Saturday, February 22, 2014
Rev. Elizabeth Rambikur of First United Methodist Church Tucson responds to SB 1062 and HB 2153:
Our call as human beings, made in the image of God, is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5) and Jesus reminds those who would strive for the title of Christian that the second commandment is, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:38). The teachings of Jesus remind us that there is no law greater than the love of God and the love of ones neighbor as the self. It is here that all law — whether perceived as given by God or written by human beings - must begin.
In the most basic way Arizona SB 1062 and HB 2153 prohibit the full practice of Christianity because the fundamental teaching of love by Jesus Christ is violated when we practice discrimination against others. The United Methodist Church has shaped its discipline and faith practices through the crucible of the human rights movements of the last 231 years, as we have moved beyond slavery, beyond discrimination against women, past discrimination based on race, and beyond the denial of access to differently abled people. There is no question that the practice of discrimination is a violation of our faith as Christians and our discipline as United Methodists in accordance with:
The 2012 Book of Discipline, paragraph 162
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. We support the basic human rights of all persons…We deplore acts of hate or violence against groups or persons based on race, color, national origin, ethnicity, age, gender, disability, status, economic condition, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religious affiliation.
And The 2012 Book of Discipline, paragraph 162J
Certain basic human rights and civil liberties are due all persons. We are committed to supporting those rights and liberties for all persons, regardless of sexual orientation. We see a clear issue of simple justice in protecting the rightful claims where people have shared material resources, pensions, guardian relationships, mutual powers of attorney, and other such lawful claims typically attendant to contractual relationships that involve shared contributions, responsibilities, and liabilities, and equal protection before the law. Moreover, we support efforts to stop violence and other forms of coercion against all persons, regardless of sexual orientation.
As United Methodists bound by the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Discipline of our denomination we reject SB 1062 and HB 2153 because it advocates for the practice of discrimination while hiding behind the pretense of religious freedom.
I urge all of you my brothers and sisters - those who identify as Christians and those who do not - to remember that our calling as human beings is to make this a world we can all live in together and that our responsibility to each other is to honor each other’s human dignity.