You might think, when you become a baker, that you’re pretty safe from controversy.
But, in response to Mississippi’s Religious Freedom bill, suddenly bakers are being interviewed about hot topics on NPR.
Because, as the NPR report puts it, Mississippi “Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill into law that allows religious organizations, individuals and businesses to refuse their services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people if they feel offering such services violates their religious beliefs.”
The Power Problem
It seems to me this has a lot to do with who has the power here. We can never really figure out if we, as Christians, are an oppressed minority or the voice of the majority. If you’re an atheist in a room full of praying people or it seems everyone around you celebrates Christmas, it’s easy to think Christians represent the majority (and historically, in this country, they have).
But as popular culture changes, as prayer is not allowed in schools, as movies promote values different from our own, as laws are changed, it’s understandable that Christians can begin to feel like an oppressed minority. I can see a case for both sides and when both those outside of and inside of the Church feel like a minority, it’s hard to have a reasonable conversation.When both sides feel like a minority, it’s hard to have a reasonable conversation of oppression. Click To Tweet
Jesus on Feeling Oppressed
Regardless of our position on that, Christians who are most in support of bills like this one in Mississippi are supportive because they believe they are oppressed. They believe they are being forced by their government to give up their rights, to do things they would not choose to dho. If that is the case, the words of Jesus to oppressed Christians come to mind:
“If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.”
If Christians are becoming a minority in this country, it is from a long history of power. Certainly, there are places in the US where the Christian perspective is still the norm (very generally: rural and suburban areas and the midwest/bible belt states). But in urban centers and on the coasts, we are already in a post-Christian America. As pastors in post-Christian places, we don’t have the luxury to start arguments or defend our rights. In churches like mine, Christians have the opportunity to live out Paul’s question in 1 Corinthians 5:12:
“What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?”
There is still a way to humbly share our perspective but that hearing has to be earned. Regardless of whether or not we agree with everything we see in the culture around us, this is an opportunity to serve and love, despite our difference.
If, when we feel cornered, we behave like people who expect to have power—demanding our rights—we will miss an opportunity to be like Christ. We will have to make painful but purifying choices: right ideas vs right practice; the American value of personal rights vs the Christian value of setting aside our rights. Perhaps we are learning again what it means to not have all the power, something Christians across the world and the ages have always known. And when we do lose power, we will need to learn a new (to us) posture.
And start making more cakes.Jesus on oppression: 'If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.' Click To Tweet
I don't think that there is such a thing as a religious belief that you shouldn't serve people. Click To Tweet
“I don’t think that there is such a thing as a deeply held religious belief that you should not serve people.”
Mitchell Moore, Christian baker from Mississippi, in an NPR interview