Why Christians Must Fight for Religious Liberty in America


Freedom, though given freely by God, isn’t offered freely by Man. It must be fought for and won, sometimes through reasoned debate and cool persuasion, other times through battles with swords or guns. Tyranny is always lurking, scheming to usurp individual liberty. This is as true in America as it is anywhere.

Religious Liberty Persecution America FreedomI am thankful therefore for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. The ERLC understands freedom. Recently, the ERLC hosted a panel discussion on the Hobby Lobby case and what it means for all Americans. The entire transcript is worth reviewing, but there are two points in particular that I hope you will ponder.

First, ERLC President Russell Moore explains that many people of faith seem to miss that religious liberty IS a gospel issue. Moore—provocatively and persuasively—demonstrates why Christians must oppose persecution and a loss of liberty in America:

So a lot of people assume well, we are standing in the place of Jesus, standing before [Pilate], who cares whether or not we have our rights and our liberties taken away? Jesus went as a sheep to the slaughter and so should we. What people aren’t recognizing there is that they are not only standing in the place of Jesus, they are also standing in the place of [Pilate] because the scripture says, Romans 13, “the God holds Caesar accountable for the use of the sword.” In a Democratic Republic, that means ultimately the people are held accountable so the question is not just are we going to be persecuted? The question is are we going to be persecutors? So if we shrug this off, what we are doing is consigning future generations and we are consigning people’s consciences to a tyranny that we are going to be held accountable for. 

I have spoken to many Christians, young and old, who think that we should go like sheep through the tyrannical slaughter of our religious liberties. But it seems a bit irresponsible and unloving toward our own children, grandchildren, and future generations of the church. As I’ve pointed out before, when we as Americans give up the fight, the situation gets worse for believers all over the world. We may indeed be living through the end of our religious liberty, but let us at least not go down without a fight—for the sake of our spiritual progeny who will suffer more dramatically the ill effects of such loss.

The second significant point in the transcript comes from Saddleback pastor Rick Warren. Pastor Rick clearly and eloquently lays out the case for why religious liberty is the foundation of all other liberty:

The first amendment, religious freedom is called America’s first freedom for intentional reasons. The first phrase of the first sentence of the first amendment of the Constitution is freedom of religion. In our constitution, freedom of religion comes before freedom of the press. It comes before freedom of speech. It comes before freedom to assemble. It comes before the right to bear arms. Why? Because if I don’t have the freedom to believe and practice my beliefs, I don’t need the freedom of press. If I don’t have the freedom of conscience to live as I believe God is telling me to live, then I don’t need freedom to assemble. If I don’t have the freedom to think and believe and act on those beliefs, I don’t need freedom of speech or freedom of the press or even any of these other freedoms. This is America’s first freedom because it is fundamental.

As I said, the entire transcript is worth reading. These two points, I think, nail our present situation and identify clearly for us why it is so important that we not abrogate our responsibility to speak up, to preach, to pray, and to serve the church and the world with healthy doses of Christian love.

America, and thus the rest of the world, losing freedom:

Some of the people Obamacare hurts

Another example of a loss of liberty

Where Are John Piper and Rick Warren on Persecution?


English: Official Congressional portrait of Co...

English: Official Congressional portrait of Congressman Frank Wolf. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thank you, Representative Frank Wolf. A long-time advocate for religious freedom, Representative Wolf (R- VA) is now crying out for Christians in America to advocate on behalf of suffering Christians around the world.

The slaughter of thousands of Christians in Syria at the hands of Sunni Muslims and the killing of thousands more Coptic Christians in Egypt has Representative Wolf calling out famous Christian pastors like John Piper and Rick Warren. Having been taught much by the former, I can vouch for Dr. Piper’s concern for the persecuted. A search of the Desiring God website will deliver hundreds of messages related to Christian persecution.

Nevertheless, Wolf’s cry rings true.  Will it be effective, or will it go the way of the tornado test siren, which gets our attention for only a second before we conclude nothing really serious is underway?  Let us pray that Piper, Warren, and many others will hear the siren call and be stirred into action on behalf of suffering Christians.

Representative Wolf made his challenge to Christian leaders on the Janet Mefferd Show: “The church in the West is relatively silent,” He then asked, “Where’s Rick Warren? Where’s John Piper? Where are the people? Why aren’t they speaking out on this? I just have a hard time wondering why more in the West are not speaking out.”

The problem is greater than one which can be solved by Rick Warren or John Piper. The entire Christian Church in America and around the world needs immediately to wake up to the suffering bride of Christ.  Cedar Grove Baptist Church founded Project 13:3 for the sole purpose of helping Christians to remember the persecuted church. It is an urgent need and high priority for Christ Himself.

Thank you, Representative Wolf, for your work. For anyone interested in being part of the growing movement on behalf of persecuted Christians, you can join us from anywhere this Sunday, November 11.

For the Record


Pastor Rick Warren has recently said that the gay marriage issue is “not his agenda.”  In a sense, of course, he is right.  The gospel itself is the agenda of the Christian, including pastors.  However, humanity is also our concern.  And, the church is called to be the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim 3:15). 

To quote Pastor Warren, “There are about two percent of Americans [who] are homosexual or gay/lesbian people. We should not let two percent of the population determine to change a definition of marriage that has been supported by every single culture and every single religion for 5,000 years.”
 
To quote Pastor Warren again, “This is not even just a Christian issue — it’s a humanitarian and human issue that God created marriage for the purpose of family, love, and procreation.”

I would add further that marriage and family is the foundational social institution upon which a culture should build.  Something must hold, or else the culture disintegrates into chaos.  If the meaning of marriage is undone, then the culture itself is undone.  Nothing which binds society together can hold any longer because the foundation itself has faltered.

It does not matter how nice the brick looks on the outside of a house once the foundation has cracked.  When the foundation is lost, the house will fall.  Once the institution of marriage is undone, the culture will no longer have a societal “ideal” for which to work and on which to build.  Marriage and family will mean anything (bigamy, polygamy, polyandry…).  In other words, there will be nothing at the foundational level.  No ideal, thus no order.

Is such a disintegration the concern of a purpose driven pastor?  I suppose that depends on the purpose of the pastor.  It seems to me that the earlier Rick Warren makes some good sense that the later Rick Warren ought not to have disavowed.  Why is it that poverty is an acceptable part of the Saddleback gospel agenda but honoring marriage is not?  Why would fighting AIDS be on the agenda but honoring family would not?  Fighting AIDS and poverty, like standing up for marriage and family, has to do with loving mankind and speaking of that which is ordained by God for Man’s flourishing. 

There is no hate in such speaking up for humankind.  Just as fighting AIDS is not an act of condemnation toward homosexuals, so, too, is standing for marriage not an act of condemnation toward homosexuals.  Both fights are engaged for the well-being of humankind, to maximize the flourishing of Man.

Irony of Tolerance


So, in last week’s conversation, we ran into a possible impasse concerning tolerance.  The issue surrounded Rick Warren and his invitation to pray at Obama’s Inauguration.  Yesterday, the AP ran this story, which demonstrates precisely what I was saying in last week’s posts (and comments).  Rick Warren is actually viewed as a model for tolerance, even though he is against gay marriage.  For some, these categories are inherently contradictory.  But that contradiction does not spring from any reasonable foundation; it springs from a predetermined notion about the definition of tolerance, namely, that it must include the approval of gay relationships. 

Thus, this story illustrates, once again, the point I have been making.  Tolerance is an unworkable idea because it does not depend either on reason or revelation; it is grounded in preference only.  Tolerance can be imposed, but it cannot be just.  It is merely a political power play which confuses more than it helps.

Tolerance, huh?


Everybody’s supposed to be tolerant nowadays.  That is code language, of course, for giving full approval to homosexuality.  When it comes to gays and lesbians, tolerance takes a different turn, as this episode so colorfully illustrates.  Obama has angered gays and lesbians by inviting Rick Warren to offer a prayer at the inauguration. 

All the man is going to do is offer a prayer for the new president.  Yet, in response to this, it seems many gays and lesbians are outraged, feeling betrayed. Now, how tolerant is that? 

Of course, it is perfectly understandable to be prejudiced against a Christian pastor.  After all, those guys are so intolerant…