For example, should this bill be signed in to law, a wedding photographer could not be sued for refusing to photograph a gay wedding on religious grounds. This was a news headline in neighboring New Mexico.
On the surface, this bill seems fair - a businesswoman should be able to conduct her business as she sees fit.
But opponents of SB 1062 - or as it is more colloquially known, the "Turn the Gays Away" bill - argue that this bill is so broadly written that it could open the door to widespread discrimination against LGBTQ people. Speaking to a similar piece of legislation that was considered in Kansas, Dana Liebelson of Mother Jones reported that:
The bill, which covered both private businesses and individuals, including government employees, would have barred same-sex couples from suing anyone who denies them food service, hotel rooms, social services, adoption rights, or employment—as long as the person denying the service said he or she had a religious objection to homosexuality.And indeed, Kansas and Arizona are not the only states debating this kind of legislation - similar bills have popped up in the state legislatures of Oregon, South Dakota, Maine, and in my own state of Tennessee. Arizona just happens to be the first state where the bill made it to the governor's desk. Gov. Brewer has not indicated whether or not she would sign the bill into law. She has until Friday to sign it or veto it; however, if she does neither, then the bill will automatically go into law.
We Christians in states like Tennessee, Kansas, and Arizona need to ask ourselves, who is our neighbor? And to that end, I simply want to offer a revised version of one of Jesus' most beloved parables - the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Imagining that the Word Made Flesh, Emmanuel, came to us in the early 21st century, I suspect the story would go something like this:
Jesus was hosting a prayer breakfast for powerful religious and political leaders in the Phoenix community. One young legislator raised his hand to test Jesus. "Jesus, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus responded, "What does your Bible say?" The legislator replied,“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And Jesus said, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live."
But the legislator, wanting to justify himself, said, "Who is my neighbor?" And Jesus said, "There was a man biking around town when a car hit him and knocked him on the side of road. He was severely hurt and unable to move. A pastor of a large church drove by, but he did not stop to help him. Then an elder of another church drove by, but he too did not stop to offer any help."
"But then two women, a couple, saw the man and immediately pulled off the road. One woman checked for a pulse on the man, while the other called for an ambulance. Once the wounded biker was put in the ambulance, the two women followed him to a nearby hospital and into the emergency room. Amidst the chaos of the scene, the two women found the nearest attending nurse. "Nurse," they said as they scribbled words on a piece of scrap paper, "This is our address. Whatever this man owes, you forward us the bill. And here's our phone number; you call us the moment he's able to see visitors."
"Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the biker who was hit?” And the young legislator said, “The ones who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise."
What do you think? Who is our neighbor? And what does it look like to love our neighbor the way that we want to be loved?
Until Next Time,