The right to worship and practice your faith freely is a fundamental American value. But, unfortunately, laws designed to protect the rights of religious minorities are now being used in an attempt to legalize discrimination against LGBTQ people. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) came about after two Native Americans were fired from their jobs for using peyote in a time-honored ceremony. This violated their rights to practice their religion without government interference, so a law was passed to protect these rights.
In the last few years, however, Christians—the majority faith in the United States— have been using RFRA, and similar measures passed at the state level, to argue for their rights to refuse service to same-sex couples and other people that they don’t approve of. While we may be sympathetic with people who are seeking to follow their conscience, we also are very aware of the dangers of allowing discrimination in public businesses and government offices. We know that this is a sinful, racist, and destructive part of American history.
As part of your work to expand your inclusion, learn more about religious liberty and the ways in which it can be preserved while still protecting the rights of people of all religions, sexual orientations, and gender identities. CLGS has a curriculum that you can use individually or with groups in your congregation to learn more about this important topic. Visit www.religiouslibertyforall.org and check out the curriculum page to engage this material.
Then, consider how you and your congregation might take action on this topic. Investigate whether there are bills pending in your state legislature and join with other faith leaders to stand against anything that legalizes discrimination. The voices of people of faith have been instrumental in turning back these destructive bills in several states.
To read the 52 Ways to Increase Your Welcome series, please click here.