It's not easy to discern the battles worth fighting sometimes.
After I wrote my post last week entitled, Should Jesus Be None Of My Business, I was cautioned by a commenter that quoting someone is "risky" and could lead to "gossip". Suffice it to say, when bloggers write, bloggers battle all kinds of things. Some worthy, some not.
The conversation that sparked my critic's comment involves a column in USA Today written by Kirsten Powers in which she quoted Andy Stanley advising a Christian baker: "Jesus died for a world with which he didn't see eye to eye. If a bakery doesn't want to sell its products to a gay couple, it's their business. Literally. But leave Jesus out of it."
I beg to differ. This is not some obscure philosophical, political debate; it's a genuine spiritual dilemma for all Christians. It pierces the core of an individual's conscience and targets the personal freedoms this country holds dear.
The "real issue" is Religious Liberty.
Yes. Religious liberty. For those who are unconcerned about such liberty, I suppose they could "leave Jesus out of it" all. For Christians who have valued, and until lately, felt free to express and practice their faith without fear of retaliation from society and punishment from government, this is crucial.
This is about religious discrimination, not homophobic bigotry. Never, in all 65 years I've lived have I seen such intimidating cultural disdain for Christians and people of faith in America. Ridicule, silencing, rejection, and censoring. Schools, media and government. This is real. It's not our imagination. Businesses, and citizens alike, are feeling the pressures and the strident straps of retaliation. We do not live in some third world country. This is the United States of America.
Yet, our country is changing at break-neck pace; we can barely keep up with the issues being thrown in our faces. As President Obama promised in 2008, he is "fundamentally transforming America". Religious liberty in America is in peril--especially for Christians.
Just yesterday, a story broke regarding two Muslim truck drivers who didn't want to deliver alcohol for their employer because it is against their religion. The government defended them against the trucking company. The trucking company is sued and must compensate them with back pay and who knows what all else before this is over. Yet, a self-employed Christian baker cannot make a personal religious decision to refuse to bake a cake for a wedding they believe violates their religion? Where is the equality?
To own a business without freedom to provide services as a conscience demands, is tantamount to being shackled to a government's dictates and consequences. A Christian photographer, who refused to use god-given gifts and talents to photograph a gay nuptial, was fined 7-thousand dollars. Should that Christian photographer be forced to photograph a porn-star's portfolio, also? Should an African-American Christian baker be forced to bake a cake that has a black man hanging from a tree to celebrate a KKK rally protesting Martin Luther King Day?
The Seattle Christian bakers are not forcing their view upon the gay couple who demands a wedding cake-- they are upholding their belief in a biblical view of marriage. They refuse to serve mammon by sanctioning an act they view in conflict with deeply held faith beliefs. They're exercising their guaranteed right to practice their faith as they see fit. Would they be forced to bake Halloween cupcakes for Satanists, too? Where does is stop?
Violating their right to practice their heart-felt faith, rapes the conscience of man. The government usurped their conscience, destroyed their business, and impaired their right to make a living. How many more businesses will this effect? Will they have to add mal-practice insurance to their already strapped operating budgets in order to protect their religious liberty and conscience?
There is a message being sent by the liberal courts of this land today-- religious liberty is either extremely costly--or worthless.
Make no mistake, here. Either Christian business owners acquiesce and submit, or they are punished for holding their beliefs.
If government can force us to serve others in a free-enterprise system, then we are not under a free-enterprise system. We are under a totalitarian regime-- under which the government decides what we do, say and think. If government can dictate that a baker bake a cake, it can dictate that a Christian publisher accept and publish books by atheists and other religions in direct contradiction to their mission in life. It follows government can force any business to do anything for anyone, or face discrimination penalties.
Have you struggled with where all this is leading? Will homosexuals progress to a point someday wherein they try to force churches to officiate or host their weddings under threats of discrimination law suits? Will churches lose tax-exempt status for refusing? Will they have to cower in upper rooms? Time will tell.
This threat isn't new, nor is the conversation, but it has reached high-pitch chatter status in the social media, news coverage, and legislative branches of government. It's backed up by a United States Attorney General who tells state attorneys general that they do not have to pay any attention to enforcing laws of the states if they feel it is discriminatory. Free pass; don't bother.
This is no longer about "letting homosexuals do what they want in the privacy of their own bedrooms," or legalizing their unbiblical unions. It's escalating to legalizing that men be allowed to walk into ladies bathrooms if they feel more like a woman than a man. They are protected. Who protects me and my grandchildren in restaurants and movie theaters? Will businesses have to hire restroom guards?
Friends, our voice is being silenced in a world in need of higher volume. Fear. Intimidation. Threats of removing income from states which seek to protect Religious Liberty. He who shouts loudest wins. Business owners are being sued out of existence and jobs being lost as a result. Patriots intimidated and badgered by the IRS to answer questionaires that ask who they are praying for and what they are praying about. Do you sense the fear and tension? I do.
Will all Christians someday be forced by law to withdraw from society as the Amish and Quakers choose to do in order to practice their faith? Will the internet be closed down to our ponderings on this issue and any other issue the government deems hateful or intolerable for us to discuss? I have little doubt anymore.
Seems anytime any Christian takes an opposing viewpoint on most any issue, they are labeled a bigot of some kind or another. In Kirsten's column at USA Today she likened the Christians' mindset to Jim Crow lunch-counter racist bigotry. I liken her arguments to that mindset in reverse. It appears it is Christians who are being forced to the back of the bus and out of the business market. And if things don't change, we will soon see religious liberty as a thing of the past.