Don’t Tell Me There’s No Threat to Religious Freedom

by Nathan A. Cherry, 08/24/2012

Chuck NorrisI will confess that I get a little more than irritated when I run into Christians that try to tell me that religious freedom is not really under attack. Honestly, I want to summon all my Chuck Norris abilities and do a round-house kick to knock some sense into them. The idea that any Christian would imply, let alone say that religious freedom is not under attack is preposterous and shows an incredible degree of negligence and ignorance.

To emphasize my point that religious freedom is indeed under attack I want to highlight a new study just released by our partners the Liberty institute and the Family Research Council (FRC). If anyone knows that religious freedom is under attack it is, after last week’s shooting, the Family Research Council. Considering that the gunman told people inside FRC that he didn’t like their politics (i.e. their position on social issues) it is evident that this is more than a simple attack, this is an all-out war.

The new study says that hostility toward religious expression is growing as about 600 incidents have been reported in the last 10 years. Liberty Institute president Kelly Shackelford said:

“America today would be unrecognizable to our Founders. Our first liberty is facing a relentless onslaught from well-funded and aggressive groups and individuals who are using the courts, Congress, and the vast federal bureaucracy to suppress and limit religious freedom…This radicalized minority is driven by an anti-religious ideology that is turning the First Amendment upside down.”

Perhaps at this point you want specific instances of religious freedom attacks rather than rhetoric or ominous warnings. Fair enough, though I would point out that the rhetoric is based in concrete evidence an reality and the ominous warnings should be heeded. Now, specific instances:

Consider the very recent example of a scholar that says he was discriminated against for his view that homosexuality is a sin. Rev. Hopkins, a Dead-Sea scroll expert says the Atlanta based school refused to renew his contract because of his position on homosexuality.

Or how about the case that has resurfaced in the news of a New Mexico based photographer, Elaine Huguenin, who was convicted of “sexual orientation discrimination” and fined, for standing upon her Christian convictions and refusing to photograph a same-sex civil union. The case is slated to be heard by the New Mexico Supreme Court and the implications are far reaching. If the conviction is upheld it will set a precedent that asserts Christian business owners either have to choose their business or their faith, but not both.

And then there is the story of a group in Arizona that was trying to “show God’s love in a practical way” by handing out free bottles of water at a Phoenix city festival, but were told they could not because they did not have a permit. The city maintains it was simply because they did not have a permit, but I wonder if they would have stopped a Muslim group in the same way. All that aside, it’s Arizona, it’s free water. Have we sunk so low that people can’t even be charitable without a permit?

I could on and on. I could mention Hercules Industries in Colorado fighting against the Obama HHS mandate (not to mention Catholic charities and universities). Or the church in Florida threatened with removal from the school they met in because they taught homosexuality was sin. I could talk about the restaurant in Pennsylvania being attacked for offering a discount to people that bring a church bulletin with them. And I could mention the Water park in Arkansas being harassed by the ACLU for offering a discount to church groups. Or even the kids right here in West Virginia that were told they could not write Jesus’ birthday was the reason for Christmas on their school papers. The list is endless.

But I, like Liberty Institute attorney Justin Butterfield simply want to make it clear that this happening in the U.S. each and every day and attacks are getting more blatant and worse. Butterfield said:

“We want to raise awareness of the issue. A lot of people think that hostility because of people’s religious beliefs and attacks on religious liberty are things that happen elsewhere in the world, not in the United States…We just want to show that it actually happens with increasing and alarming regularity here in the United States.”

Groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) only add fuel to the fire by lumping organizations like FRC that stand on biblical convictions with white supremacist hate groups. Their intolerance for anyone that disagrees is epidemic of what is wrong with our culture currently. And President Obama can call himself a Christian all he wants, but he is no friend of religious freedom. As Tony Perkins observed:

“The Obama administration no longer even speaks of freedom of religion; now it is only ‘freedom of worship,’…This radical departure is one that threatens to make true religious liberty vulnerable, conditional, and limited. This is no accident and it has huge ramifications.”

So you will have to excuse me if I get a little irritated when Christians act like there is nothing to worry about. The fact is, there is plenty to worry about. But worry won’t accomplish anything. Supporting groups like the Family Policy Council of West Virginia is how you take action and make a difference. Knowing your rights is how you make a difference. Refusing to bend to the pressure of liberal political correctness is how you make a difference.

The real question is whether or not you want to ignore the problem, complain about it, or make a difference.

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About Nathan Cherry

Nathan Cherry is the chief editor and blogger for the Engage Family Minute blog, the official blog of the FPCWV. He serves also as the Regional Development Coordinator as a liaison to the pastor's of West Virginia. He is a pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-religious freedom conservative. He is also a husband, father, pastor, author, musician, and follower of Jesus Christ.

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