In big letters above Barney Quick’s column on Wednesday, April 1st, it reads, “The Great Divide.” Mr. Quick was true to his name as he pointed out that there are “2 Columbuses.” He described the two sides as “those who have been pushing for the country’s transformation into something utterly different than it has been for 239 years, and the one composed of those who are horrified by such an agenda” [emphasis mine]. The fact that Mr. Quick’s math is a bit skewed is not the only thing worth noting.
Why are there two Columbuses, Mr. Quick?
If I’ve read your column correctly freedom “has been stood on its head” because those who support transformation believe that the “religious freedom” bill is conservative code for “free to discriminate.” You argue that “paralles to racial situation do not hold up” but according to Rev. Delman Coates, African-American Pastor of Mount Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, MD., “As pastors and clergy leaders we… dispel the myth that all African Americans pastors are fundamentally opposed to the idea of marriage equality,” and African-American Rev. Freddie D. Haynes, Senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, in support of gay-marriage adds, “All people in this country should be afforded the same rights. No one entity owns civil rights.”
Again, there are two sides.
Now, it’s hard in a town like Columbus, where there are approximately one hundred Protestant churches (that’s about 1 church for every 430 people) to treat Christianity as a “niche belief system in our society.” Yet, that is precisely what Mr. Quick is trying to do with those who are “pro-transformation.” There are two Columbuses and two Americas simply because people like Mr. Quick, who fear change, are like stubborn children who want their way and nothing else. The problem with that is that, as one pastor once taught me, that which does not change, dies. Change is a very necessary part of growth. The fact that many of the supporters of this so-called “religious freedom” law are making the same arguments that were once made to defend segregation is proof that the divide is based on fear of change.
And while Mr. Quick believes that freedom is under attack, great defenders of freedom like Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mills would be quick to tell Barney that it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right or wrong. The idea that one religion defines marriage for an entire state would be a direct contradiction to Bentham and Mills argument. But what did they know about freedom?
There are two Columbuses Mr. Quick, because those like you, who fear change and believe that their exercise of “religious freedom” supersedes the rights of others to be free from discrimination, refuse to join the rest of us here in the 21st century. Those people are stuck in 1960s, still fighting over who gets to sit at the bar or the front of the bus. That puts your math off by almost 50 years.