Lorie Smith claims to be a religious woman. She is not, however, a good person.
Proof of Smith’s shortcomings are now permanently etched into American history. Upon arguing to the Supreme Court that her faith should shield her from making wedding websites for gay couples, Smith will forever be remembered by most as an anti-gay bigot who turned back time.
The legitimacy of Smith’s case has been called into question, and rightfully so. Her merit as a plaintiff is as wobbly as a toothpick on point, and today’s court is marred by corruption and scandals. That Smith’s case was even selected to be heard reveals a much larger legal and political problem, a sentiment reflected in all-time low public approval for the nation’s most prominent legal minds.
Yet for all the scrutiny this case has received, a gap persists: The morality of Christianity itself.
While LGBTQ rights remain at the heart of the case, so, too, was the morality of American Christianity ruled upon. The results aren’t pretty. By cementing the argument that Smith’s faith requires her to engage in bigotry, and in the court deeming such bigotry acceptable, the court has now forced every American Christian into moral crosshairs. So what will they choose? Their religion, or being a good person?
To be fair, religion and goodness have rarely gone hand in hand. For centuries wars have been waged and lives have been lost, all in the name of God and higher purpose. Religious leaders of all kinds have worked to hold others down, going so far as to offer religious justification for everything from bigotry to rape, slavery and murder. Apparently, the irony of performing such immoral, heinous acts gets lost amid one’s delirious pursuit of perceived divine truth.
It’s in this distinction between goodness and religion that conservatives and the Supreme Court appear to be unwittingly swallowing their own sword. Although they might be temporarily succeeding in rolling back the hands of time, civil rights will press on. Our rights as women, people of color, LGBTQ and any marginalized group are on the right side of history and public opinion. It may take us longer than we’d like, but in the end, we’ll persevere.
American Christianity won’t.
Data already show this trend underway. In recent years, Americans are turning their back on organized religions at unprecedented rates. Christians held a 90% majority 50 years ago, but they are now projected to be in the public minority in just a few decades. In an ever-diverse America, it seems most of us have simply had it with outdated and bigoted rules.
But instead of trending toward a more loving, compassionate and welcoming message — you know, like faith claims to do — conservative leaders remain set on ramming discriminatory and legally dubious precedent down the public’s throat. Never mind that we don’t agree. It’s in the name of God, so it must be right, right? No. This approach will only expedite the decline and ultimate demise of Christianity in America.
Take Smith’s case as an example. Public opinion clearly supports LGBTQ rights, yet conservatives sought to fight against them. That’s bad enough. But Smith didn’t argue her bigotry was due to being a conservative, at least not exactly. She argued it was her faith and “biblical truth” that compelled her to deny wedding services to gay Americans:
“[Smith] will not produce content that “contradicts biblical truth” regardless of who orders it,” read one court document. “Ms. Smith’s belief that marriage is a union between one man and one woman is a sincerely held conviction.”
The phrase “biblical truth” ought to ripen the skepticism of any thinking person. If Smith’s faith is so unwavering, then surely she must adhere to all Bible passages equally, right?
Doubtful. Does Smith hate her own family as is requested by Jesus in Luke 14:25-26 to be a disciple of his teachings? Does Smith deny the modernly fabricated monotheistic religiosity for the existence of multiple Gods as suggested in the Old Testament, Psalm 82? Does Smith acknowledge the scholarly understanding of Genesis 2:18-20 that authors of the holy text intended for Adam to remain androgynous?
What about other “biblical truths?” Does she agree a man should not sit on anything women have made impure for seven days during menstruation per Leviticus 15: 19-20? Does she purchase slaves and treat them as her property per Leviticus 25: 44-46? Or here’s a simple one: Does she give away all but one of her food and clothing to those who have none per Luke 3:11?
Of course not. Smith is clearly picking and choosing her “biblical truth” and is using faith as a cover for bigotry. It’s exactly why we have anti-discrimination laws in the first place.
Sadly, the reality is that a rogue Supreme Court has ruled Smith’s bigotry legal, at least for now. She and the conservatives own that win. But in time, thanks to religious devotees like Smith, it’s American Christians who will lose the war. Based on polls and an ever-growing diverse population, I’d wager Smith and the court just sealed and perhaps even expedited the fate of decline for American Christianity.
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