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Christianity in Crisis

Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association is a professional worrier. He gets paid to imagine the worst-case scenario for the nation's future (from his perspective) and then fret in public over the imminence of that worst-case scenario.

So he must have been privately overjoyed at the Supreme Court's recent decision legalizing same-sex marriage. The decision opens many new avenues of worst-case futures for right-wing Christians; Fischer's toughest decision must have been determining which one to pick. Can you guess what he chose?

If you said gay marriage will lead to the prohibition of Christians from holding public office, you're a winner! In a recent article for Renew America, Fischer argued:

Mark my words on this. The ultimate outcome of this unconscionable act is that one day, before too long, it will be officially illegal for Christians to hold public office in the United States.

How will this happen? It's simple. Every holder of public office takes a solemn and sacred oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.

You see? It's inevitable. We know conservative Christians are opposed to the Constitution...no, that's not it. Christians are against taking sacred oaths...no, that's just the Quakers, and there's a special exemption written into the laws for them (and for others who might have similar qualms about oathtaking).

So just how is it that Fischer believes taking an oath to uphold the Constitution will prevent Christians from serving?

Liberals will argue that since June 26, 2015, our Constitution has been amended to include the right to marriage based on the infamous crime against nature.

The left will argue that if an individual is not prepared to swear that they wholeheartedly support sodomy-based marriage, they have no right at all even to take the oath of office. An individual's opposition to same-sex marriage will be (falsely) interpreted as opposition to the Constitution itself.

Oh, of course. We all know how much power those nasty liberals have; all they need to do is falsely interpret the Constitution, and their opponents can be barred for life from public office.

In the dystopian fantasy world where Bryan Fischer lives, that's actually where the U.S. is headed.

It is already the case in every jurisdiction that there are certain requirements that must be satisfied before an individual is even eligible to run for public office.

For instance, in Pennsylvania the state constitution disqualifies any person who has been convicted of embezzlement, bribery, perjury, "or other infamous crimes" from holding office. It won't be long before opposition to same-sex marriage will be added to the list of disqualifying sins.

In case you're wondering how opposition to same-sex marriage could even remotely be placed in the same category as embezzlement and perjury, Fischer helpfully connects the dots.

In fact, the city of San Antonio tried this very thing in 2014, considering an ordinance that would ban Christians entirely from public service. Here's how the language of the proposed ordinance read (emphasis mine):

"No person shall be appointed to a position if the City Council finds that such person has, prior to such proposed appointment, engaged in discrimination or demonstrated a bias, by word or deed, against any person, group or organization on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age, or disability."

Up to this point Fischer's paranoia seemed amusing to me, but here he makes an absolutely chilling leap of logic.

First, it's important to note that, although the city of San Antonio debated adding this paragraph to their non-discrimination ordinance, they chose not to. The ordinance already prohibits city officials from engaging in discrimination while on the job. According to this amendment's author Diego Bernal, it was intended as an aid to vetting candidates for high-level city appointments. The wording of the amendment, however, was vague enough to possibly exclude good candidates who had once said something in their past that they now regret.

But that's not what worries Bryan Fischer. Fischer's concern is that it might have excluded people with a history of discriminatory practice or speech that they still affirm today. This is Fischer's goal: to ensure that bigots have equal access to top city jobs, despite their proven willingness to discriminate against their fellow citizens.

And it's even worse than it sounds. When Fischer says that if this amendment had passed San Antonio's non-discrimination ordinance would "ban Christians entirely from public service." he is asserting, and not very subtly, that Christians must discriminate or "demonstrate a bias, by word or deed," against LGBT people. If you're not vocally denigrating your gay neighbor, then in Bryan Fischer's eyes you're not a Christian.

Now I'm just an ordinary, random Christian. I'm not a professional theologian; I'm just a computer programmar for a public library. I don't have the stature of the spokesman for the American Family Association. I don't have thousands of people hanging on my every word like Fischer does. So what I'm about to say won't have nearly the impact that Fischer's own hateful words have. But it needs to be said.

Bryan Fischer does not understand the teaching of Jesus. He entirely misses the meaning of the parable of the good Samaritan, where the one who was praised for his righteousness was the one who took care of the injured person, not those who passed by  in order to keep themselves pure. Fischer misses the point of the parable of the sheep and the goats, where Jesus praised those who fed the hungry, clothed the naked, cared for the sick, welcomed the strangers and aliens, and visited the prisoners—and cursed those who had other priorities. Fischer misses the point of Jesus' teaching about being judgmental, criticizing those who worry about the speck in their neighbor's eye when they have a log in their own eye. Fischer misses the point of the vision given to Peter, where he saw a table full of "unclean" foods and was told to eat. The vision was not about the kosher laws. It was about welcoming people into the fellowship who were previously considered unclean.

It pains me to see a powerful man like Bryan Fischer drag Jesus through the mud and equate the word Christian with bigotry, while at the same time brazenly claiming Christianity for his own. I can find nothing in his hate-filled words that even remotely resembles the Chrisitanity I practice and the Jesus I follow.

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