City leadership continues making questionable decisions
The condition of our local and national politics has made our political engagement vital to the survival of our democracy. In Owensboro, specifically, our skepticism around the decision-making of our local politicians has grown dramatically over the past decade as taxes increase annually and unnecessary development projects continue. While working-class Owensboroans seek a second job to make ends meet, depression rises among our youth and seniors struggle to find adequate care.
Our city leadership refuses to prioritize the concerns and needs of the community. The attempt by city leaders to annex several county properties is just one of the recent decisions that force us to question their ability to address the city's budget and pension concerns with care and sensitivity for working-class people, youth and seniors.
For example, read the recent Messenger-Inquirer article about City Commissioner Jeff Sanford seeking revisions to Article 21 to allow for residential living in our city's downtown buildings. Our downtown has been at the center of our local politics for over a decade, so it is not shocking that our leaders are looking for innovative measures to make it more livable. However, the article presents a troubling fact. City Commissioner Larry Conder owns commercial and residential space downtown and will be a primary beneficiary of this change. Instances like this produce justified skepticism about our elected politicians' motives, providing more reasons for us to continue to engage or re-engage in politics through voting and community accountability measures.
Will ordinance be 'fair' to Christians?
My concern about a fairness ordinance is just how fair would it be. Some individuals have used laws like these as weapons against anyone unwilling to support the LGBTQIA+ lifestyles. A Google search on fairness lawsuits reveals lawsuits filed against Christians who exercised their religious convictions.
Would the Owensboro ordinance require churches to hire LGBTQIA+ individuals as staff if applied for? If those churches refused to hire them, would they face a lawsuit and all the expenses that entail? I think this community needs to know just how fair any fairness ordinance would be before it's enacted.
The First Amendment guarantees us freedom of religion. What we see trumpeted today is "freedom of worship," which limits the free exercise of Christianity to the church rather than the public square. Many fairness suits were filed because Christian business owners exercised their faith in business decisions and were sued for it. Christianity is a journey toward Christlikeness and that journey happens in the public square. Christlikeness comes out of the daily decisions of conscience and convictions that Christians make as they deal with the issues of life.
Would the Owensboro fairness ordinance ban a Christian's convictions from the public square? Would it limit a Christian's convictions to the church house alone? If it does, then it is "prohibiting the free exercise" of Christians to practice their faith and that would not be fair at all.