An Ugly Tale: An Indiana Pizzeria, RFRA & Mob Justice

Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Matthew 7:1-2, NIV.

“If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no. We are a Christian establishment.”

Crystal O’Connor, Co-Owner, Memories Pizza

Since it’s inception, the United States has protected its citizenry’s right to practice religion, whatever it may be–Santeria, Christianity, Rastafari, Judaism, Wicca, Islam, or any other faith-based group.  Settlers came to the New World , in part, to escape religious intolerance and persecution in Europe.  No wonder our Constitution steadfastly protects the freedom to choose (or not to choose) a religion and the the freedom to practice that religion.

Recently, several people in my life, some with whom I share a close affectionate friendship, have described a person’s character by referring to him or her as “a Christian.”  Although I may remain silent at the description, inwardly I wonder, “What does that mean?”  Based on context, I’m reasonably certain such a characterization is meant to suggest that the individual referenced possesses a moral character.  Put otherwise, people use the word Christian not only to describe followers of the religion, but people who act according to how Christ taught his followers.

While I am no biblical scholar, I am aware that Jesus preached a lot about love.  Indeed, Jesus preached we are to love God, we are to love one another, and we are to love our enemies.  Perhaps more importantly, he showed us how to love–embracing those who were different than him, those who sinned, and those who caused him harm.

I find myself praying several times a day.  But at night, I pray once out loud for and with our daughter before she goes to sleep and, immediately afterwards, I pray out loud for myself.  During one or both of those prayers, I pray for members of Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, ISIS, and other extremist religious groups to know God’s love and to feel his grace.

I wonder whether Ms. O’Connor has criticized such organizations for spreading hatred and persecuting those who hold differing beliefs, including Christians.  I’m curious to know whether she believes that members of ISIS should be able to destroy property and kill non-believers because such are the tenets of their religious convictions.

Using religion–any religion–as a basis to ignore sound laws is the start of a slippery slope.  The “I don’t have to do [insert] because I’m a [insert],” fails to recognize that we live in a society where freedoms must be balanced by reasonable rules to protect and safeguard our very differences.  Indeed, such laws should be celebrated by conservative Christians who don’t want to have to adhere to non-Christian beliefs.

Memories Pizza has closed.  The owners say they are in hiding because of threats.  Mob justice in the day of social media isn’t pretty.  And it isn’t what the founders of this country envisioned.  But hate begets hate.  Fortunately, love begets love.

Love one another.

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