In his Sunday column in the Daily Beast, bishop Gene Robinson considers the role of fear as a motivating factor for the religious right in the wake of the Hobby Lobby case:
What can progressive people, and progressive religious people in particular, do to demonstrate that American culture is not trying to take away their freedom to pray, worship and believe as they wish? How can we speak to their fears in a way that gets them to understand that there is nothing to be fearful of? Vigilance, yes, is prudent and necessary in any free society, but fear bordering on paranoia—fear that is objectively unwarranted—is corrosive.
Religious freedom is something I would fight and die for. But I do not feel threatened by our precious separation of church and state in this beloved United States. That separation should not only protect religious people and communities from interference by the state, but should also protect the secular culture from unwarranted influence and control by the church, synagogue or mosque. Robert Frost got it right: fences make for good neighbors. And while church and state are good neighbors in America, it’s the fence between the two that make for real religious liberty.
Within only a day or two after the Hobby Lobby ruling, prominent evangelicals called upon President Obamato declare broad religious exemptions to his upcoming executive order banning discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people by federal contractors. Just stop and think about the image of religious people pleading for the “right” to discriminate against certain fellow citizens. What would Jesus do, indeed?!
I am keenly aware that such a view might be perceived by some as having a good dose of paranoia of my own. But I think that while oppression and discrimination against LGBT citizens can be demonstrated with ease and myriad examples, oppression of religious people by the government and society is much more difficult to document. Anti-gay sentiment is waning in American society, and with that forward progress, conservative churches will see a loss of credibility and a diminished effectiveness of their fear-mongering. That is as it should be. Neither the church nor the state is served by it.
For the full piece by Robinson, please visit the Daily Beast here.