(No fair counting D.C. and the Federal Government)
Compared to someone in another state, we who live in Minnesota rarely feel the superior—the more normal person. The New Mexico Constitution and Supreme Court can give we Minnesotans a normal feeling a bit more often—a couple of doozies in one week.
Christians are now “compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives.”
The court ruled Christians in New Mexico do not have the right to operate a business as Christians. In 2006, Elane Photography owners, Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin, declined the business of Vanessa Willock for her “commitment ceremony” with her lesbian lover explaining their Christian beliefs would prevent them from photographing such a ceremony.
Presumably other things Christian photographers would decline to film would include pornography, actual abortions, cruelty to animals, an Islamist stoning or beheading or a Miley Cyrus event—you get the picture.
While Willock found another photographer, at an actual savings, she filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission accusing Elane Photography and the Huguenins of discrimination based on sexual orientation. Willock won the complaint. The matter worked its way through the New Mexico Judicial system and last week the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled.
“The Huguenins today can no more turn away customers on the basis of their sexual orientation – photographing a same-sex marriage ceremony – than they could refuse to photograph African-Americans or Muslims,” Justice Richard Bosson wrote in the court’s unanimous decision. Bosson said the Christian photographers are now “compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives.”
For a third time, Christians are now “compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives.”
This is simply one of thousands of examples of relativism roaming free in the American culture. And Christianity, not really built for defense, is in full retreat. Lewis Carroll revealed it perfectly when Humpty Dumpty said to Alice,
‘There’s glory for you!’ ‘I don’t know what you mean by “glory,”‘ Alice said. Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. ‘Of course you don’t—till I tell you. I meant “there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!”‘ ‘But “glory” doesn’t mean “a nice knock-down argument,”‘ Alice objected. ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.’
‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you CAN make words mean so many different things.’ ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master—that’s all.’
But Christian businesses are handling the challenge incorrectly. Playing offense is clearly the better choice. (Let’s use photography in an example.) In the presentation of the business they should neither hide nor flaunt their Christianity. When asked to provide their services for one of these parties, they should accept, striking a sound business deal. They should arrive at the event in a business vehicle fitted with prominent signage such as “Jesus saves.” Their equipment and materials must clearly reflect the good news for sinners. The photographic proofs should have clearly present but discrete references to our Christian God and the glory that is in Him. If a client insists on an image of something obnoxious, the proof should always be flawed.
Now, as a business consultant, I would not recommend the above course of action until I had thought it through in the specific situation. I do know we as Christians should be playing offense. We can win.
The New Mexico Supreme Court was on a roll.
E pluribus unum is the de facto motto of the United States of America (In God We Trust is the official motto.) E pluribus unim in New Mexico? Not so much.
This time the Court’s hands were tied by the State Constitution. Unlike Federal Courts, the New Mexico Supreme Court, at least in this case, followed the New Mexico Constitution which provides that citizens who speak Spanish have the same rights in court as citizens who speak English. (A juror who speaks only Spanish may not be dismissed for that cause.)
I understand the New Mexico Constitution does provide for equality between English and Spanish (Mexican version) but here is my take.
The American Indians
The writers of the New Mexico Constitution provided for brown Mexicans and white or black Americans but what about the Indians? There are 22 Indian tribes in New Mexico. There is the Navajo Nation. The Apache Nation has two tribes, the Jicarilla and the Mescalero. These are the nineteen tribes in the Pueblo Nation: Acoma, Taos, Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, Tesuque, San Felipe, Jemez, Zuni, Zia, Nambe, Picuris, Ohkay Owingeh, Santo Domingo, Laguna, Isleta, Santa Ana, Sandia, Cochiti, and Pojoaque. It looks as though the white and black Americans and the brown Mexicans were and remain to this day jointly racist towards the 22 more native tribes of New Mexico.
For Mexicans, how long is enough?
This New Mexico Constitution was adopted in 1912. It would seem Mexicans had over 60 years to learn English. Of course back 150 years ago, we didn’t have English as a Second Language University discipline or text. So, perhaps I’m a bit hard on the New Mexico Mexicans. Perhaps I have a bias.
Follow the story of my father’s family. My father was born in 1901; 50 years after New Mexico became a U.S. Territory. When he started school in 1907, my dad could speak two languages neither was English His parents were recent immigrants; his mother came from Norway and his father from Sweden.
Dad (who could speak Norwegian and Swedish) was one of 5 first graders—none of them could speak English. The school was one room with 37 pupils in 8 grades. There was one teacher whose teaching education was one 9 month term at “Normal School.” My father, like the other four first graders, could speak and understand English by the spring. Older children were learning the parts of speech, diagramming sentences, spelling, composition and more.
For many years I have denigrated the graduate degree teachers of “English as a second language” as simply lost souls who had no clue what a marvelous instrument the human brain is and no understanding of a child’s capacity to learn.
Or I argued that these do-gooders looked down at Americans of Mexican (and of certain other Latin-American descent) as just incapable of learning anything as complicated as English. But maybe they are right and I am wrong. Perhaps after more than 160 years, Mexicans simply cannot learn English.
On the other hand – – – –