Faith, God and Family: Finding the Silver Lining

worst enemy

Although hard to see, there is always a silver lining to everything that happens

By: Paul P. Jesep*/TRT Columnist—
Rose-colored glasses are not part of my wardrobe. In fact, I tend to lean toward the jaded side, but on a good day I can be a pragmatic-optimist, or an optimistic-realist. Other times I’m a moody, introspective bear with a sign around my neck reading, “Although cute, don’t feed.” I’d also call myself a guarded romantic, but I may share that comedy for a different column.

British sitcoms have always been a favorite. Some I call “serious-comedies” because they deal with the difficult realities of life while trying to find humor in events that otherwise could be overwhelming. Or they try to find the sweet in the bitter. They can be hopeful without giving false hope.

I’m no Pollyanna, but there can be a silver lining in many harsh realities.

Although money can be the source of many social ills like greed and exploitation, for example, it can serve as an unlikely source of positive change. Economics can be a jarring reality check for many people. You can see it in today’s immigration battle. Large technology companies lined up to oppose President Donald Trump’s poorly-crafted executive order putting a moratorium on persons entering the United States from Muslim countries.

The companies did so, in part because it was immoral, but also because it would hurt technology development and, in the long-term, corporate profits.

This isn’t to suggest people don’t make decisions to do the right thing based on ethics, values, and morality, but frequently there’s a financial component. Follow the money. The involvement of money can be a double-edged sword. Often people act or vote with their wallets or pocketbooks.

I’d like to think First Daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner acted on personal ethics, values, and morality to stop a draft presidential executive order that would have allowed broad legal exemptions for faith-based LGBTQ discrimination.

Donald Trump doesn’t care if you have green hair with polka dots all over your body so long as you can get the job done. Again, there’s a financial element here. Gay or straight. Make him money, or, now that he’s president, get the job done.

Recently, Vice President Michael Pence, an evangelical conservative, previously at the center of national attention over an anti-LGBTQ religious freedom law while governor of Indiana, has been evasive as to what the president will do about fulfilling a campaign promise to social conservatives regarding LGBTQ civil and human rights.

Ironically, the vice president found himself defending President Trump’s decision to renew President Barack Obama’s executive order prohibiting LGBTQ discrimination involving the federal government. Why? Gay management at Trump Hotels? His daughter and son-in-law? Both?

At some point, efforts may be made to limit or scale back LGBTQ civil and human rights. If it occurs, I wonder how long a business would stay open if its discrimination is based on a religious belief.

Once it’s marked as being discriminatory, sales will drop. Businesses inclined to withhold services will give in and over time people will wonder what the big deal was all about. By the way, do you really want to go to a restaurant forced to serve you and wonder if the cook spit in your food?

A recent analysis of 40,509 interviews by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) in 2016, found a majority of Americans both support marriage equality and oppose religious freedom laws.

The level of support for both grows. Sometimes money does drive the discussion and ironically it can change hearts and minds in the long term.

In addition, if people start boycotting any business that uses religion to discriminate, it will cause enormous problems.

Take it a step further—does discrimination based on faith permit anti-Semitism when someone who is Jewish doesn’t accept Jesus as his or her Lord and Savior? The scenarios are many and it has the potential to become a dark comedy for everyone. The Christian-right may do well to remember the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for, you may get it.”

Imagine if gay-friendly businesses posted on their websites they don’t sell to persons not supportive of LGBTQ civil and human rights. What would happen? Yep, there’s a silver lining here. In the long-term, it will be Okay.

*Paul Jesep is a corporate chaplain, lawyer in the Albany, NY area, and author of “Lost Sense of Self & the Ethics Crisis.”

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