I’ve grown quite tired of the phrases “deeply held belief” and “sincerely held religious belief”. They’ve been coming up a lot lately, especially with that interesting woman from Kentucky. Or those people with the restaurant or the one with the bakery.
But we know it from the Hobby Lobby decision. Deeply held, sincerely held belief. We used to call these “matters of conscience”. Now these are deep, sincere, held-close beliefs.
But what is it that is being called deeply held and sincere? In all of these cases the belief in question is a right to discriminate based on gender or use of contraceptives. Is that really anyone’s true deeply held belief? Let’s be honest. This is the substance of their faith? Really? This is that deep-down fundamental faith that cannot be moved? Rejection and immovability? Hate? Puritan uncompromising mixed with Roman conquering?
My deeply held beliefs are
- Jesus is Lord.
- GOD’s work is reconciling all of creation.
- My job is to help bring/build the kingdom here and restoring that creation.
- GOD’s justice, peace, hope, and love are our hallmarks.
- When another suffers violence or persecution or evil intent, Christ suffers it too. When we love others, we love Christ.
These are deeply held because they are the foundation of my faith. They aren’t the surface stuff, but the bottom, rooted stuff. It doesn’t mean there isn’t other stuff, of course. It’s just that this is the deep stuff, the core, the stuff that is foundational to everything else; everything else is based on this. How we treat immigrants and LGBTQ and the mentally ill and the poor and the imprisoned all flow from these five beliefs.
Much like Jesus’ response to the Scribe about the greatest commandment: love GOD and neighbor and everything hangs from that. Not so much love GOD, hate the gays, and pick and choose what you like and what you don’t out of Leviticus! As a Christian, one’s use of Leviticus must come from this point: that it hangs from love, not hate; Shalom, not division.
I don’t doubt the woman from Kentucky believes in what she’s doing. She must believe she’s being a good Christian. I’m just not sure how anyone can call that deeply held or sincerely held faith and still call her a Christian.
The root of our faith is not hate, bigotry, or rejection. It is love. A love that overcomes the kind of hate that leads to rejection, persecution, spitting-on, shaming, strung up on a tree – lynched, crucified, all the same – and leads the world to see it for what it is. Small. Petty. Abuse. And nothing at all like Christian faith. The very character our Christian faith is supposed to change in us.