Using Jesus to Score Political Points: Arizona Religious Freedom Bill Edition

I’m a pretty easy going guy, but I have two main pet peeves:

1) People who leave their shopping carts rolling around in the parking lot. The stores install those cart corrals (which already take up valuable parking places) for a reason. Would it kill you to roll your cart into it, instead of leaving it to block up even more good parking places, you lazy bastards!?

2) People who use Jesus to try to score political points, along the lines of “Jesus would agree with me on [insert controversial viewpoint]” or “A real Christian would [take some politically charged action].” When someone says something like this, it’s an automatic guarantee that they’re not worth listening to on religion or politics.

Kristen Powers has landed right on my pet peeve (the second one, not the shopping cart thing; although anyone who would use Jesus for political leverage would probably leave their carts all over the place) with an article on the Arizona bill which protects business people who want to withhold services for religious conscience reasons:

But in order to violate a Christian’s conscience, the government would have to force them to affirm something in which they don’t believe. This is why the first line of analysis here has to be whether society really believes that baking a wedding cake or arranging flowers or taking pictures (or providing any other service) is an affirmation.

Rather than protecting the conscience rights of Christians, this looks a lot more like randomly applying religious belief in a way that discriminates against and marginalizes one group of people, while turning a blind eye to another group. It’s hard to believe that Jesus was ever for that.

I wanted to react to this, and at the same time I didn’t. It’s become so tiresome to make the same logical theological points over and over again to people who don’t care about theology or logic.

Luckily, Erick Erickson responds to stuff like this the same way a pit bull responds to a wounded cat:

The determinant authority for “a Christian’s conscience” — referenced in their preceding sentence! — is not “society.” It is, well, a Christian. Same goes for any other believer and any other faith. The inability to follow through on straightforward logic here is remarkable.

What “Christians wrestling with this issue must first resolve” is what their particular source of authority — church, denomination, pastor, parish, whatever it may be — says on the topic.

The sort of Christianity that Powers and [co-author] Merritt appear to embrace here is, as best I can tell, a peculiar kind of Jewish Christianity of the first century that contains nothing from St Paul, and is simultaneously sympathetic to the Hellenizing Jews who backed Antiochus IV Epiphanes. It’s just weird and un-representative of how Christianity is actually practiced anywhere on the planet.

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