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-A Shifting Definition of Religious Freedom?

by Dr. D ~ April 18th, 2015

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An article by Eric Metaxis in the Christian Post cites some of the latest responses to religious freedom and same-sex marriage. The involvement of the media in the whole process seems to be escalating to a new level where Christians are now being persecuted and silenced when it comes to this issue. Some radical writers are now blatantly questioning whether religious freedom should be curtailed when it comes to homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Metaxis writes that this is tantamount to the establishment of a new mandatory ‘established religion’ in America. In some instances government civil rights laws are forcing a change but mostly it is coming though new cultural PC dictums. From the CP article:

It’s almost become a part of the weekly news cycle: American citizens publicly tarred and feathered for professing their sincerely held religious beliefs.

Just this month, we watched a family-owned pizzeria close its doors after its owners received hate mail and death threats from around the country. Their offense? Giving the wrong answer to a question about whether they’d cater a gay wedding. Keep in mind that the restaurant had never actually turned down a gay customer. They were hammered for holding the wrong beliefs about a hypothetical scenario!…

The message is clear: not only should Christians remain silent about gay marriage if we know what’s good for us, but we must be made to agree with and even celebrate what Scripture calls sin.  …

<Read the whole article>
Response: Metaxis in his excellent article questions what it will be like for conservative Christians to stand up for their beliefs in the future following the presumed ruling by the Supreme Court supporting same-sex marriage this summer. Like myself, he believes that it is time for silent Christians to stand up and be counted.              *Top

-Religion: The New PC Dirty Word in Schools?

by Dr. D ~ April 16th, 2015

Is ‘religion’ becoming the new politically correct ‘dirty word’ in academic circles? We asked this question last week about ‘religious freedom.’ Citizen Link finds that there is a problem about what to do with religion on school campuses all across America in spite of the fact that we have a Constitution that addresses religious freedom and a siting Supreme Court that has ruled on this issue recently. From Citizen Link:

Religious freedom is the First Amendment right of all citizens – even those who work for and attend public schools.

Even so, kids, teachers and administrators of faith are facing great challenges to their constitutional rights on campuses. From the New Jersey teacher who was fired for giving a Bible to a student, to the Colorado high school senior who was told he couldn’t meet and pray with his peers during free time, religious freedom is at risk in our schools.

Gary Beckner of the Association of American Educators tells CitizenLink that all Americans deserve to live out their First Freedoms – no matter where they choose to go to school.

Response: The American culture is changing so quickly in respect to religion that it is hard for teachers and school administrators to keep up and draw the line between what is lawful and not so much. Add to that the fact that in academic circles ‘religion’ is increasingly becoming the new PC ‘dirty word’ and the growing secularism among educators, many would like to just prohibit any kind of religion or religious practice on school campuses.

Meanwhile, according to the US Supreme Court, students have a right to practice and have equal access to their religion as long as it is not officially sponsored by teachers or school administrators. Therefore there are no lawful prohibitions against students or teachers privately praying and reading religious literature on campus during their free times. Students can even discuss their religious beliefs together without breaking the law.

School districts need to pass on literature defining the real laws respecting schools and religion to their teachers and administrators in order to cut down on unfortunate strictures and actions against students and teachers that are clearly illegal.               

 *Top

-Canadian Poll: Most Believe Islam Incompatible with Western Society Including 42% of Canadian Muslims

by Dr. D ~ April 15th, 2015

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Recent polls show that most Canadians believe that Islam is incompatible with Western society including 42% of the Canadian Muslims. From Breitbart:

Two recently-released polls found that 42 percent of Canadian Muslims agree that Islam is “irreconcilable” with Western society.

The surveys also found that over 60 percent of Jewish and Christian Canadians believe that Islam is incompatible with the West. Among secular Canadians, 46 percent shared the “irreconcilable” viewpoint, the Vancouver Sun reported.

The polls asked 2,000 individuals and its surveying took place in 2013 and 2014.

…Ezra Levant of Rebel Media said that the poll was important because it discussed a “sensitive subject” matter that is largely avoided by “politically correct journalists.”

<Read the whole article>

Response: In reality it is impossible to reconcile the teachings of Muhammad and the Quran with Western values, freedoms, and government. No one in the media or among Western progressives in higher education really wants to admit to this fact. It is considered tantamount to ‘Islamophopbia.’

Islam is far different than other world religions like Christianity in that it not only has provisions for individual and corporate faith and worship but comes intact with cultural and government laws and organization. Therefore, Muslims in the West are only able to practice a small part of their religion.

Only 42% of Canadian Muslims will admit that there is a problem reconciling Islam with the dominant culture they live in. While this is actually a large number, I believe that far more would be willing to admit incompatible and irreconcilable problems in private –‘unofficially.’  Individual Muslims that I have talked to in the past have freely admitted that they have a real hope that one day a majority will be converted to Islam and that our culture and government will eventually be changed to reflect that new reality.

Meanwhile, folks in the media and in academia have, what I believe, is an irrational hope that Muslims in the West, since they are free to individually practice their religion, will somehow be happy to adapt and reform their religion to forego all of the teaching in the Quran and elsewhere that demand full cultural and governmental compliance to Islam. The 42% says otherwise.            *Top

-Pastor Who Requested ‘Anti-Gay Marriage’ Cake Threatened with Legal Action?

by Dr. D ~ April 14th, 2015

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This is the flip side of the usual situation and yet it is the Christian who is in trouble regardless. Quite a few Christian bakery owners who refused to produce cakes for same-sex marriages have gotten in trouble all across America. In this case a pastor asked a bakery for a cake with an ‘anti-gay marriage’ message (“We do not support gay marriage”) and the baker refused but it is the pastor who may face legal trouble instead. From Breitbart:

The latest skirmish in an ongoing battle between Christians and gay rights campaigners began when pastor Josh Feuerstein called Cut the Cake in Longwood, Florida to request a sheet cake with the slogan “We do not support gay marriage” written on it.

Sharon Haller, owner of Cut the Cake, who took the call, asked Feuerstein whether the request was a prank (it took place on April 1st), before refusing to bake the cake saying “We wouldn’t do that, sorry”. She then hung up without explaining her reasons.T

he brief call was recorded by Feuerstein who then turned to the camera to give his views on the debate currently taking place.

Feuerstein posted the video to YouTube, …

(The Bakery owner) …threatened to take Feuerstein to court, and is reported to have already reached out to the FBI to investigate whether charges could be brought against Feuerstein for a hate crime.

(Read the whole article)

Response: I really do not like the pastor’s action in this case since it may have hurt the bakery’s business. Yet, even though this incident supposedly hurt her business, the bakery owner put the offending ‘hate speech’ video up on their business website after the pastor took it down from YouTube? In the end, both parties claim to have received numerous unwanted threatening phone calls and the baker is looking into suing the pastor over it all.

My take is that gay and LGBT activists have become involved in this case and are encouraging the bakery owner to take it way beyond where anyone intended for it to go originally. It has become a ‘cause celebre’ on hundreds of progressive LGBT support sites.

In the mean time, the pastor is being investigated for some kind of ‘hate crime’? None of this make any sense anymore and free speech and religious liberty are continuing to be compromised when it comes to the same-sex marriage issue. Now opposing it in anyway is considered to be ‘hate speech’?           *Top

-Is Supporting Religious Freedom Political Suicide?

by Dr. D ~ April 11th, 2015

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In his Politico column this week, Roger Simon indicates that supporting ‘religious freedom’ is now political suicide:

There is a poison pill inside the Republican Party and if its presidential hopefuls keep swallowing it, they are going to choke off their chances for the White House.  …

And by taking the poison pill that the religious right offers, the potential candidates risk alienating the rest of the nation.

Witness the events of the past few days: Indiana’s Legislature had passed a “religious freedom” law on March 25.

<Read the whole article>

Simon seems to be implying that ‘religious freedom’ is a lost cause that politicians should stay completely away from. He cites the debacle in Indiana and the probable demise of the White House hopes of Gov. Mike Pence as evidence to support his contention.

In an article in Breitbart, Thomas D. Williams takes issue with Simon’s conclusions:

Christians believe that they should avoid “cooperating in evil,” a technical term that refers to more than just tolerance or respect, and involves active participation. Serving homosexuals or white supremacists or abortionists in one’s restaurant does not imply agreement with their extracurricular activities. It simply recognizes the essential dignity of every person and the right to be treated the same as everybody else. No one should be turned away, regardless of their beliefs or practices.

By the same token, however, no one should be made to “cooperate” in activities that they believe to be morally evil. …

America has a grand tradition of conscientious objection, exempting people from activities that they believe to be morally wrong. No pro-life doctor should be coerced into performing an abortion, no Quaker should be coerced into fighting on the front and no Christian should be coerced into supporting same-sex marriage.

Sometimes doing the right thing does not prove to be politically expedient, and it takes integrity and heroism to do it anyway.

<Read the whole article>

Response: A lot depends upon ones world view. If you believe in divinely defined absolutes, right and wrong, and good and evil than what is culturally PC or ‘politically expedient’ should not be the last word. Unfortunately few politicians still have that kind of integrity. I certainly hope that Simon is wrong in his assertions and that there is still room for people of faith and conscience on the political scene.

Williams  presents the time honored way out of this dilemma- ‘a grand tradition of conscientious objection’ that has protected the rights of moral minorities since the founding of this nation.   Unfortunately, progressives like Simon seem to offer support for every kind of minority except conservative Christians.         *Top

-NY Times: Christians ‘Must be Made’ to Accept Gay Lifestyle?

by Dr. D ~ April 9th, 2015

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…’’

The battle against traditional Christian Biblical beliefs has continued to escalate since the Indiana RFRA debacle. Gay and progressive activists have been so encouraged by the one-sided media coverage against ‘freedom of religion’ lately that now they have, I believe, begun to ‘jump the shark’ with some key people calling for Christians to be forced to change Church teaching and be made to accept the gay and LGBT lifestyle.

Now from the New York Times, which is considered by many to be America’s  leading newspaper, comes an article by Frank Bruni which I believe calls for radical action against conservative Christians:

And homosexuality and Christianity don’t have to be in conflict in any church anywhere.

That many Christians regard them as incompatible is understandable, an example not so much of hatred’s pull as of tradition’s sway. Beliefs ossified over centuries aren’t easily shaken.

But in the end, the continued view of gays, lesbians and bisexuals as sinners is a decision. It’s a choice. It prioritizes scattered passages of ancient texts over all that has been learned since — as if time had stood still, as if the advances of science and knowledge meant nothing.

It disregards the degree to which all writings reflect the biases and blind spots of their authors, cultures and eras.

It ignores the extent to which interpretation is subjective, debatable.

And it elevates unthinking obeisance above intelligent observance, above the evidence in front of you, …

…church leaders must be made “to take homosexuality off the sin list.”

<Read the whole article>

Response: So according to this NYT writer it is not a matter of ‘freedom of religion’ but ignorance and choice. His reasoning seems to be, that religious beliefs which are nothing more than uneducated ignorance (according to Bruni) should never be allowed to be a legal excuse for discrimination in spite of the fact that ‘freedom of religion’ is suppose to be protected by the First Amendment.

Since some mainline liberal Protestant denominations have been ‘enlightened’ and have accepted homosexuality and same-sex marriage than Frank Bruni of the preeminent NY Times concludes that the traditional Biblical teachings are merely ignorant subjective interpretations that need to be debated and changed. He catalogs all of the books and articles supporting the acceptance of homosexuality within the church but conveniently fails to mention any of the many books extant that continue to support the Bible.

Since “Conservative Christian religion is the last bulwark against full acceptance of L.G.B.T. people,” the thinking among Christians must be changed? That is what this writer is suggesting. Conservative Christian churches must become more like their liberal mainline brothers and turn their backs upon traditional Biblical teaching: …church leaders must be made “to take homosexuality off the sin list.”

In essence this writer and many progressives like him today are suggesting that the First Amendment and ‘freedom of religion’ needs to be reevaluated, redefined, limited, and trumped by LGBT rights. How will this be played out in the future?

The future is already here with conservative Christians being persecuted and discriminated against. Christian businesses being fined and shut down, Christian chaplains and firemen losing their jobs and a CEO and college professor that supported traditional marriage pressured to resign. The culling has already begun. Soon every church and ministry in America will be forced to choose between the Bible and an ever increasing secular American culture where religious liberty is now understood to be limited to ‘freedom of worship’ within the four walls of ones own home or official place of worship.

One interesting side to all of this controversy. Notice that no one has suggested that Muslims need to give up their traditional Islamic teaching against homosexuality which is found in the Quran. After all, any writer making that sort of  suggestion or observation would be guilty of ‘Islamophobia’ –another progressive sacred cow. So in a few years, if the strategy for ‘forced change’ suggested by this NYT writer and other progressives is successful, then the First Amendment will continue to fully apply to Muslims but for conservative Bible believing Christians -not so much?            *Top

-Now ‘Religious Freedom’ is Offensive?

by Dr. D ~ April 7th, 2015

See the video above for the Citizen Link response to the debacle in Indiana and what it means for religious freedom in America.

Response: Early on this nation was founded in a large part by folks escaping the old world seeking freedom to believe and live out their religious convictions without interference from the government. Freedom of religion was a major American value that found its way into the founding documents of this nation including the First Amendment.

Judging from the over-the-top reaction from the media in America to Indiana’s RFRA provision is ‘Religious Freedom’ now offensive? Are they words along with ‘Religious Liberty’ that are now added to the growing progressive PC list of profanity like ‘islamophobia’?  Does seem that way since these cherished principles of freedom are now being assailed and characterized as merely a pretense for discrimination and tantamount to the establishment of a new set of ‘Jim Crow’  laws with LGBT folks as the intended victims.

My question is this, if religious freedom is allowed to be compromised in America where will the ‘Pilgrims’ of the 21st century go?            *Top