Tobias Schlingensiepen: Legislators aren’t on a quest to make Kansas a more Christ-like state. It’s about power.
Tobias Schlingensiepen is the senior minister of the First Congregational Church in Topeka as well as serving in the House of Representatives, which gives him a unique perspective on the drive for “religious freedom.”
For years, as a pastor, I have seen this ploy taking shape in pulpits across the state. Now, as a state legislator, I see long-held plans coming to fruition in Kansas’s chief lawmaking body. From banning mental health care for our trans children to state-sanctioned discrimination of all transgender Kansans, a litany of bills were pushed this year to completely erase members of the LGBTQ community from public life.
The proponents of these bills? Conservative political think-tanks centered on the idea of “religious freedom.” Apparently, that freedom doesn’t extend to everyone.
What these national partisan organizations won’t tell you is that each one of these bills is polled, message-tested and primed to elicit a reaction from a specific subset of voters. This is not some noble quest to make Kansas a more moral, Christ-like state. It is a calculated, political tactic to divide people, win elections and tighten their grip on power.
Unfortunately, too many churches have bought into this scheme.
Rather than act as a refuge for the downtrodden, some sectors of American Christianity have adopted the role of morality police, supposedly on God’s behalf. The problem is, their ideological crusade is based on their own worldly goals — not on the will of God.
As Christians, we may fail to live up to the most rigorous standards of our faith, but to manipulate the criteria and attack others out of some personal need to be seen as righteous is the very definition of sin.