This whole thing has got me thinking, specifically this notion of "religious objection" in the workplace. I know, me thinking about religious stuff. I'm a pastor. It's my job. But speaking of my job, I wonder - are there things in my work that I might have religious objections to, and therefore grounds for me to follow the NC House's lead and recuse myself from performing them?
Hmm. Lemme think. Well, there's worship. I mean, I don't object to worship. Heavens no. But it happens to fall on the Sabbath. And I'm a big believer in Sabbath. Everyone needs a day of rest - the Bible says so. That's one of my religious beliefs.
But there's the problem. See, my biggest work day is the Sabbath. The Christian one, at least. I'm leading worship. I'm preaching a sermon. I'm doing baptisms and communion. I have at least one meeting, lots of times two or three. Church members talk to me on the Sabbath about church stuff. It's a busy day every Sunday.
So I'm left with no choice but to exercise my sincere religious beliefs and no longer work on the Sabbath. I'm not entirely sure how this is going to work, but we'll figure something out. I have very understanding people in my church. They probably won't mind it if I video my sermon the day before. Maybe we can rig up a hologram or something.
What else? Oh, church fellowship meals. Again, I don't object to fellowship meals per se, just a particular kind of fellowship meal. Just like the NC House doesn't object to marriage per se, just a particular kind of marriage.
Anyway, the fellowship meals I object to are ones that use styrofoam plates and cups and plastic utensils. Recently we made a decision to switch to more biodegradable, eco-friendly options, which is awesome. But we still have a couple of boxes of the old stuff, and it'll probably be a few months before we use them all up.
I have strong religious beliefs about the faithful bearing a mandate to take care of this wonderful gift of creation, and I really feel uncomfortable attending any event where styrofoam and plastic are used. I religiously object, you see. So no church fellowship meals for me for the next few months. Besides, if the church fellowship meal took place on the Sabbath, that'd be two strikes against it anyway.
Funerals. Funerals can be pretty sad occasions. Someone has died, and family and friends are understandably grieving. I get that, but my religious beliefs hold fast to a gospel of hope and promise. "Death will be no more," Revelation tells us. I'm sure they won't mind if I phone in, right?
Oh, I almost forgot: yellow highlighters. That's all we have in our office supply closet. I'm an orange highlighter kinda guy. Not sure what religious objection I have to yellow highlighters yet, but give me a week and I'll come up with something (probably from the Old Testament).
Hmm. Come to think of it, I'm not sure this is going to work. That's a whole lot of things I'm not doing that are pretty essential to my job as a pastor (well, other than the highlighter thing. But I do prefer orange). The job, incidentally, that I chose to interview for and chose to accept when it was offered; the job no one forced me to take. The job I took knowing there would be parts of it I'd like and parts I wouldn't. Some things I'd have no problem doing and others that would push my comfort zone.
Just like our state magistrates should perform all wedding services they get asked to do, no matter whether it's a man or a woman, or two men or two women. Because in North Carolina, same-sex marriage is now legal. And most of all, because of the reason I and every other employee have to do the things we were hired to do:
Because it's our job.