In The Federalist op-ed, Iowa pastor Christopher Neuendorf asserts: “Disagreements are a part of life. As we constantly hear, diversity is built into American culture, and that includes diversity of opinion. I can deal with that. I don’t need everyone to agree with me in order to be a functional member of society.”
With the recent outrage over state laws protecting religious freedom, Rev. Neuendorf identifies a grave concern: in denouncing RFRAs, the rights of any religious individual to exist in our society are being denounced.
I’m not exaggerating. I’m not indulging in hyperbole. This is what you’re saying when you post on social media that you are outraged with Indiana’s efforts to protect religious freedom: that I, your family member, friend, neighbor, coworker, fellow citizen, am no longer allowed to exist in your world. I must conform myself to your way of thinking, or face financial ruin and ostracism.
Consider what Indiana’s RFRA offered before Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and his fellow lawmakers neutered it: if sued by a same-sex couple for refusing to provide goods and services that constitute helping celebrate a same-sex wedding, business owners might find protection from devastating lawsuits. Or they might not. It’s up to a judge, and of course we’ve learned not to hope for too much sympathy from our courts these days. But even the potential that a business owner might get away with such stand without facing total annihilation is intolerable to our passionate defenders of non-discrimination.
It doesn’t matter how much we protest that we’re not talking about denying goods and services to our homosexual neighbors as homosexuals. It doesn’t matter that any Christian business would graciously serve food, baked goods, flowers, or any other commodity to any homosexual person who might enter that establishment. It doesn’t matter that we’re talking only about those limited circumstances in which we are expected to become actively involved in the celebration of behavior that our conscience insists is sinful. Such protestations consistently fall on deaf ears.
Rev. Neuendorf has struck on the heart of the “new intolerance”: no one who disagrees is allowed to continue living and working in our society. This is a blatant attempt to justify silencing any opposition. But the “new intolerance” will never be able to change the truth, no matter how aggressively they attack. No matter what, the voices of the American people will still ring loud and clear, for marriage, for truth, and for freedom.