There have been many times in recent months that I've thought of the late "philosopher" Rodney King, Jr., whose plaintive "Can we all just get along?" (often misquoted as "can't") resounded across the nation following the 1992 Los Angeles riots. (King, who died four years ago, was the police beating victim; an acquittal in the case involving four officers accused of harming him set off the disturbances.)
Can we all just get along, then, when it comes to gender and bathroom usage? And is there a spiritual and even doctrinal angle -- on one side of this public debate -- that is missing in the latest flush of coverage about North Carolina?
You probably know the background: A move early in 2016 by Charlotte's city council to allow transgender individuals to use the restroom of their choice in any "public accommodation" in the city brought a backlash from the North Carolina legislature, which outlawed such protections statewide. The state ban brought economic and artistic boycotts, and allegedly cost the state hundreds of jobs. The most prominent job loss might have been that of Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, who narrowly lost a re-election bid in November.
This week, a "compromise" of sorts was reached: Charlotte said it would repeal its ordinance if the legislature would "fully repeal" HB 2, the much-derided ban. The Charlotte repeal included some phrases legislative Republicans didn't like; the proposed state measures included wording the Democrats didn't like. The result: No repeal of HB2 and uncertainty in Charlotte.
So what's the religion angle, you ask? You will barely find it in the media coverage, such as The New York Times, which had reporters in Raleigh and Atlanta on the case: