Dear Members and Friends of the Desert Southwest Conference,
Today (Friday) I sent a letter to the clergy, retired and active, and those in ministries in local United Methodist Churches in our Conference, as well as those appointed to extension ministries. In that letter, I shared my thoughts about Arizona House Bill 2153 and Senate Bill 1062 which have made local and national news. I shared my serious concern about the bill which has been passed by both houses of our state government and has been sent to our Governor. And I encouraged others to call our Governor, as I did, to urge her not to sign the bill into law.
As I ponder the consequences of this bill, should it become law, I feel a sense of impending doom. This would be another example of secular law that will do more harm than it will do good. From the perspective of one United Methodist, I do not see that this bill reflects our highest ideals as United Methodists, as Christ followers, and as citizens of the state of Arizona.
As United Methodists, we believe that “The rights and privileges a society bestows upon or withholds from those who comprise it indicate the relative esteem in which that society holds particular persons and groups of persons. We affirm all persons as equally valuable in the sight of God. We therefore work toward societies in which each person’s value is recognized, maintained, and strengthened.” (¶ 162 of the Social Principles in the 2012 Book of Discipline)
This means that the laws we pass demonstrate how much we value or devalue other human persons. You can tell whether a society values human life by the laws it passes. If we agree that our religious beliefs should strengthen us to live in the world as better persons who are more accepting of others, I do not see that HB 2153 / SB 1062 promotes or encourages that acceptance. If acting with civility and kindness are important human values even when we do not agree with one another, this bill falls short of supporting those values.
Our religious beliefs as well as our laws should not permit us to discriminate or promote hatred or violence or harm.
This law, if enacted, sends a message that Arizona is a state that does not respect the basic rights of all human persons, created by God, to the fullness of life as intended by God. It makes it acceptable for persons to discriminate against others under the guise of religious freedom. It saddens me to see our state take a giant step backwards as it sanctions discrimination against others who are different from us. It gives persons the opportunity to promote hatred, do violence, and harm others.
Given these outcomes, I choose to stand against this and all legislation that promotes discrimination under the guise of religious freedom. As a person of faith, I choose to stand against legislation that promotes discrimination in the name of Christianity or any other religion. I take issue with the assumption that all Christians want the kind of law that is being proposed. That is why I have already called our Governor to register my strong hope that she will choose to veto the bill.
If you also feel that this bill (House Bill 2153/Senate Bill 1062) does not reflect your belief as a United Methodist, as a Christ follower, as a human being, I ask you to call the Governor and urge her not to sign the bill. Call her at 602.542.4331.
And I ask you if you would, to invite and encourage your faith communities to do the same. Lastly, please join with me in prayer in love and respect for all of God’s children.
As always, your comments, concerns, questions are welcome.