On Missing the Mark

People, people, people.

I beg of you. Please stop hating in the name of Christ.

In response to the Religious Freedom Act passed in Mississippi (that basically protects business owners from being sued by gay rights groups should they refuse to do business with someone because of their sexual orientation based on religious beliefs), a group of business owners has begun posting stickers that let people know that they are not going to discriminate against anyone but those without any money in their pockets.

Now the American Family Association has accused the people displaying stickers that say “we don’t discriminate” of discriminating…against religious freedom. This has got to be one of the weirdest arguments I’ve ever heard.  If I could remember much about that logic class I took in college, I could probably give a name to why the claim doesn’t work at all. But since that was too long ago, I’ll just ask Christians to stop claiming that people who welcome everyone are somehow bullying those who don’t.  It just makes you (us!) look hateful and ridiculous.

Just to demonstrate how ridiculous it is, I’ll offer up this example:

We here at First Pres in Argenta are very facial hair friendly. We have a number of bearded members.

The Church of the Latter Day Saints has long discouraged facial hair and even prohibits it for temple workers. But so far, our church has not been accused of being anti-Mormon or of undermining the Mormon faith by welcoming hairy faces.  Because that would be ridiculous.

I don’t mean to be disrespectful of anyone’s deeply held religious convictions, but when people who claim Christ start accusing people who offer hospitality and inclusion of being bullies, a mark has been missed. The term “missing the mark” comes from archery and is used when an archer’s arrow falls short of the target. The Greek word for the phrase is hamartia, and it is the word Paul uses for sin, as in “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

In my understanding of the Gospel, it is already missing the mark to exclude people in the name of Christ, but when you start accusing those who are willing to welcome and include of being anti-Christian bullies, then you’re not even trying to hit the target.


–Rev. Anne Russ



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