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Arizona: A case study in repeated bigotry

Reginald J. Clyne | 3/6/2014, 9 a.m.

Arizona is a case study in bigotry. While many African Americans may be turning a deaf ear to the recent furor over the anti-gay bill that was recently vetoed by Governor Brewer, it was not too long ago that the State was being boycotted because it did not want to recognize the  Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday.  In 1983, President

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Reginald J. Clyne

Reagan after much pressure, created a National Holiday celebrating Martin Luther King. The Arizona

Legislature would not enact a law making it a holiday in Arizona.  On May 16, 1986, Governor Babbit of Arizona by executive order created the holiday on a Sunday on a church pulpit. His successor, Governor Evan Meacham as his first executive act rescinded the holiday. This created a national furor. Stevie Wonder began a boycott, when he cancelled a show in Arizona. By May 1987, 17 meetings had been cancelled and the State lost several million in revenue. In 1990, a statewide referendum failed to enact a public holiday.  In response, the NFL moved the 1993 Super Bowl from Arizona to California. Finally, in 1992, the Arizona voters passed a

The idea that laws are being passed to allow discrimination against a person based on their sexual orientation is scary.  Our country is taking a giant leap backward when discrimination is being codified again.

referendum creating the MLK Holiday.

Now fast forward to 2014, when the  Arizona legislature under the pretense of religious freedom passes a law allowing businesses to have the right not to serve gay people and others based on religious belief.  I assume the religion in question is Christianity, although the scriptural support for hating and discriminating against one group over another does not seem in keeping with the actions of Jesus.  In fact, Jesus was criticized for fraternizing with tax collectors (sinners) by the Pharisees.  In response, Jesus stated “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17.  Jesus contrary to the  contemporary thought of the religious leaders of his time did mingle and eat and heal those who were despised, looked down upon and deemed unclean.   Jesus life is replete with helping the poor, healing the sick, and most importantly not spurning sinners.  Jesus healed the Roman Centurion’s servant (Luke 7:3), he allowed a sinful woman to wipe her tears from his feet with her hair and to perfume his feet (Luke7:36-50), he allowed his power to heal the bleeding woman, who was unclean by Jewish standards. (Luke8:43-48), he spent time at house of Zacchaeus, a tax collector and a sinner  and was criticized once again for being the “guest of a sinner”(Luke 19:1-9).

In light of Jesus actions, it seems that the Arizona Legislature, like the Pharisees and Sadduces, has got it wrong.  Hating your neighbor is not a Christian act.  Being a hypocrite and claiming that one type of person is not worthy of service at a restaurant, hotel, etc. is not based on the tenets of Christianity as preached by Jesus. We are all sinners. Our salvation is not from our acts, but from faith. Jesus cautioned us not to judge others, for in the same way you judge others, you will judged. (Matthew 7:1-5)

The idea that laws are being passed to allow discrimination against a person based on their sexual orientation is scary.  Our country is taking a giant leap backward when discrimination is being codified again.  As Black Americans, who for a majority of the history of this country have been deemed lesser because of our race, we should not stand quiet when another group is subject to the same type of treatment.   “Separate but equal”  means not equal.