Over the weekend the Wall Street Journal carried an op-ed piece from a Georgia legislator regarding the governor’s recent veto of a religious freedom bill. In it, William Ligon asks, “Why are businesses and sports leagues suddenly championing leftist ideologies that oppose not only religious liberty but even legislation that protects the safety of women and children in restrooms?” He writes it off to political correctness run amok, but I think it is much deeper.
Throughout the country, prosecuting offices on the state and local level are forming “social justice units.” These are prosecutors whose job it is is to look for crimes that are somehow disproportionate based on race, etc. One of the key tactics is to define an “under-served neighborhood,” and then target businesses in those neighborhoods for criminal prosecution for various code violations that in other areas might merely result in administrative action of even just inspector driven “fixit tickets.” It is a fascinating phenomena, penalizing businesses in the neighborhoods that most needs jobs and economic activity, thus stifling job creation and other economic activity. This also makes me ask the question, “Is not unequal application of the law of itself discriminatory?” Can you fix social discrimination by discriminating?
It is not just the social pressure of political correctness that has business lining up against religious freedom – it’s the threat of economic harm represented by this kind of law enforcement.
This is really terrifying stuff. It is tempting to rail against such police state tactics. These events drive my thoughts to memories of my 1989 visit to the People’s Republic of China and my 1991 visit to the Soviet Union. It would be easy to tell story after story about the chilling atmosphere of those police states. But just when I get wound up on that my thoughts inevitably turn elsewhere.
The most compelling images I hold of those visits are images of faith, sometimes clandestine, sometimes exposing themselves at great risk. Despite the best efforts of those powerful nations, religion could not be killed. Today the Soviet Union is gone from the map, replaced by a state nearly as authoritative but that grants religious freedom. China is liberalizing, albeit slowly. Religion will not be contained, controlled or destroyed. It is more powerful than the most powerful police state.
Without major changes in policy direction, social justice prosecutions of Christian owned businesses will move from the headline grabbing phenomena they are today to commonplace. Churches may well find themselves in the same dilemma. It is my fervent prayer that those major changes in policy direction will happen. I will support and aide earnestly those that fight for those major changes and against these injustices in the name of justice.
But I do not fear a future in which God does not grant my prayer. I have seen too much. No matter what happens faith will survive in this nation and stick its head up like the first crocus peeking though the spring melt. I do not fear for the Lord in My Shepherd.