This is what we've been worrying about . . .
Worldnetdaily is reporting today that the state of Illinois has passed a law that "adds 'sexual orientation' to the state law that bars discrimination based on race, religion and similar traits in areas such as jobs and housing." Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich says:
This legislation sends a clear message that we will not allow our citizens to be discriminated against," Blagojevich said in a statement.
What we're doing today is older than scripture: Love thy neighbor," the governor told the audience yesterday, according to the Associated Press. "It's what Jesus said when he gave his Sermon on the Mount: 'Do unto others what you would have others do unto you."'
Per WND, "the bill's sponsor, state Sen. Carol Ronen, D-Chicago, is on record stating it should be applied
to churches, meaning they would not be allowed, for example, to reject
a job applicant who practices homosexual behavior." Ronen goes on to say:
If that is their goal, to discriminate against gay people, this law wouldn't allow them to do that. But I don't believe that's what the Catholic Church wants or stands for.
Peter LaBarbera, Executive Director of the Ilinois Family Institute quotes the Illinois law firm of Ungaretti and Harris as follows:
"While many such municipal prohibitions on sexual orientation discrimination expressly exempt religious organizations from their coverage, the new amendment to Illinois' Human Rights Act does not."
I have never been the most politically motivated Christian and have even criticized Christians whom I believe put too much faith in government and legislation to curtail the sinful nature. I do think the church needs to "do something" about homosexuality and other issues, but have leaned much more to the Ed Dobson way of doing things than the James Dobson way of doing things. When he was a big cheese in the Moral Majority Ed Dobson worked his tail off seeking to promote legislation that would combat the spread of homosexuality. After being Blinded by Might, he changed his approach and decided to do something about homosexuality by focusing on the gospel and ministering to AIDS patients.
So, while I have always leaned very heavily toward the Ed Dobson side of things, James Dobson has legitimate concerns. The homosexual lobby portrays itself as a struggling for civil rights. Yet, legislation like this is what leads many of us to view the homosexual agenda as an imperialistic and evangelistic agenda. Back in November, I commented on an article in the Village Voice by Rick Perlstein where he said that evangelicals were making much ado about nothing with regard to "a certain bill Senator Edward M. Kennedy wishes to pass, with the intention of providing federal penalties to thugs who beat up people for reasons of sexual orientation, is actually an opening wedge to anti-Christian pogroms." As Rick requested, I read the bill for myself and found that he had a point. At least in my reading of the bill, I didn't see anything that would lead me to believe that "anti-Christian pogroms" would result from the passage of this bill. I was thrilled when Rick was kind enough to leave a gracious comment on that post.
But in that post I also pointed out that we evangelicals are understandably antsy about the trajectory of ideas, attitudes and even legislation in our country that is infringing on our rights to practice our faith. And while I want to extend every ounce of grace and every olive branch I can to the homosexual community, the Village Voice, Rick Perlstein and others who differ with us, I can't help but see this legislation as another step down a slippery slope.
In 1978, Chuck McIlhenny, pastor of the First Orthodox Presbyterian Church in San Francisco, dismissed his church organist when it became known that the organist was a practicing homosexual. The organist sued and lost. Yet, in the meantime, Chuck and his family have received numerous death threats, his home and church have been vandalized many times and both home and church have been firebombed. I once met one of his sons who told the story of the night the house was firebombed. He was a small child when it happened and it was his room that was firebombed. For some reason he wasn't in his room at the time or he may have been killed. The upshot of it is that this kind of stuff went on for years, yet no one was ever prosecuted for this.
I realize that there have been self-professed Christians (I use the term "self-professed" to accentuate the fact that I have my doubts that these are authentic Christians) who have committed murder and vandalism and other acts of hate against homosexuals and abortion providers. However, for the most part, the evangelical church has decried such violence. By and large most evangelical Christians were horrified at the actions of Paul Hill and supported the death penalty for him. Most, sad to say not all, evangelical Christians abhor and repudiate the violence of professing Christians against other groups, yet we wonder where the outcry is against violence against us.
I offer these examples not to stir the pot, nor to paint with a broad brush that says that all homosexuals pursue their agenda with violence. I am quite sure that most homosexuals are peace loving, want to live quiet lives and abhor violence as much as their opponents. Yet, its this trajectory of ideas, attitudes and legislation that worries us the most, and the Illinois legislation adds to our alarm.
In my church we would not hire a heterosexual man or woman involved in an adulterous relationship for a staff position. They would be disqualified because such a lifestyle conflicts with the tenets of our faith. For similar reasons we would not hire a practicing homosexual. Yes, we discriminate, but it is not based on sexual orientation, it is based upon fidelity to, or lack of fidelity to the tenets of our faith.
So, we evangelicals see things like this Illinois legislation and we wonder. If this becomes widespread will we be able to apply our faith to some matters but not others? Or, could the application of such a law be expanded so that we would be forced to hire even adulterous heterosexuals who may claim that they are oriented toward adultery?
The trajectory of ideas, attitudes and legislation seems to be heading that way and we are rightly alarmed.
Update: Josh Claybourn has written on this at In the Agora.