A Publishing Company *and* a Ministry

Chalice Press is a publishing company, but Chalice Press is also a ministry. Other corporate publishers are in the Christian publishing business to make money, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But as a publisher founded on Christian principles that is an active part of a Christian community and faith tradition, when our authors are those called to be 21st-century prophets for justice and equality, we feel called to speak up when lawmakers consider or approve discriminatory legislation.

Our company is incorporated in Missouri, but we also have a physical presence in Georgia, where our warehouse is, and North Carolina, where an employee lives. All three states have engaged in legislation recently that has compelled us to raise our corporate voice as a Christian ministry.

Flag_of_Georgia_(U.S._state)

First, Missouri, where the legislature is currently considering a proposed constitutional amendment, Senate Joint Resolution 39 (see the Update below). Here’s how the Associated Press describes SJR 39:

The proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitution would prohibit government penalties against those who cite “a sincere religious belief” while declining to provide goods or services of “expressional or artistic creation” for same-sex marriage ceremonies or celebrations. The measure cites photographers and florists as examples of those who could be covered.

Businesses would be protected if they deny services for a wedding or a reception that happens around the time of the wedding.

The measure also would shield clergy and worship places that decline to participate in such weddings.

Here’s how we describe it: Deeply incompatible with our religious beliefs. SJR 39 would enshrine discrimination against the LGBTQIA community in the Missouri Constitution. It is also bad social policy in a country that should set the world standard for equality.

We also see SJR 39 as harmful to the Missouri economy, which will impact our employees and our communities, as well as our own business should boycotts be implemented.

We’ve sent letters of protests to leaders of the Missouri Senate, which saw an epic 37-hour filibuster broken by a procedural vote earlier this month, and the Missouri House of Representatives, which hasn’t yet taken up the bill as of this writing. Time and the Missouri House will determine whether this discriminatory legislation appears on our November ballot.

Next, Georgia. In the past week we’ve written to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal urging him to veto House Bill 757, which has much in common with Missouri’s proposed constitutional amendment. We’re pleased that our letter won’t arrive in time to influence the decision; on Monday, Gov. Deal vetoed the bill, saying Georgia is a state full of “warm, friendly and loving people” who “work side by side without regard to the color of our skin, or the religion we adhere to.” Preach, Governor Deal, preach!

No such luck in North Carolina. In the past week we’ve also protested to leaders in that state, which passed House Bill 2, overturning local LGBT equality legislation allowing transgender individuals to use public bathrooms for the sex they identify as and banning cities from passing such legislation. This hideous legislation was reportedly written behind closed doors, raced through the legislature during a special session, and signed into law in an incredulously quick pace usually reserved for disaster declarations. Our hope is that legislators will do an about-face; our expectation is that the courts will overturn this legislation. Either way, everything about this legislation and the process leading to its passage is deeply troubling.

It would be easy to turn away from this legislation, to hope legislators will come to their senses, quit pandering to their bases, and forever swear off legislation that unambiguously and unabashedly discriminates in an effort to get more of “their people” to the polls on Election Day. It would be easy to hope the judiciary will right the wrongs, and soon. It would be easy to hope these laws go unenforced or ignored. But in today’s hyper-polarized world, who knows?

If lawmakers won’t come around, then it’s time for the activists to rise up. I’m proud Chalice Press supports the activists who oppose these laws and that we are able to join the chorus in some way, even if we can’t protest in person. Let’s hope common sense returns to statehouses and that we can turn our focus back to the work and ministry we love.

Gratefully,

Brad-signature

 

P.S. Chalice Press is an imprint of the Christian Board of Publication, which is a 501c3 non-profit corporation. That legislation allows companies to be involved in political activity as long as specific candidates are not being endorsed. We respect that line and don’t cross it.


Update: On April 27, the Emerging Issues Committee of the Missouri House of Representatives split 6-6 on this bill, which most likely killed the bill for the session.


 

Brad Lyons is president and publisher of Chalice Press.