By Chuck Colson in 2010:
For some time now, I’ve been warning you about the various threats to religious freedom. We’ve talked about the gay rights movement, which insidiously insists that religious believers and organizations bow before the altar of sexual freedom. We’ve talked about the so-called health care reform bill, which does not protect freedom of conscience of medical practitioners.
But now I’m seeing the threat to religious freedom in its most pernicious and dangerous form ever.
In a nutshell, here’s what happened. In a speech at Georgetown University, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a speech on human rights. Not only did she talk about the right “to love in any way you choose,” (an obvious attempt at making protecting gay rights a top priority for the U.S. government), she also talked about “freedom of worship.”
But she never mentioned freedom of religion. Only freedom of worship--a big change.
In the First Amendment, the founders (whose work we celebrate this weekend) wisely ensured that government could not prohibit the “free exercise” of religion. And that means so much more than freedom of worship. It guarantees that we're not restricted to living out our faith in the privacy of our homes or church sanctuaries. It means we're free to exercise our religion—and contend for faith—in every area of life.
Just this clever dissembling of words is an apparent attempt to restrict freedom of religion to freedom of worship only. Do you see the implications? Sure, I'm free to attend church, sing hymns, pray over meals, offer thanks to God for my children and grandchildren. That’s my own private affair.
But should the government succeed in redefining freedom of religion, how much longer can I practice my faith in public?
If you read history, you'll see that the first act of a tyrant is to suppress religion, which means, of course, religious practice. Our Founders knew this. They knew the first English settlers came to these shores precisely so they could practice their faith.
And if you read history, you’ll know that the one true threat to a tyrant’s rule is always a believer’s loyalty to a God Who is above the god of the state.
This is why Christians were thrown to the lions in ancient Rome. The earliest baptismal confession of the young Christian Church was “Jesus is Lord.” And that meant Caesar was not. This is why Hitler and Stalin first went after the church. The star of David and the cross were symbols of an authority higher than their own.
We all know about the battles over the Pledge of Allegiance and the phrase “under God,” the battles over manger scenes on public property. These are important, but they are skirmishes, mere skirmishes. The real battle is about whether God is Lord, or whether government is Lord. And make no mistake, if government can redefine or restrict our freedom of religion, our first freedom will be gone.
And, as our Founders understood, when that freedom is gone, we will, in short order, lose all of our other freedoms as well.
The above article was written by Chuck Colson in 2010. www.BreakPoint.org
To pre-order your copy of Chuck's new book "My Final Word," come to our online bookstore at BreakPoint.org. The book will be released officially August 4.
Same-sex marriage: coercion dolled up as civil rights. Stop treating Brendan Eich as a one-off – gay marriage is inherently illiberal.
British-American writer Andrew Sullivan says the witch-hunting of Eich speaks to the ‘fanaticism’ of ... the gay-marriage movement...
The Eich episode showed the ‘eagerness [of] some supporters of same-sex marriage to punish rather than to criticise or to persuade those who disagree’. ‘
In truth what happened to Eich is entirely in keeping with the coercive culture of the politics of gay marriage more broadly.
Eich’s treatment is better seen as the logical conclusion to what has been a strikingly illiberal movement from the get-go.
This is the thing no one in the gay-marriage lobby, or in political and media circles more broadly, seems to want to talk about - the fact that in every jurisdiction in which it has been introduced, gay marriage has been heavily attended by authoritarianism and coercion.
Sometimes the coercion is soft, taking the form of what John Stuart Mill called ‘the tyranny of custom’, where those who refuse to embrace gay marriage - the most speedily formed custom of modern times - will be branded phobic and hateful and perhaps boycotted by agitators, pressured to choose between their moral opposition to same-sex marriage and their place in polite society; you absolutely cannot have both.
And sometimes the coercion is hard, involving, in the case of France most obviously, actual state violence against opponents of gay marriage. But whatever form it has taken, coercion has been the order of the day in every campaign to legalise gay marriage, meaning Eich’s fate wasn’t some abnormality - it was part of a pretty scary ‘new normal’, of a sweeping culture of intolerance that has been fostered by the political set pushing gay marriage.
There is “a time to be silent, and a time to speak”. (Ecclesiastes 3:7). Now is the time to speak, so please speak up and defend children, truth and freedom.
“What the world needs most is a voice that courageously speaks the truth, not when the world is right, but a voice that speaks the truth when the world is wrong.” Fulton Sheen