Standing under the Statehouse dome, I feel something sacred and invisible in the spaces beneath the arches and in between the crowds of people cloaked in sleek dark suits bustling around.
I know that this place often fails to live up to what it is supposed to be. Throughout history and even just this week this building has repeatedly been abused as a space to codify hatred and injustice into the fabric of our society. Not everyone gets their equal say here and not everyone feels like they belong here. But like a true believer, I renew my faith every time I pass through the sturdy doors. When threats to the idea this place stands for arise, I think we have a duty to take a stand against them.I can’t be at the Statehouse tomorrow to express my disgust with the so-called “religious freedom bill” (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) but nonetheless I wanted to speak up about it.
The right to practice one’s religion freely doesn’t mean the right to deny the dignity of one’s neighbors and customers because you disagree with how they look, where they come from, the personal healthcare choices they make, or who they want to marry. It is not an unjust burden to tolerate and respect someone you disagree with or even dislike, even in your own place of business.
The vast majority of those pushing the RFRA are white Christians. As a group, we have historically and still do enjoy the protection of the law to a fuller extent than other groups. The fact that other groups who have been excluded are gaining long overdue acceptance does not mean Christians’ rights are being attacked.
The church and the Statehouse alike, in theory, both stand for something bigger than ourselves. They stand for shared space, shared humanity, and ultimately, for moving towards a more just reality for everyone. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act ultimately stands in opposition to all of these things to which we claim to aspire.