New threats to religious freedom

I can’t believe that a city in the US would try to force ministers of the gospel to act contrary to their consciences in their practice of Christian ministry.  Yet that is exactly what is happening in the case of this couple from Idaho.

http://www.adfmedia.org/News/PRDetail/9364

The radical homosexual lobby will not stop at being allowed to do their own thing.  They also insist on forcing everyone else to agree with them which violates the right of others to disagree with their opinions and agenda.  I pray that the courts will uphold the first amendment rights of these ministers of the gospel on behalf of all of us.

If you think this is an  isolated case, think about the mayor of Houston who recently attempted to subpoena pastors’ sermons in her city to see what they were saying about her agenda.  Talk about government overreach!!   This was another attempt to violate first amendment rights.  She quickly realized that the move was political suicide and withdrew it.

One of the great things about our country is religious freedom.  Right now, this means that ministers in denominations which believe homosexual marriage is okay should be able to do such ceremonies if they also feel it is right.   But if religious freedom means anything at all, it means that ministers in groups that hold to traditional views that homosexual marriage is not in accord with Scriptural teaching, and ministers who individually feel the same way, cannot be forced to officiate at such unions.    It is their right in the United States of America to perform only those ceremonies that they feel comfortable in conscience to perform.

 

 

 

 

 

All private schooling endangered by the Justice Department’s arguments

I never thought I would see the sad day when the US government argued against both educational and religious freedom.  But it has just happened.  It sounds more and more like they are borrowing pages from totalitarian rulers of the 20th century.  The article below details a frightening argument advanced by the Justice dept. against the German homeschoolers who were seeking asylum.   The hidden agenda is obvious.  Use a low profile case to set a precedent against homeschoolers and religious schools in general.  If the arguments against the rights of parents to choose the education of their children that are advanced here were to become case law, it would soon endanger Catholic schools, Jewish schools, Amish schools, etc, as well as homeschooling.  This is unconscionable, un-American and even devilish as it represses religion too.   

I do not overstate the case as there are several fundamental freedoms disregarded and violated by the Justice department’s arguments.   First, the government serves and acts as an agent for the parents when it creates schools, not vice-versa.   The fundamental rights belong to the parents, not the government.   Second, if the schools created in a local area violate the religious or educational values of a family, it is the parent’s duty to seek or provide proper schooling for their children apart from the inadequate school.  If the reasons for change are religious, to force the family to attend the public school in violation of their religious principles is to violate their religious freedom.   If the reasons are educational, to force the children to attend the inadequate school is likely to suppress their achievement—their right to seek their own best welfare or happiness as the Declaration of Independence put it.   Either way, to deny the validity of such choices in America is unheard of until now. 

http://www.christianpost.com/news/banning-homeschools-teaches-tolerance-of-diverse-views-justice-dept-argues-99354/

Senate vote is very misguided

http://nbcpolitics.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/01/10548839-senate-defeats-limit-on-birth-control-coverage

It is very sad that the religious freedom of our country has become a partisan issue.  Somehow the spin artists have tried to make it a women’s issue rather than a religious freedom issue.   This is not about women’s rights; it is about religious liberty and freedom of expression of conscience for everyone.  I cannot believe that the U. S. Senate Democrats are too blinded by politics to see this.    I believe that Cardinal Dolan has expressed the issue well in this quote:

Religious freedom is a fundamental right of all. This right does not depend on any government’s decision to grant it: it is God-given, and just societies recognize and respect its free exercise. The free exercise of religion extends well beyond the freedom of worship. It also forbids government from forcing people or groups to violate their most deeply held religious convictions, and from interfering in the internal affairs of religious organizations.

Recent actions by the Administration have attempted to reduce this free exercise to a “privilege” arbitrarily granted by the government as a mere exemption from an all-encompassing, extreme form of secularism. The exemption is too narrowly defined, because it does not exempt most non-profit religious employers, the religiously affiliated insurer, the self-insured employer, the for-profit religious employer, or other private businesses owned and operated by people who rightly object to paying for abortion inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception. And because it is instituted only by executive whim, even this unduly narrow exemption can be taken away easily.

In the United States, religious liberty does not depend on the benevolence of who is regulating us. It is our “first freedom” and respect for it must be broad and inclusive—not narrow and exclusive. Catholics and other people of faith and good will are not second class citizens. And it is not for the government to decide which of our ministries is “religious enough” to warrant religious freedom protection.

This is not just about contraception, abortion-causing drugs, and sterilization—although all should recognize the injustices involved in making them part of a universal mandated health care program. It is not about Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals. It is about people of faith. This is first and foremost a matter of religious liberty for all. If the government can, for example, tell Catholics that they cannot be in the insurance business today without violating their religious convictions, where does it end? This violates the constitutional limits on our government, and the basic rights upon which our country was founded.

From the letter by Cardinal Dolan to the Catholic Bishops dated Feb. 22, 2012

The First Amendment covers institutions expressing religious convictions

 

Keystone of the Bill of Rights

http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2012/02/opinion_today_bishops_treating.html

This opinion is given great press by the Post Standard,  probably because they consider it politically correct.  But it contains an obvious logical disconnect.  The illogical assumption that is that institutions, because they are such, can be somehow disassociated from the values of the persons who founded them and/or run them.   That is patent nonsense.   It is as misguided as the idea of the college out West that recently tried to force student groups to accept leaders who do not agree with the fundamental purposes of the group.    It is preposterous for the same reason.  Institutions such as Catholic hospitals and church-related colleges are extensions of the values of the persons who created them and who continue to run them, values that are inculcated in the DNA of the institution.   If these values are an expression of a religious conviction, they fall directly under the First Amendment and are protected by it.   In addition, when the hospital or college is connected to a religious group, the values of the institution cannot be separated from the values of the sponsoring group.    The Bill of Rights is in place to protect the expression of religious faith whether by one person or a group of persons expressing themselves through an institution.   

I support Bishop Cunningham

http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2012/02/bishop_takes_up_catholics_chur.html

I wholeheartedly support the noncompliance stance of Bishop Robert J. Cunningham of the Syracuse Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church as he takes a firm stand against the Obama administration’s continuing assault upon religious liberty.   Obama’s move is a blatant attempt by pro-choice forces to expand their agenda and force people of faith to do things exactly counter to their conscience and beliefs.  Preventing such overreaches of power from treading down religious liberty is precisely why the first amendment was written. This Obama proposal is both unconscionable and unconstitutional.    It should be opposed by all people of any faith and party who value the first amendment.    It makes no difference whether the employer is the church directly or the hospital controlled by the church or a college directed by the church, such issues are still a matter of conscience protected by the first amendment and not to be trampled upon by the government.   Bishop Cunningham’s position is courageous and praiseworthy.   I call on evangelicals to stand behind him for the sake of freedom of religion and because we also are certainly targeted by such attacks from the current administration. 

 

Why we should pray at the 9/11 event.

http://blogs.wsj.com/metropolis/2011/09/09/bloomberg-sundays-911-ceremony-a-civil-not-religious-occasion/

 

I do not agree with Mayor Bloomsburg that there should  have been no prayers at the official 9/11 remembrance time.

Ken Klulowski wrote:  “Bloomberg’s sad exclusion of all prayer and clergy from the 9/11 ceremony is also illustrative of something much  broader: political correctness increasingly means intolerance and exclusion of Christians from public life in our society. We see this in bans on prayer at  veterans’ funerals in Houston, as well as in criticism of Governor Rick Perry’s day of prayer event.”   (from <http://www.frc.org/op-eds/excluding-prayer-from-911-memorial-compounds-the-tragedy-of-that-day>)

I personally believe that exclusion of Christian clergy from public events such as the 10th anniversary of 9/11 is a violation of the rights
of the vast majority of Americans who are Christians to freely practice their religion.  To artificially restrict what
would naturally happen; that is to have the religious leaders of the majority express prayers on behalf of the majority, is to truncate the rights of the
majority to express their faith.   The truth is that we cannot get away from choosing a faith.  What we are doing in America is enshrining a
faith called atheism in our public events.    The public exercise of a particular faith does not of itself persecute a minority.  The public exercise of a faith in a natural way does not of itself establish a religion, it simply expresses it.   This is what the First Amendment protects.

Teacher’s persecution is so wrong

http://mystateline.com/fulltext-news/?nxd_id=272457

Teacher unjustly persecuted

What is happening to this teacher is so wrong.  First of all it is a gross violation of his right to free speech.  More fundamentally, he is being persecuted for speaking up for that which is biblically and traditionally the right just because it happens to be politically incorrect in our society.  This shows how much our culture is drifting towards defending that which is wrong.   It also shows how militant the gay lobby is in forcing everyone else to agree with them.   And the key battlefield is the school.  This kind of pro-homosexual thinking is going to make the public schools unfit for traditional Christian, Jewish or Muslim children.   Do educators really want to create enemies out of that many people?

 

Why I Signed the Manhattan Declaration (Sep 8, 2010)

 

Today I decided to sign the Manhattan Declaration.   The time has come for Christians to speak out strongly in unison about these values that are essential without clouding the picture with denominational exclusives and sub-culture preferences.   I was very drawn also to the way the declaration’s preamble linked the causes we are speaking out about today to some of the high moments in the history of Christianity.  Indeed, when I sign it, I do have a sense that I am standing in the greatest strands of Christian tradition.

I signed, first of all, because the three causes are ones with which I wholeheartedly agree.

  1. Every human life is a creation of God from conception and is to be respected as such.   As the Psalmist writes, “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Ps 139:13-14 NIV).  Every day God gives us until our natural death is a gift of God, and comes to us with “good works prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10).   This is the Christian way and has nothing to do with country or politics.  Its truth stands prophetically opposed to any government at any time in history that covers its hands in violence and bloodshed, whether obviously or more silently by implication.
  2. Marriage is defined as a covenant union of one man and one woman for life.   It cannot be defined otherwise and be the same product.   It began in the Garden of Eden.    It was blessed by Jesus with his own presence in Cana.    It is a covenant that God uses to illustrate the relationship of Christ to the church (Eph. 5:25-32).   It has been under assault for years and now is in critical danger of official redefinition.  I believe that Christians need to stand together in the way they live, and pray about and stand up for the Bible’s idea of marriage.
  3. Lastly, religious freedom is a precious gift that came to us in our country because so many from so many different faiths were part of our fledging nation in its beginning.    They recognized that freedom of conscience was a divinely assumed parameter of Scripture.   So they made it a pillar of our system of government.   Today it is under direct attack by the “politically correct” crew.    What is not being made clear in our country today is that our Christian faith is the only safe foundation for our freedom.   Other great world faiths have not resulted in the potential for tolerance of diverse faiths that American Christianity has.   We need to recognize that preserving our Christian heritage is essential to the continuing of our freedom of religion.  

 

These three causes truly need our support today.

I do not need to repeat the work of the declaration.   But let me add that in my work as a minister of the gospel, I have seen the decline of marriage from several angles.  It is frightening.   Divorce is more frequent.   Promiscuity is a way of life especially among many twenty-something’s.  More and more children are born outside of marriage.   The number of marriages I have personally been asked to perform has fallen steadily over my years of ministry.   Today, many want to teach an outright falsehood by suggesting that somehow homosexual unions are the same as heterosexual.    If they were, why do homosexuals often imitate the heterosexual pair?  If they were, why don’t statistics concerning happiness come out equally well?   And today, we are in danger as pastors of not being able to say how we feel about that subject and others as has already happened in Canada.   This is just one reason why we need to speak out in defense of religious liberty. 

The success of these causes will require a unity across all brands of Christian faith.

It is high time that we became more creative in answering Jesus’ prayer for our unity.  “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (Jn 17:23 NIV).   I think all of us recognize that part of the reason for the powerlessness of the church in today’s world is its divisions.    To take one small example, if a media person wanted to call someone to represent the church on a given issue in a given city, who would they call?   The truth is, we couldn’t even advise the media what to do ourselves.   There are probably three ministerial associations at least; and the largest churches are often not even represented in them.  No wonder we have so little voice.   So the Manhattan Declaration gives Christ’s Church a chance to come together across all those artificial lines and speak out with one voice.  I want to be part of that.  

You can speak out too.

If you have been impressed to check up on the Manhattan Declaration with a view to joining in yourself—and I hope you have—I have added the website to my blog roll.  The sign-in process is simple.  You do not have to join the community to sign the declaration.   Let’s work together to stand up for truth!