Friday, May 06, 2016

Tow Trucks, Sanders, and Jesus

I came across this article in the Huffington Post the other day. I wasn't going to write about it, but I posted it on Facebook. A friend commented on it and then I commented on his comment and my comment got so long and I just decided to write an entire blog post on it.

The basic story is this: A disabled young woman with psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia (she's got other illnesses, but those are most pertinent) was in a car wreck. After the wreck, someone was able to move her car off the highway so she was safe. The tow truck arrived, but the tow truck driver saw the Sanders sticker on her car and said that he was a conservative Christian and that he, in good conscience, could not tow her. He said that she was safe in her car with the air conditioning on while she waited for another tow truck.

Folks, this is what happens when we can pick and choose who to serve based on "sincerely held religious beliefs." First it was bakers and photographers for gay people, now it is tow truck drivers leaving disabled women on the side of the road for having different political beliefs. We're going back to Jim Crow, but based on whatever the heck we want. This is wrong. And, it's not Jesus-like. Jesus would have baked the cake, taken the pictures, and towed the woman's car. And more. Because that's what he tells us to do. (Matthew 5:38-48)

 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Matthew 5:40-42

Jesus is telling his followers that if a Roman soldier tells you to carry his load for a mile (which they were allowed to do), that they should not only carry it a mile, but carry it for two miles. We are to do more than is required, even for our "enemies". (The Jews weren't exactly friends with the Romans.)

It's pretty clear to me, here that Jesus is telling us to do more than is required to be a loving neighbor. And to be loving to people with whom we disagree. In fact, to whom might even be our enemies. I don't consider Sanders supporters to be my enemies (my daughter is one!).

My friend commented the following: 

And the people that won't do concerts or do business in NC? How about the mayor on NYC saying don't go to Click Filet? Do they get a pass on this?

My response:

Traditionally, it is the purchaser of services that chooses to whom they give their custom. This allows for competition in the marketplace. For example, we tried to entice people to purchase yarn from us by carrying different types of yarn than the yarn stores in Appleton and Stevens Point. But, in this country, a public establishment, like a business, is not legally allowed to discriminate in who they serve, hire, etc. (Note: this applies to public establishments, not private. So, churches are exempt and are free to choose not to hire women, or those with whom they disagree.) A business that is open to the public is legally required (and I would argue, ethically required) to serve anyone to chooses their business.

When someone disagrees with a business's policies or stance on an issue, an individual or group of people can choose not to give their custom to that business. For example, the Southern Baptist Convention for years encouraged people to boycott Disney. Liberal groups have encouraged people to boycott ChikFilA. Conservatives are choosing to boycott Target. These are all legal and ethical ways to show one's lack of support for a business. No one can make you choose to shop at a particular business.

Yes, this is the opposite of businesses who can't choose who to serve. But, remember the sit-ins of the 60s when African Americans were lynched just for the right to be served in the same establishments as whites. Public accommodations are for everyone, no matter their race, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation. 

I can shop in any store I want. No one can turn me away because I'm a woman or a Christian. No one should be able to refuse to tow my car because I'm a Republican. The very idea of having to have a set of towing companies for liberals and a set for conservatives is laughable! It just reeks of Jim Crow! We won't stand for that kind of discrimination by race and we shouldn't stand for it for any other reason.

Back to the original post. A man used the argument that he should not serve a woman with whom he disagrees because he's a follower of Jesus. I just can't go there. Jesus was always hanging out with people with whom he disagreed. And there's no evidence that they always changed their ways and became his followers. He certainly didn't require him to become his followers before he would love them.

And here's a radical idea. That Sanders supporter might be a Christian!! Is it so hard to believe? The tow truck operator used one little bit of identification to decide that she was his "enemy" without talking to her or learning anything about her. Who knows?

In any case, as Jesus followers, we are required to live in this world. We are to be lights shining in the darkness. We can't do that when we tell people that we won't associate with them. We have to know people, talk to them, love them. We can't do that when we label them from a bumper sticker and then refuse them service.

And, yet once again, we are back to LOVE!! Jesus wants us to love people, whether we like them or not. And to love them practically. Even when it hurts. So go love someone!!!

What do you think about all this??

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Well said, Catherine! I am in total agreement!