Last week in my post “Gay Will Not Stop with Chic-fil-A” I made the following statement concerning the news coverage to the Gay vs. Chic-fil-A boycott this week:
“Yet, in the gay vs. Chick-Fil-A mania there is an underlying story here that is being categorically ignored. What about intellectual honesty? What about religious liberty? What about the right to choose to openly express one’s lifestyle preferences? What about bullying?”
In case anyone was having difficulty making the connection between this issue and religious liberty, Chicago Mayor and former Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel joined Boston Mayor Thomas Menino in stating that Chic-fil-A did not reflect the values of their respective cities. Chicago Alderman Alco “Joe” Moreno announced that he will “block Chick-fil-A’s effort to build its second Chicago store” in his district on the Northwest Side of the city.
There is plenty of flap about these comments from conservatives and liberals alike criticizing Emanuel, Menino, and Moreno for overstepping the bounds of free speech and religious freedom that are constitutional rights in America; rights that these men as elected officials are sworn to protect. Yet this is who they are, as if there was any question. They believe in tolerance as long as you agree with them. They believe you have the right to free speech as long as you say what they want you to say. They believe in freedom of religion only within the bounds of their religious opinions.
If these are our nation’s leaders, whether you are gay or straight, Chic-fil-A is the least of our problems.
In response, religious leaders in Chicago are asking a pertinent question. If Chic-fil-A is branded as not representing the values of Chicago, then who are the citizens of Chicago that do agree with Chic-fil-A? Are they as unwelcome in Chicago as Chic-fil-A? Will they, like Chic-fil-A, not be tolerated?
If the liberal political ideology openly expressed by Rham Emanuel is allowed to make headway with Chic-fil-A the result will not be more freedom, but more targets. The church will certainly be near the top of the list. Even within the bounds of current legislation concerning hate crimes, there is room to pressure pastors who would offer Biblically based sermons against homosexuality. Under the current legislation a sermon could easily be deemed as hate speech and as such, rhetoric that would encourage a hate crime. Unfortunately that ship sailed about three years ago with little to no public notice. What we now live under is not a set of laws that simply protect gays, but a set of laws that could rob us of free speech and religion. The current debate is not about gay people and chicken, it is about so much more. Ultimately the issue is about what we can say and think. What is happening to Chic-fil-A is about freedom.
Instances of accusing pastor’s sermons as “hate crimes” are already occurring in Europe under similar legislation. Churches in Europe have a rich history of experiencing the pressures that can be placed upon congregations by civic leaders who oppose them. While in Romania in 2009, several pastors who suffered persecution under the communist regime shared with me stories about how churches had to be registered with the government. Congregations were categorically refused permits to make even minor repairs to their facilities, eventually resulting in the structures being condemned. Informants were also placed within the congregations to monitor sermons which resulted in many pastors being imprisoned. We are not Europe, but we are walking the same path in so many ways.
Some may charge my comments as being alarmist. I am trying to sound an alarm! I am also simply trying to be a good student of history and a participant in politics who can draw connections on the implications of decisions made by civic leaders upon my family and country based on a novice understanding of the constitution of the United States of America. We once expected this of all 6th graders. Now we think such knowledge to be controversial and dangerous.
Others may charge my comments as being “un-Christian” or perhaps unnecessary. Religious opinions aside, I assure you that what is happening to Chic-fil-A right now is a much bigger issue than Christianity in America. At its core this is a freedom issue that has deep implications for theist, atheist, Christian, Muslim, Mormon, secularist, and yes – even gay, lesbian, and transgendered people. Ultimately we are all in the same boat on this one. This is not about whether or we eat more chicken, this is about whether or not we value freedom and will uphold our nation’s constitution. Gay or straight, we better pay attention to what is happening with Chic-fil-A.
(If you read this post on Facebook, please also consult the original text at www.FeelMyFaith.com and follow the links that serve to reference the source material for many statements.)