Bil Lepp: If Carmichael says no discrimination, it must be true (Opinion)

“We just believe — is there a problem that exists in society? Is this occurring, the discrimination?” ponders Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, regarding the Fairness Act.

The leader of the West Virginia Senate can’t decide if some people in our state are treated unfairly.

“I guess when you are a straight, white dude in charge of the West Virginia Senate, you probably don’t encounter much discrimination,” noted my wife.

Could that be true? Is it possible that the West Virginia Senate president encounters less discrimination than other people?

The Fairness Act would make it illegal to fire or deny rental housing based sexual orientation or gender identity.

Carmichael does not believe you have been discriminated against. You may feel you encountered discrimination, or were fired or denied housing, but who are you to judge? Senate President Carmichael simply isn’t sure this is occurring.

“We want to communicate that any action or nonaction on this bill — if there is no action on the bill, that doesn’t mean we’re in any way discriminatory,” said Carmichael, referring to the Fairness Act.

Carmichael’s inability to see a problem, and his reference to “nonaction” and “no action” mirror some of the greatest minds in history.

Take for example Abe Lincoln’s famous: “I’m not sure there is a problem in our society.”

JFK’s great speech: “Ask not what your country can’t do for you, but rather what nonaction you can take for country.”

“Be the nonaction you want to see in the world,” said Gandhi.

Certainly the inaction of Germans in the 1930s didn’t result in any catastrophic discrimination.

Nonaction is almost always the best solution to injustice.

Who can forget Jesus’ famous statement in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are those who take no action.”

Speaking of Jesus, quite a few Christian leaders and lay people have clearly expressed their support of this bill. But other Christians don’t want the Fairness Act passed. Those Christians seem to think that allowing the LGBTQ+ community the right to housing and job protection will keep Christians out of Heaven.

I don’t think anybody is going to be kept out of Heaven because they were too compassionate.

Jesus is explicit on who we Christians are supposed to care for. Mathew 25:35-40 establishes to whom, and how, Christians are to conduct themselves.

[Paraphrased] “‘For I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me ...’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? ... When did we see you sick ...?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these ..., you did for me.’”

Christians are to give aid and love to anyone in need. Jesus doesn’t say, “Whatever you did for straight, non-gay, non-queer, non-trans, Christians, you did for me.” Jesus says, “Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me.”

“The least of these” are not just those down and out folks you deem your brothers and sisters in Christ. “The least of these” is anyone who is being discriminated against or neglected no matter their gender identity, sexual orientation or belief system. Jesus expects you to feed and house everybody with the same love as you would your mother. Arguing that Jesus doesn’t want acts of fairness toward people you disagree with is wrong.

Mathew continues: “[Jesus] will reply, ‘... I tell you, whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me.’ ‘[Those who don’t help] will go away to eternal punishment ...”


“Whatever you did not do” is synonymous with “nonaction” and “no action.” If Mitch Carmichael, or the Senate, or the citizens of West Virginia, take no action on the Fairness Act, we are guilty of what Jesus is warning against.

The Fairness Act protects people from getting fired or getting kicked out of their houses, which could make those people homeless, hungry, thirsty and maybe sick. We are supposed to cure those societal ills, not create them.

Mitch Carmichael is saying that nonaction isn’t bad. Jesus is saying that nonaction is a sin. I guess you can decide who you want to believe.

Bil Lepp, of South Charleston, is a professional storyteller and Gazette-Mail contributing columnist.


Dyer, Lenora - 11 a.m., Perrow Presbyterian Church, Cross Lanes.

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