Sins and Crimes

Dear visionaries,

Just got back from Santa Cruz. The folks down there make all our local Moscow progressives look like mossback conservatives. It is a pleasure to be back. That said . . .

Susannah detected a whiff of old Lester Maddox in my defense of the property rights of business owners. George did much the same. Susannah said, “He [Maddox] staked this private property ‘right’ on exactly the same philosophical grounds that Doug argues in his post.”

(Writer of this post rubs his forehead wearily.)

What does a liberal, progressive free speech advocate do? He says to the neo-Nazi, who has applied for permit for some dumb parade, “I may not agree with what you say but will fight to the death for your right to say it.” You all agree with that? Of course you do; it is one of your hallowed cliches. The ACLU does a regular fan dance with it. Now, what could be your problem with “I may not agree with what you do with your restaurant but will fight to the death for your right to do it”?

The question is whether bigotry ought to be a crime with attendant civil penalties. It is not a debate over whether it is a sin. You can support someone’s right to speak without agreeing with the content of his speech. You can support someone’s right to run a restaurant the way he wants without agreeing with the way he runs it.

I pastor a church, and am a resident of Moscow. The nature of civil and church governments differ. If one of my fellow Moscow citizens refused to serve blacks on racist grounds in his restaurant, I do not think we should pass a law forbidding him to be such a jerk. But if one of the members of the church refused to serve blacks on racist grounds, he would soon find himself in the process of church discipline. I grew up in a segregated city, and it is a point of honor with me that our family had nothing to do with the racist nonsense surrounding us. I attended an all-white government elementary school — and after integration, I went to a racially mixed (and volatile) middle school because my family refused to participate in the white flight. My sister was one of the only white kids in her grade. So give me a break, all you liberal residents of Little Norway here in the Pacific Northwest, and quit trying to change the subject.

Disapproval of homosexuality on moral grounds is one thing. And I do disapprove. Disapproval of blacks on scripturally ignorant grounds is quite another. (Quick joke: What is a good pick-up line at a white supremacist convention? “Hey, nice tooth!”)

The short form is this: I believe in racial harmony because the Scriptures require it in multiple places, and we are taught that Jesus Christ is the only possible hope for such harmony. I also believe that homosexuality is a sin that should be repented of because (those same) Scriptures teach this. In short, I am a Christian who believes the Bible, straight up. Do I get to run my restaurant as such a Christian? Or must I submit my restaurant to the dictates of an alien faith? When do I have to report to the re-education center?

Cordially,

 

Douglas Wilson

“Apologetics in the Void” are repostings from an on-going electronic discussion and debate I had some time ago with members of our local community, whose names I have changed. The list serve is called Vision 20/20, and hence the name “visionaries.” Reading just these posts probably feels like listening to one half of a phone conversation, but I don’t feel at liberty to publish what others have written. But I have been editing these posts (lightly) with intelligibility in mind.

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