Archives for religious liberty

Religious Liberty and Republican Opportunity

church and stateThe recent battles over religious liberty in Indiana and Arkansas demonstrate an ironic truth: that we are actually debating whether or not you can be forced to violate your faith in a country originally settled by people looking for the freedom to practice their faith.

Let that soak in for a minute.

The hysteria was truly something to behold. Liberals descended on Indiana and its politicians like flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz. Protesters stormed the state capital. Reporters ambushed flat-footed politicians and business owners. Corporations pontificated. Democrats huffed and puffed. Social media melted.

The source of all the fuss was passage of state-level versions of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, simply mandating that government must have a “compelling interest” to infringe on religion (a higher legal standard), and that it must use the “least restrictive” means possible whenever it does.

The federal version was probably the most bi-partisan, (nearly) unanimously passed law in modern American history (435-0 in the House and 97-3 in the Senate) and signed by Bill Clinton no less in 1993. Congress can’t generate that much bipartisan support for a resolution declaring water to be wet, but there it is, in all of its “hate mongering” glory.

The liberal claim is that such laws are just a tool to discriminate against gays, but the unavoidable fact is that allowing people of faith to decline to participate in something that violates their faith (like a gay wedding) in a country whose First Amendment guarantees the free exercise of religion is NOT discrimination. (And just how do you “discriminate” against an activity?)

As usual, the liberal hypocrisy was delicious. Democrat Governor Dan Malloy of Connecticut jumped to criticize and join a “boycott Indiana” movement despite having the same law in his own state. Many of the corporations who jeered the loudest do business in countries that not only lack religious freedom, but where women and homosexuals have NO rights whatsoever.

The Forces of Intolerance

Of course the media knew this, but chose to ignore it. Scalps had to be taken. The forces of “tolerance” now demand that government enforce their views on everyone else, and they eagerly engage in the public-relations lynching of anyone who disagrees. They have no “tolerance” for unconformity.

As Pat Buchanan put it years ago, “If we’re going to have tolerance in this country, then there has to be tolerance for the views of the majority”. But it’s truly amazing how far and how quickly things have degenerated. On the issue of gay marriage, we have gone from “just civil unions”, to so-called “marriage equality”, to “you WILL celebrate and serve” and “You will NOT publicly object”

Christian businesses are being sought out for legal retribution. Employees and even CEOs have lost their jobs simply because they contributed to referendums calling for the traditional definition of marriage. Individual supporters have even had their home addresses posted online to make organized harassment even easier.

It’s all straight out of Saul Alinksy’s “Rules for Radicals” liberal play-book: “Rule 12 – Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.”

Sound familiar? They’re working to isolate religious conservatives – particularly evangelical Christians – and marginalize them and make them toxic to others in order to chill public advocacy and philanthropy on their behalf. To make it difficult for them to live their faith and openly operate in polite society or even earn a living.

Republican Opportunities

You really have to wonder when Democrat leaders will get a little worried about their minions taking this whole anti-religion thing too far, considering the fact that religious Americans have been leaving their party for years (most recently including white Catholics). But if the party whose national delegates booed having a reference to God in their platform in 2012 wants to officially become the anti-religion party, Republicans should help them by reminding pro-faith Americans every chance they get.

The point is that religious liberty is an incredible political opportunity for Republicans, if we will learn how to make the most of it. Lesson one is to know how to talk about the issue. And lesson two is to actually talk about it. Often.

We need to recognize that liberals have won their major political battles by turning someone into a victim and winning the sympathy of Americans in the political mushy-middle. The media pounces, businesses cringe and politicians cave. It’s a familiar pattern. But now we have the opportunity to turn the tables and use the same tactic to great effect by framing the debate around our own victims.

Republicans should remember that polls show a clear majority (over 70% in the latest Rasmussen poll) favoring the rights of Christian business people to live out their faith in the course of their business and not be made to choose between their faith and their livelihood.

They should remember that tens of thousands of Americans responded with over $840,000 in less than 48 hours for a small pizzeria when it was threatened by the liberal grievance machine. How many politicians who trip over themselves to chase donors are paying attention?

They should remember that religious conservatives are their most loyal supporters, and that the estimated forty to fifty million unregistered and/or nonvoting evangelicals on the sidelines are the largest untapped reservoir in American politics. But they have to be engaged on an emotional level.

The Republican platform should continue to stand for traditional values and liberty, and grassroots conservatives should organize to reject the certain coming attempts to water down its support for the traditional definition of marriage. If that happens, we lose. Which is precisely why the liberal media will beat the drum for it next year

Elections are about math. They’re about addition and the leverage (or multiplication) you get when your base is fully engaged and truly energized. In 2008 and 2012 that wasn’t the case. The opportunity for Republicans in 2016 is clear. If religious liberty isn’t a political hill for Republicans to fight and win on, then no such hill exists.


Let’s be clear, for people of faith, “religious liberty” is quickly becoming the “OK, take the culture and the country and just leave me alone” position. It’s the last stand. There’s really nothing else to lose after that. It’s the terms of our surrender in the culture war. The place where we hope to make a stand and then grow and regroup for the future.

In a way, it’s kind of the same position that the original American pilgrims had. They gave up trying to live their faith at home, so they left home and came here. And several hundred years later, here we are, but with no “new world” to go to.

The other side will never accommodate. It’s time to fight or else.

Culture war becoming a war over religious liberty

religious libertyWith each passing day the country’s ongoing culture war is morphing into an assault on religious liberty.

When liberals talk about opposing the “legislating of morality”, what they really mean is that they oppose policies that are supported by people whose morality is based on religious beliefs – and that they want to force everyone else to comply with their own secular based version of morality.

And since fewer liberals believe in God anyway, destroying religious liberty isn’t something they worry about.

In the wake of new gay marriage laws we’ve seen Christian photographers, Christian bakers and Christian owned venues sued for refusing to provide services to same-sex weddings. We’re now seeing lawsuits against states that don’t recognize gay marriage by homosexuals who have been “married” in other states.

We’ve seen Catholic adoption agencies run out of business for refusing to violate their faith and place children with homosexual couples; and seen a Christian school get sued for expelling two students that were involved in a lesbian relationship on the grounds of its religious views.

In San Diego a fertility doctor was sued for refusing to artificially inseminate an unmarried lesbian because of his beliefs. Meanwhile, the state of California is considering legislation mandating insurance coverage for gay and lesbian “infertility”, (yes, you read that right).

In the area of healthcare, the government is trying to force religious institutions to pay for insurance coverage that includes not just birth control, but drugs that are designed to induce abortions.

As one Catholic Bishop put it, the state is trying to use the “rule of law to force a church institution, in violation of its own self-identify and constitution, to pay for something in its own workplace that the institution holds and teaches to be sinful.”

To paraphrase another church official, does the state have the right to tell citizens how to practice their religion? Many liberals would emphatically answer “yes”.

According to the Obama administration, once you start a business you don’t have First Amendment rights anymore. In its response to Hobby Lobby’s lawsuit against Obamacare’s abortion coverage mandates, the administration wrote: “Hobby Lobby is a for-profit, secular employer…and a secular entity by definition does not exercise religion.” Got that?

In our military, the Air Force censored a video created by a chaplain simply because it included the word “God”; another chaplain was removed for not allowing a military chapel to be used for a same-sex wedding; and another service member received a potentially career ending reprimand for expressing his religious beliefs about homosexuality on a personal religious blog.

Senior officials at Fort Campbell sent out emails informing the ranks that “the religious right in America” is a “domestic hate group” because of its opposition to homosexuality. And this is the same military that recently produced training materials that lumped Tea Party supporters in with terrorists.

As instances like these came to light, a Republican US House member introduced an amendment to a military funding bill that would have “required the Armed Forces to accommodate actions and speech reflecting the conscience, moral, principles or religious beliefs” of service members.

The Obama administration “strongly objected”.

Add all of this to the recent Supreme Court decision on gay marriage in California which, as Justice Scalia put it in his dissent, formally declared “anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency” and that “any resistance to its holding is beyond the pale of reasoned disagreement”.

That’s par for the course. The diversity and tolerance crowd doesn’t give a rip about diversity of thought or tolerate values that are different from their own, (such as they have them).

Gay marriage is the biggest weapon in this war simply because refusal to accommodate or sanction it can potentially leave you open to massive lawsuits in the conduct of normal business.

As former US Senator Sam Brownback put it, “…in states with same-sex marriage, religiously affiliated schools, adoption agencies, psychological clinics, social workers, marital counselors, etc. will be forced to choose between violating their own deeply held beliefs and giving up government contracts, tax-exempt status, or even being denied the right to operate at all.”

In short, the active practice of one’s faith in everyday life would no longer be legal.

These are the kind of problems you run into when government becomes so large that it covers virtually every type of human interaction. Inevitably it crosses the line from the secular to the realm of religious conscience.

All of which is kind of ironic for a country created by people looking for religious liberty.