Religion and Government: Let People Choose!

Days ago, Mississippi(where I live) passed HB 1523, otherwise dubbed the “religious freedom” bill. There is something I have to share with you: even though I “do politics”, I hate days after big, controversial legislation is passed. Why? Because no matter if the legislation is good, bad, or inconsequential, uninformed people who normally do not care a wit about politics feel the need to comment. These uninformed people come in from all sides of the argument and tend to just make everything worse. If you are not going to bother informing yourselves politically on a regular basis, no matter your ideology, please do everyone a favor and shut up before your crude “bull in a china shop” argument breaks all of the finely crafted arguments from people on the same side as you.

This week, however, highlighted the complex relationship of religion and government. For centuries, religion and government have assumed many different roles in how they treat one another. Christian nations of old and modern Middle Eastern countries have employed theocracies. Soviet Russia and China have tried to displace traditional religion completely and arguably attempted to make government the people’s religion. Whereas in America, the ideal is that there will be complete separation of church and state, each institution respecting the other. The Founding Fathers hoped by creating the Constitution, that they had designed a system where government could govern and religion could worship apart from each other.

Although I believe our Founding Father’s did their best to provide us a separate and apart system, they (inevitably) failed due to human nature. Humans are simple and overbearing by nature, which is both why religion and government must be separate from one another and why they are so often not kept separate. People corrupt the system. People try to use government as an ATM machine at the expense of others livelihood, they try to use it as a safety net with the resources of all, and they try to use it as they try to use it as the moral arbiter of all with the power of regulation. People are simple. Instead of allowing one man to live a life you may disagree with, they decide they want to force you to bend to them. It makes people’s lives a lot simpler when they do not have to deal with people who make choices that make them uncomfortable, even if those choices hardly affect them or are within the rights of the individual to deny to another.

As mentioned before, we have seen this countless of times repeat itself over the course of human history. Modern Middle Eastern nations are corrupted by religion in government and force others to live certain ways, just as old Christian nations were in the Middle Ages. Soviet Russia was corrupted by government usurping religion in the 20th century and similarly forced people to live in certain ways. People twist government to force others to live this way or that, and thereby pervert the entire institution.

That is not what government should be. Government should provide a minimum standard someone must live up to that protects people’s life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. Outside of that standard, people should be allowed to live their life without government interference. If someone else’s action does not potentially affect your life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness, then the government has no right to regulate it. That means gay marriage, even though I personally disagree with it as a lifestyle, should be legal. The denial of service for any reason, if there is an alternative option, should be legal even if I disagree with the reason. The government’s purpose is to protect the people, not to make the people feel comfortable. It should not force consenting adults who can decide their own life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness to be married or not be married, just as it should not force an individual to sell or to buy. I would not force a Jewish baker to sell a cake to a Nazi anymore than I would force a Christian baker with moral reservations sell a cake to a same-sex couple engaged to be married.

I am a Christian, and have many Christian friends. Christians for too long have been using government as a moral prop for others when government in reality should only be a body to protect individual rights. If we, the church, attempt to use government as we have in the past to legislate others, when the secular government has power in hand, how are we to defend ourselves when the government attempts to legislate us as they are now?

If you disagree with someone’s moral choices as a Christian, I beg of you, do not use government as a way to force others to live the life you want them to live. Instead, as Jesus did, approach them with love and with reason. Let the Gospel do its job. It does not need the government. God gave us a choice to believe, give others a chance to act on belief.

I am also an American citizen. If you disagree with someone’s moral choices as a citizen, I beg of you, do not use government as a way to force others to live the life you want them to live. Consider how it would feel if the group you are trying to regulate had the power to impose restrictions on you.

For too long, people of all creeds and credences have been using government as a way of lazily forcing others to live the life they want them to. This is wrong. People should be allowed to make choices, not forced into them. Therefore, I support freedom bills across the nation that allow people to deny service for any reason as long as there is an alternative for the person seeking out service. I support people’s right to choose within the limits of life and liberty. If you try to take that away, using government or not, you are just a stones throw away from protecting murderers who take lives and slave owners who take liberties.