Mississippi has a long history of doing things its own way, and we have been the butt of many jokes because of it. I used to resent the jokes because so many people do not know what it is like to live in Mississippi, what it means to be a Mississippian. Now, however, even I am reconsidering what it means to be a Mississippian. Is this label something of which I can ever be proud? I just don’t know.
Recently, Mississippi has made the news again…mostly from various states openly proclaiming that they would no longer pay for official transportation from their states to ours. I appreciate the posture, Minnesota. I do. I am on your side. Of course, I am also going to take a stand against the African blood-diamond cartels by no longer purchasing extravagant diamond-encrusted jewelry. Wait? Did I ever? No, and I don’t mean to sound jaded, but how many good Minnesotans of deep conscience had you sent to Mississippi prior to the passage of HB 1523? Oh. So along with New York, Vermont, and Washington, what you mean is that you will continue to not send people here… as you had previously not sent people here. Again, go team. I get it. Trust me, we are used to it. Hey, if there were a 51st state clamoring for our title of “America’s Favorite Third World Country,” we would be unbearably cocky about it: “They so stupid. And poor. Just look at’em! Ha!” Hence, the expression heard all over the legislative halls of Alabama: “Thank God for Mississippi,” which in no way suggests that they are praying for the betterment of our people and well-being, by the way; it means that without us, they would be last.
The law in question is House Bill 1523 (HB 1523). Section One states nothing more than the name of the act, which is telling in and of itself: “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act.” This act was designed to “provide certain protections regarding a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction for persons, religious organizations, and private associations.” Whatever is this in response to? Why did our great state pass this law? I suppose it is our long memory and our logical way of thinking. Allow me to demonstrate: after being forced to end slavery, and then forced to end Jim Crow laws, and then forced to integrate (practically all) our public schools, and then forced to take prayer out of these newly integrated schools, the State of Mississippi received a pigeon bearing news that we was about to be forced once again into some unholy, secular pact: the marryin’ of the gays. Lord, I seen it comin’ since homuhsekshality was invented back in the Sixties! I felt the ground tremble as people rolled over in their graves. Great day in the mornin’. I can see the thorns on the crown of our Savior; that is how close he is to coming back for Judgment Day. This is it! Dear Lord, O, Dear Lord, I knew you left California and Florida attached ‘cause you was awaitin’ on us all to fall under the yoke of Satan’s Federal Gub’ment. Well, not so Mis’sippi. When the Rapture comes and those hundred and forty-four thousand get taken up to their heavenly reward, it’s gone be them Christians in Israel and the whole state of Mis’sippi, Lord. Yes, it is. Praise Jesus.
You should be horrified at how accurate I am. This is the “thought” process. Trust me. Additionally, the language of the law may be a problem. It seems that the people who wrote this bill were educated here as well, that is to say, poorly. One of the problems that the law makers will run into is the assumption of consensus on the definition of “sincerely held religious belief.” This is Mississippi, where the phrase intimates “sincerely held Christian belief” of a certain flavor, and if anyone believes any differently, he is lying to himself. When is Mississippi going to pass laws closing businesses on Yom Kippur or recognizing Sharia law in the case of some uppity Muslim woman? I wouldn’t hold my breath. In all fairness, I can see the bakers’ issue. If I truly did hold a particular distaste for any certain celebration, I can imagine that I would not like to be forced to participate by way of pastry. Now that I think of it, this is probably why there is such a paucity of Jehovah’s Witness bakeries; they don’t really celebrate anything, and I can imagine that they would probably not want to anger Jesus by filling unclean birthday parties with lovingly crafted Jehovah’s Witness cakes. What if someone asked for a King Cake for one of those pagan Catholic Mardi Gras parties? The list of objections is never-ending.
The scope of this bill is far reaching and hate-filled, and if this legislation is what it means to be a Mississippi Christian, then I am glad I am not one. Under this legislation, which not only “protects” bakers who don’t wish to make wedding cakes for homosexual weddings, people are allowed to deny gay couples housing, etc., as long as that person has a “sincerely held religious belief.” In the case of marriage licenses, which the aforementioned Satanic Gub’ment is forcing us to issue to these unholy alliances, clerks in municipal or federal offices may “recuse” themselves from serving the same-sex couple so long as there is someone else on hand lined up to do it in their stead. I find this to be a very Christian attitude: holding firm to one’s convictions (i.e., biases, prejudices) by throwing one’s co-worker or supervisor under Satan’s bus. What would Jesus do?
The blatant hypocrisy of the law’s supporters is maddening. These people are so thrilled that their beliefs are finally being recognized legally after centuries of Christians being forced to hide in basements and caves, never having been allowed to show the love and compassion of Christ in public for fear of ridicule. Yes, this pervading sense of persecution sickens me. The idea that the federal government would mandate an end to religiously-enforced hatred and bias is too much for us. According to this act, section 2, clauses a and b, the people of conviction in question believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman where sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage. Now, call me caustic for paying attention, but I know people who have praised this act, yet have not a single legitimate biological grandchild. I am sorry, and I do hate to pay attention here, but did not the wording of the law suggest that procreative activities were reserved for within the sacred union? I guess we’ll just have to hate the sin and love the sinner, like the bumper sticker, excuse me, Bible says.
In case anyone doesn’t see where this is headed, let me clarify it for you. I know store owners who have been waiting sixty years to take the locks off those old side doors. Before you know it, the state of Mississippi will treat our homosexuals so well that separate water fountains will be installed with tasteful little rainbow stickers to indicate who should drink from them. I have tried for forty years to be proud of Mississippi and, honestly, to make Mississippi proud of me, but this law is more than I can abide. I still have no intention of leaving, and playing nice wearies me. At this point, if Mississippi can’t be proud of me, then the state can revile me, and perhaps, if I am lucky, I will be sentenced to death for corrupting the youth of the state with my ideas.
*As of 01 July 2016, the bill in its entirety was struck down as unconstitutional by federal Judge Carlton Reeves. Although our guvner and his ilk hope for an “aggressive appeal,” this ruling does give me something I don’t get often: hope. (The factual details can be found in Jackson’s Clarion Ledger newspaper.)