CEO Tim Cook called the law “dangerous;” and Indiana-based Angie’s List halted development of a new $40 million headquarters — similar bills have been hanging around America for more than two decades.

Arkansas coincidentally and not surprisingly also recently adapted a similar version of the Indiana bill. Both, said the Times, are strictly fashioned after federal religious protection laws adapted in 1993, and now 20 states have such bills on their books to steel themselves against the coming tide of legalized same-sex marriage.

This is what’s so wrong with this new Indiana statute: It assumes Christians are hateful, small-minded, frightened bigots and that Christianity is synonymous with segregation, piousness and judgment.

As a Christian I want everyone — especially side eying, critical non-believers and the sexually politicized Queer Mafia — to know that not all Christians hold Indiana’s beliefs as their own.

I just told a neighbor not an hour before this writing that one any given day I have about 10 battles I can fight and that sexuality is rarely one of them.

I am usually fighting a class war, a war on adequate health care, a war against weave-headed black women to finally stop hating on black women with nappy hair, a war for sneakerheads, a war against tofu and vegan anything and the war against stupid, lazy and functionally illiterate college students.

My plate is full.

“Good” Christians who co-opt His name, His visage, His words, even, to gird and do their own ill will — like make laws tethered to religion (theocratic much?) — must think Jesus a soft-skinned punk who did not much like anyone who was not precisely like Him.

Jesus is neither precious nor one to be held closely solely by small groups of homogenous zealots.

And if any of this held true, then Jesus wouldn’t much like any of us; He would send us all away from Him and the ones who think they are on the best speaking terms with Him would be the most surprised by their own excommunications.

I don not portend to speak for Jesus, but I do not think Jesus would like to be used in the name of bigotry, homophobia and for the alleged inalienable rights to the freedom to choose to be inhumane.

Rarely am I waging war because I am a lesbian, regardless of how much outsiders try to force my hand and politicize my sexuality.

Not gonna do it.

With the news of this new Indiana law, my sexuality still isn’t my battering ram.

Today it is my faith.

And I have faith that the good people of the Hoosier State — all those farmers; those basketball-loving, corn-fed boys; those Midwestern, big-hearted folks who can often look scary but who are really good people — will neither be defined by a law wrapped in bigotry nor embarrassed to hail from a state so adamantly determined to so finely define the individual’s right to choose her own humanity.

Why not keep church and state separate and just bow out of imposing the federal government’s will on religious freedoms and leave the choices of discrimination up to the individual?

I mean, individual discrimination has worked so well for America thus far.


CONTACT KATHY Y. WILSON: [email protected]


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