Perspective: I cannot be silent
Some will read this column and deduce that I have stepped beyond my focus on moral and ethical issues into the political arena—allow me to provide a disclaimer. My purpose is not to be political. I do not put my hope in any political party. While my views may align more with one party than another, I have sought to never advocate for a particular party. On the other hand, even though I may be misunderstood, I cannot keep silent.
We are in the midst of the greatest attack on religious liberty perhaps in American history. Our forefathers came to these shores for many reasons, but chief among them was the pursuit of religious freedom. When the fledgling nation sought its way after the brutal fight for freedom, the founders inculcated the First Amendment into the founding documents. The purpose of the First Amendment was to allow the citizens of this great nation to exercise their religious values without hindrance and to keep the government from enacting laws that infringe on the religious convictions of the people.
Across America’s history, there have been moments when our religious liberty has been tested. In recent decades, there has been an unrelenting attempt to remove the Judeo-Christian view from public discourse and influence. Although our nation has its foundation in this traditional view, which by the way provides for those of other faiths to coexist and to be respected, now the most dangerous position in the public arena is to be a Bible-believing, conservative Christian. The liberals who teach tolerance practice little of it.
Unfortunately, under our current President, the attack against religious liberty has taken a decidedly significant upturn. Evidence is not hard to find. Take, for instance, the withdrawal of the invitation of Lou Giglio, a conservative evangelical pastor, to pray at the presidential inauguration. His crime? He, in a loving and non-pejorative way, identified homosexuality as sin and called for life-change. For this, he is disqualified to pray at the inauguration of the President. One could argue that the President and his team have the right to choose who they so desire to pray—I will not argue. However, to reject someone because they take a biblical stand on a moral issue reveals a strong intolerance by the advocates of tolerance. As always, liberals are intolerant of people who stand on biblical principles.
Perhaps the most egregious attack on religious liberty is attached to Obamacare. Religious universities, conservative Christian business owners and others who stand on religious principles are now demanded to violate their convictions and consciences. They are required to provide contraceptives that violate Catholic beliefs and abortifacients that violate the beliefs of Catholics and conservative evangelicals. Hobby Lobby is the best known case, but there are many others. While the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma has been able to bypass this requirement (at an increased cost of $50,000 per year), our affiliate organizations are facing a different challenge. Oklahoma Baptist University has joined the lawsuit of religious colleges seeking relief on grounds of religious conviction.
At first, the attempts to force religious organizations out of the public arena and to force them to comply with laws and rules that collide with deeply held religious beliefs were slow and feeble. Today, with the affirmation of the President, the attacks on religious liberty issues are stronger and clearer.
It is time we stand and draw the line. We can no longer ignore these attacks on our most fundamental right of religious freedom protected under the Constitution. We are privileged to live in a land marked by freedom. We have a voice, and it is time we use it. Our President and many in Congress have shown a disdain for our most cherished beliefs. We cannot be silent any longer. We must let our voices be heard.
I remember years ago joining with others in concluding that abortion was a watershed issue—if we did not respect the life of the unborn, it would not be long until we disrespected others. It would not be long until the ill, handicapped, and elderly would be seen as disposable. Life at every stage must be protected.
The same is true of religious liberty. When government erodes our freedoms by enacting legislation that takes away our ability to hold to our biblical convictions, the government has crossed the line. Rarely do governments make sweeping changes; rather they make incremental shifts that will soon take away the freedoms we hold dear.
The water is now flowing downhill.
I, for one, cannot be silent.