The other day the Macon-Bibb County Commission’s Operation and Finance Committee added a resolution to the commission’s April 18 agenda that would make it unlawful to discriminate against local members of the LGBTQ community in appointments, employment, and promotions. Before the vote was taken, however, one of our local pastors, the Rev. Dr. Tim McCoy of Ingleside Baptist Church, spoke against the resolution.
Tim and I were both Ph.D. students at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, so I was saddened that one of my classmates and a good man, would urge the committee members to vote against an anti-discrimination resolution. Of course, the effect of Tim’s advice is that citizens and Christians like him should be in favor of discrimination — at least where LGBTQ persons are concerned. So permit me to respond to some of his points, as one Baptist preacher to another.
First, Tim insisted that he was addressing the committee as a mere citizen and not as the pastor of one of the largest and most influential churches in Bibb County. But then why was it necessary for him to identity himself as having served as “the lead pastor of Ingleside Baptist Church for 27 years?” Why mention that at all? Perhaps to lend a religious authority to his arguments?
Second, Tim wondered if the resolution was needed, and asked what evidence existed that any LGBT person had actually been discriminated against in Macon. But even if an example of such discriminatory behavior has never been committed in so pure and godly a town as Macon, don’t we all know from human nature that sooner or later a lesbian, gay or transgendered person will be treated with indignity, even here in our “city of churches.” Would we have to wait until someone actually killed someone before we passed a law against murder?
Third, Tim is concerned that such a law might inadvertently teach “that the Judeo-Christian worldview is not only false, but discriminatory and rooted in animus.” Even if the Judeo-Christian worldview did rise or fall with its supposed rejection of homosexuality, in the American system, and especially with the multicultural nature of contemporary America, it is not the role of city government to teach the Judeo-Christian worldview. If Tim wants to teach that worldview to his congregants at Ingleside, he is free to do so. But the responsibility of city government must provide “equal protection” and “equal justice” under the law.
But Americans who don’t share that worldview, don’t interpret the Bible as Tim does, and who may not even view the Bible as the authoritative word of God should have the same rights as Americans who are Christians and who do believe the Bible. The problem is that Dr. McCoy wants to give LGBTQ persons fewer rights, while giving Christians who agree with him more rights — namely the right to discriminate with impunity. This is also the agenda behind the spate of the “religious liberty” laws being advanced in many states and municipalities across the country..
Sadly, time was when the first Baptist preachers in this country advocated a religious liberty for all citizens — a religious liberty of inclusion instead of one designed to exclude persons because of different lifestyles or religious beliefs.
Andrew Manis, Ph.D., is professor of History at Middle Georgia State University.