A few days ago, the New Mexico Supreme Court unanimously ruled that two Christian photographers who declined to photograph a same-sex union violated the state’s Human Rights Act.
Justice Richard C. Bosson, at the end of his specially concurring opinion, wrote these two paragraphs…
On a larger scale, this case provokes reflection on what this nation is all about, its promise of fairness, liberty, equality of opportunity, and justice. At its heart, this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others. A multicultural, pluralistic society, one of our nation’s strengths, demands no less. The Huguenins are free to think, to say, to believe, as they wish; they may pray to the God of their choice and follow those commandments in their personal lives wherever they lead. The Constitution protects the Huguenins in that respect and much more. But there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life.
In the smaller, more focused world of the marketplace, of commerce, of public accommodation, the Huguenins have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different. That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people. That sense of respect we owe others, whether or not we believe as they do, illuminates this country, setting it apart from the discord that afflicts much of the rest of the world. In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship. I therefore concur.
An angel of the Lord stood over them and the glory of the Lord shone round them. They were terrified, but the angel said, “Do not be afraid. Look, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”
That was my first public speaking engagement. For thirty years I’ve lived with the knowledge that every subsequent public speaking attempt could never surpass that performance and those decades of self-induced pressure etched the final message of the heavenly hosts in my memory.
And all at once with the angel there was a great throng of the hosts of heaven, praising God with the words: Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace for those he favours.
Curiosity… While reading page after page of outrage about the New Mexico decision by right-wing Christian talking heads and commenters this weekend, I thought about those words again. “…and on earth peace to those he favours”
The words actually make no sense whatsoever if attributed to heavenly heralds trumpeting god’s good news. A righteous god wouldn’t lace a message of peace with all the excuses any sensible extremist would ever need to initiate or sustain bigotry and a biased god who plans to raise up only believers, wouldn’t expect his chosen to live in peace while surrounded by the tormented un-chosen multitudes. But, if they are the words of men attempting to give credence to a biased culture or if they are the offering of prejudiced leaders to be used as a tool to control with fear and hatred, they make perfect sense.
Two millennium of practice show how those he favours sow little more than suffering and sorrow over our planet. This weekend’s blathering by the fundamentalists show the long reach of those twisted words. Gerrymandering, governmental obstruction, voter suppression, denying science and denigrating anyone that doesn’t fit into a narrow strip of reality are all examples of the same motivation as the inquisition’s rack and stake. I’m sure the slave owners firing cannons on Ft Sumter and political leaders using fire hoses on civil rights marchers believed that they were part of those he favours.
The eloquent words of Justice Bosson show how acutely aware our Christian founders were of the damage those he favours would do to this country.