On Thursday, the Arizona State Legislature passed SB 1062, a bill that would permit business owners and religious organizations to discriminate against members of the LGBT community, as long as they can demonstrate that their actions stem from their religious beliefs.
Proponents of the bill call its passage a win for religious freedom. But this confuses me, as I have a hard time coming up with any religion that espouses more discrimination and more exclusion.
Admittedly, I’m not an expert in all religions. But I know a little about my own, which is the same one that the writers of this bill claim to observe. And when I open a Bible and read about the life of Jesus, nowhere do I see the kind of behavior that the state of Arizona wants to protect in the name of religious freedom.
I read about Jesus spending time with and affirming those whom the religious leaders of the day had dismissed — and shutting down those leaders when they react with shock and dismay.
I read about Jesus defending an adulterous woman from religious leaders who wanted to stone her.
I read about Jesus eating with tax collectors — essentially gangsters or mafiosos, people who extorted from commoners who had no choice but to submit to their demands — and even inviting himself over to the home of one.
I read about Jesus having a moment with a woman whom religious leaders had written off as sinful — and telling one of those leaders that his faith paled in comparison to hers.
I read about Jesus declaring that tax collectors and prostitutes will enter the kingdom of heaven before the chief priests and elders of the temple.
I read Jesus’ command to love my neighbor as myself — without qualifications or conditions.
I read all of these stories about how Jesus loved and advocated for those whom religious leaders had shunned. And then I read about the Arizona legislature passing a law, in the name of religious freedom, that allows discrimination against a group of people that many of today’s religious leaders have shunned, and the dissonance is overwhelming.
In light of what I read in my religious text, a bill about the freedom to practice my religion would be about more love, more inclusion, more protection of those who are marginalized. SB 1062 is the opposite of that. It’s completely out of line with the religion that its writers claim to be protecting. So to me, it simply reeks of hypocrisy.