Jesus and Indiana’s Religious Freedom law

Yesterday, March 31, Christian Theological Seminary released President Matthew Myer Boultons statement on Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The statement represents the official position of the CTS Board of Trustees. Views from the Edge is pleased to re-print it today:

“Christian Theology Seminary (CTS) believes deeply in religious liberty. But we witness to the fact that Jesus of Nazareth — the one every Christian disciple seeks to follow — calls us not to a freedom to exclude, or a freedom to discriminate, or a freedom to create an atmosphere where prejudice may flourish. On the contrary, again and again, Jesus calls us to a freedom of inclusion, equality, justice, and profound respect for the dignity of all.

“CTS opposes this act, then, not only because it represents an offense to the spirit of civil rights; not only because it cuts against the best of Hoosier hospitality; and not only because it has created a public relations crisis for the state of Indiana. CTS opposes RFRA primarily because it violates the Christian values we hold dear: values of inclusion, equality, justice, and the dignity of all people, including our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.

“The Christian Gospels are replete with examples of these values. In the Gospel According to Luke, in response to the command to ‘love your neighbor as yourself,’ a lawyer asks Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ It is a clannish question, a question that seeks to draw a circle around one group we are required to love and serve, creating another group we supposedly may exclude as outsiders.

“But Jesus will have none of it. In his response — the parable of the Good Samaritan — Jesus flips the question on its head, as if to say, ‘Don’t waste your time asking the clannish question of who your neighbor is; instead, go and BE an excellent neighbor, serving all with mercy and justice.’

“Three weeks ago, I was a keynote speaker at a church service rallying against RFRA. In conversations afterward, many of us who attended, including some of the event’s organizers, lamented that it appeared the bill was headed for passage. I take heart today at the bipartisan, statewide, nationwide outcry against this unwise, unjust legislation. And I continue to be inspired by the many Christians and other religious people who stand against RFRA as a matter of faith, conviction, and genuine religious liberty.

“Real damage has been done, but together we can and must begin the work of repair. Indeed, for Christians, as we move ever deeper into Holy Week, we can only be challenged and encouraged that God is a God of hope and resurrection.”

Matthew Myer Boulton
President and Professor of Theology
Christian Theological Seminary

NOTE: Christian Theological Seminary, an ecumenical seminary of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and its neighbor, Butler University, founded and co-host the Desmond Tutu Center.  The Desmond Tutu Center is North America’s only academic center in a university and seminary context named for Archbishop Emeritus Tutu. The center, launched on September 12, 2013, focuses on leadership development in social justice and reconciliation, international relationships, and interreligious bridge-building. South African churchman, theologian, and anti-Aparteid leader Rev. Dr. Allan Boesak is the Tutu Center’s Executive Director.

FURTHER PERSONAL NOTE: Matthew Myer Boulton is the son of  Wayne and Vicki Boulton whose friendship has blessed us since Wayne and I met as roommates in 1964 at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.  Steve and I  could not be prouder of Matt’s leadership and witness for justice and peace.

 

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