Do People Choose Their Religion?

Do people choose their religion?

It’s a simple question that has arisen out of an apparent contradiction.

On one hand, religious conservatives in twenty-one states do not have the freedom to decline to decorate for a same-sex wedding.

However, same-sex couples do have the freedom to decline to provide services for religious conservatives based on their belief that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman?

Each side has convictions but only one side will face legal penalties.

Many of us believe this to be unjust but progressives wonder why anyone is confused.

For them, this isn’t a complicated situation at all.

In a recent conversation about a dress designer who refused to dress Melania Trump, I asked an acquaintance, “Why should the dress designer see a different result than the the florist who declined to decorate for a same-sex wedding?”

The answer was quick.

“Religion is a choice, but sexual orientation isn’t.”

Essentially, his point was that people should be free to discriminate against people based on their beliefs and convictions but not based on how they were born.  (He apparently assumed sexual desire is fixed and innate.)

The conclusion is that if people treat you poorly because of what you believe, choose to believe something else.

Simple, right?

Not really.

All this does is reveal how little the progressive left understands of people who don’t share their worldview, though I  may understand where the impression that people “choose their religion” came from.

I too have watching people in the “buffet line of religion” sample what they think they’ll like, take seconds if they love it but throw in the garbage if they don’t.

But for most of us, the idea of choosing a religion sounds as absurd.

Do you choose to believe that grass is green? Or do you acknowledge it?

When it comes to answering the big questions in life, most of us don’t see ourselves as being at a buffet deciding which options we like best.

It’s more of a math problem.  We’re trying to find the right answer.

We aren’t trying to find answer that makes you angry.

Nor are we trying to find an answer that makes you happy.

The truth is, we weren’t really thinking about you.  We’re just trying to find out what is true.

We don’t pretend to have every answer to every question, but we think we have a foundation of something real that will help us understand more than we did before.

We don’t think we chose it.

We think we found it.

Or–to be more Christian about it–He found us.

We don’t expect everyone to agree with us, but if you want to change our minds, you need to convince us that we’re wrong not that the answer hurts your feelings.

But here’s the challenge.

Because all your friends agree with you, you’ve convinced yourselves that there is a “concensus” and “the science is settled”.  As a result, you’ve not only lost the ability to make coherent arguments, you’ve forgotten there is even a need to do so.

You’ve prioritized the creation of “safe spaces”, which, by definition, exclude people who disagree with you.  So you view those with a different opinions not simply as people with different opinions but as a threat.

As a result, in the name of helping the marginalized, you marginalize.

In the name of justice, you institutionalize injustice.

In the name of helping the oppressed, you have become the oppressor.

And you feel good about it because you no longer believe we deserve the respect associated with seeking first to understand.

2016  was a challenging year for our country.  Lots of decent people contributed to a toxic political environment because our emotions got the best of us.

But if we’re ever going to get beyond that, we’re going to have to start assuming the best about each others motives.

And that’s never going to happen if we have an entire political philosophy that reduces the convictions of their friends and neighbors to a bad choice.

Sure, its possible to believe anything you want.  And some people have convinced themselves of some pretty crazy things. (I know Patriots fans who don’t think the Patriots cheat!)

But for the vast majority of sincere believers, we don’t think we choose what is true, but we are trying to find it.   And if you’re interested in that as well, I would welcome you on that journey with me.

Even if we never reach the same conclusion, we might become friends.

Or you could just keep suing us for disagreeing with you and see how that goes.





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