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UN Gay Rights Envoy’s Conflict with Religious Liberty

According to the United Nations envoy for homosexual rights, the recently appointed Vitit Muntarbhorn, religious freedom should not be considered an absolute and it should be trumped by homosexual rights if there is a conflict between the two. His views are out of step with the views of the 73 countries worldwide and of almost 40 percent of all the UN member states that currently have anti-sodomy laws.

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Donald Trump 2015 by Michael Vadon on Flickr

Can Trump Protect Religious Liberty?

Is religious liberty really under attack in the United States? If so, will Donald Trump, if he’s elected, really be able to protect it from further attack?

Many of my Christian friends probably wonder why I would even pose the first question, because, to them, the answer is an obvious, “Yes.” As to the second question, some of my Christian friends would also think the answer is obvious.

I’m not so sure the answer to either question is so obvious if we are really honest with ourselves about the situation and the reason behind the “attacks.” But being honest with ourselves is the first step toward restoring the religious liberty historic Christianity once knew in this country.

The word “historic” is key to answering the first question, because the answer depends on what strain of Christianity one is talking about. The American Christianity of more recent vintage that is rooted in only a spiritualized internal experience and focused mostly on getting to Heaven is not really under attack. It’s no threat to anyone. A more robust strain of the same that focuses on personal piety in one’s conduct is not under too much attack, either. Yes, such Christians are considered odd and may be ostracized in some circles. But there is still a large, whatever-floats-your-boat sentiment in America; so long as you “do your thing” in a manner that doesn’t affect others, your religious viewpoint is no threat.

However, if you are part of the historic strain of Christianity that believes there are transcendent, creational laws or norms that apply to all human behavior, including the institutions that humans create, such as civil governments, economic systems, and educational systems, then your Christianity is under attack. That Christianity is not okay with the American majority, maybe even a very good number of those who go to church on Sunday.

But it’s more than just “not okay.” It must be snuffed out.

That sounds dramatic, but it’s true. It’s hard for Christians to admit, but it’s not hard to understand. No god likes to have another god usurp their rule and authority, and the Christian God who imposes “laws” on His creation is an offense to the man-is-the-measure-of-all things religion. Man has always wanted to be his own god, and the culmination of that “religious” view’s dominating power in America was demonstrated when the Supreme Court said it could redefine marriage.

We must understand that there can be no absolute religious liberty when the question of religious liberty is framed this way: Has a creator God imposed a moral order on man, or is man autonomous? There can be toleration of religion and religious beliefs, which is what we have now, but toleration necessarily means someone or some thing decides what will be tolerated. Those in charge of deciding what religion(s) will be tolerated necessarily “establish” that religion or those religions.

That being said, let’s return to the second question, can Trump protect religious liberty? In the sense in which I’ve framed the issue, the short answer is “No.” He can perhaps slow down the attacks for a season, and he can maybe help prevent certain selected attacks, like Tennessee’s Legislature has done with professional counselors and student religious groups on public college campuses. But he can’t stop the attacks; they are inherent to the worldview underlying the controlling powers in our civil government, school systems, and culture.

Picture the whack-a-mole at the fair and that’s how I envision Trump on this matter—he might be able to whack a historic Christianity-attacking mole here and there. Of course, Hillary, like President Obama, is one of the moles and will let the moles run free.

Those who believe their Christian views are under attack must first realize the depth and breadth of the problem. It is beyond fixing by any one President. In fact, there’s no quick fix.

It’s going to take a cultural revolution as comprehensive as the revolution that displaced what we had and that’s brought us to where we are. The sooner we see that, the sooner we’ll move past looking for political saviors1, settle in and get started on the task ahead. Helping your friends understand the nature of the problem and then equipping yourself at things like our Stand for Truth Seminar (Johnson City, September 10th) is one way to get started. It’s much larger than the next Presidential election.

NOTES

  1. I do not intend to suggest that voting or politics and the product of politics—laws and public policy—are not important and part of the solution, but it is only a part.

David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

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The End of Christianity As We Know It

Two pieces of legislation, one pending in Tennessee and one just passed in Indiana, and the reactions to them are bringing me ever closer to the belief that Christianity as we know it is coming to an end in the United States.

The bill in Tennessee is a rather straightforward one that I have no doubts our Founding Fathers would have passed in a heartbeat. The bill would prevent professors in the most atheistic department on our public college campuses—psychology—from using the power of the state that their professorial position entails to force a student counselor-in-training to counsel a client contrary to the student’s religious beliefs.

However, the bill is opposed by accrediting agencies and that has made its passage tenuous. Let’s be clear about what’s going on here. Accreditation trumps religious liberty.

And I understand the thinking. If we lose accreditation, it will hurt our universities. They won’t be able to attract students from out of state. And it will hurt the career opportunities afforded our students, who may not be able go to other states to practice if they don’t have a degree from an accredited program. Protecting religious liberty could be costly.

The other bill is one Indiana passed this week to protect religious freedom in the marketplace. It would protect Citizen A from Citizen B using the power of the judicial branch to force Citizen A to do something contrary to Citizen A’s sincerely held religious belief unless there is some really compelling reason for government to trample on religious liberty.

Again, this is something I believe our Founding Fathers, based on the language of the Declaration of Independence, would have supported at the risk of their life, liberty, and property.

But the NCAA is now thinking about whether it should hold basketball tournaments in the state because, in their view, the bill fosters discrimination. And two major conventions slotted for Indianapolis have threatened to look elsewhere for the same reason. Again, protecting religious liberty just might prove costly.

So what does this have to do with Christianity and particularly the “end of it as we know it?”

What I’m referring to is the kind of Christianity whose adherents hold to and live consistently with the historic doctrines of the church rooted in Scripture and are still able to get along with everybody else without it costing very much. That kind of Christianity, I believe, is coming to an end in America.

What will take its place is a costly Christianity, the kind of which Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote before he was hanged for his opposition to Hitler’s totalitarian Nazi regime.

But that is actually the kind of Christianity that is true to its historical roots. Christianity will always be tied to and rooted in the Cross, and only those willing to embrace that Cross really embrace Christianity. When embracing the Cross, one’s hands cannot embrace other things the world might offer in its place.

It was because he’d already embraced the Cross that the Apostle Paul found himself in situations in which he was beaten and left for dead. It was because they’d already embraced the Cross that Christians were willing to deny primacy to Caesar though it meant being fed to lions and used as human torches. It’s because of his faith in the Cross, rather than institutional church, that Martin Luther penned the words, “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; The body they may kill. God’s truth abideth still. His kingdom is forever!”

And, indeed, God’s truth will endure as will the “Kingdom” kind of Christianity that is build upon it, even as it has for more than two thousand years.

But what’s going on in America’s culture is eventually going to make all of us who fill the pews and pulpits of our churches decide whether we will really embrace the costliness of the Cross when our time comes.

To be honest, I don’t relish that thought, but more than ever I think that day is coming. And perhaps this season of the Cross is the right time to think about it.


David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

FACT-RSS-Blog-Icon-small Get David Fowler’s Blog as a feed.

Invite David Fowler to speak at your event

silhouette of a man and woman reading newspapers with words press statement underneath on green background

Statement by FACT President on the Hobby Lobby Win

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (June 30, 2014) —David Fowler, President of The Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT), issued a statement in response to the Supreme Court decision to rule in favor of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties 5-4.

Today’s decision by the Supreme Court is a great day for religious liberty in our country. The Court rightly recognized that in our country the law should not require individuals to violate the tenets of their religious beliefs in order to operate their private businesses. They have upheld the promise made by our Founding Fathers that this would be a nation in which religious liberty would forever be freely exercised without oppression by civil government.

The abortifacients mandate in Obamacare put individuals in the position of having to choose between obeying the law or the dictates of their conscience. All freedom-loving people in America owe a debt of gratitude to the owners of these two companies for being the latest in a long line of courageous Americans who have stood for freedom against government tyranny and religious oppression.

Hopefully, today’s decision will serve as a strong rebuke to those who have expansive views on the reach of civil government and a disdain for individuals whose religious viewpoints form the basis for their decisions and actions. It is good to know that individual business owners can still carry their religious beliefs into the marketplace when they leave home.

For more information about the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties cases, please visit our Understanding the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Cases page.

Official SCOTUS Hobby Lobby Opinion

The Family Action Council of Tennessee, which Fowler heads, was formed in 2006 by a group of citizens concerned about the growing negative impact of public policies on the family. FACT’s mission is to equip Tennesseans and their elected officials to effectively promote and defend a culture that values the traditional family, for the sake of the common good.

Media Contact: Laura Bagby, Director of Communications  |  Office Phone: 615-261-1338  |  Email: laura.bagby@factn.org

silhouette of a man and woman reading newspapers with words press statement underneath on green background

Statement on Sponsors’ Decision to Postpone Action on SB 2566

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (February 19, 2014) —The following statement was made by David Fowler, president of The Family Action Council of Tennessee, regarding the decision this week by the sponsors of Senate Bill (SB) 2566 not to proceed with the bill. SB 2566 would have prohibited the government from forcing religious organizations and business owners to participate in certain activities in connection with private marriage ceremonies that violate their sincerely held religious beliefs.

Fowler stated:

Because the language of Senate Bill 2566, as filed, was over-broad in some respects and too easily subject to interpretations that could lead to unintended consequences, the bill’s sponsors decided not to proceed with the bill this year.

However, the issues raised by the bill need to be addressed because they are vitally important to ensuring respect for the fundamental liberty in our country: religious liberty.

Therefore, our organization encourages the state legislature to address the issue of religious liberty raised in this bill in its session next year.  We look forward to seeing legislators enact legislation that prohibits government from forcing people in private settings to engage in activities that violate their religious beliefs.

The Family Action Council of Tennessee, which Fowler heads, was formed in 2006 by a group of citizens concerned about the growing negative impact of public policies on the family. FACT’s mission is to equip Tennesseans and their elected officials to effectively promote and defend a culture that values the traditional family, for the sake of the common good. For more information, visit factn.org.

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