April 2, 2015

Indiana, Arkansas, Religious Freedom & Constant Struggle

The media and corporate intimidation aimed at Indiana and Arkansas over their Religious Freedom Restoration laws has justifiably alarmed many Christians and other defenders of conscience rights.  Laughably, histrionic critics of these laws are concerned about “discrimination.”  This word has become demagogically the equivalent of “communism” during the heated McCarthyite era.  But communism was a real, murderous force that merited alarm.  The contrived concern about “discrimination” has become mostly a rhetorical weapon of intimidation against traditionalist dissenters from secularist orthodoxy.

Ironically, the real victims of “discrimination” under the new cultural regime of intolerance are politically and economically uninfluential small business owners lacking the resources and connections of their elitist opponents who wish to squash them and silence their faith convictions.

Some wonder if the culture war against religious traditionalists will amplify until any meaningful public dissent from the dictates of liberal secular elites becomes socially and economically impossible, even when legally protected in theory.   Are we witnessing America’s religious and speech freedom perishing before our eyes?  Possibly, but there needs to be perspective.  Religious and speech liberty has never been free from threats, even in America during its best times.  The Constitution protects both, but the Founders had no illusions that written law would guard against lynch mobs, whether real or virtual.  Protecting freedom requires constant vigilance.

Methodist history offers some examples.  Early Methodists were anti-slavery.  But after an 1800 church decree urging anti-slavery appeals to state legislatures, social and political hostility against Methodism increased in southern states.  Mobs threatened preachers, who sometimes were arrested. South Carolina passed a new law limiting religious gatherings.  Bishop Francis Asbury was warned his life would be threatened if he traveled to that state, which he avoided for several years.  The First Amendment failed to protect the Methodists, who responded by mostly going silent on slavery.  To do otherwise would risk effective banishment from an entire region.

Later in the 19th century, even when Methodism was America’s largest church, Methodist preachers frequently were ostracized for their opposition to saloons, gambling, bawdy theaters and prostitution, without meaningful legal recourse.  Clarence True Wilson, later founder of the Methodist Temperance Board, recounted as a young preacher how business interests commonly would block his ability to rent a home for his family when appointed to a new church on Maryland’s eastern shore.  His preaching threatened the town’s economic vitality, so landlords were pressured not to rent to a Methodist clergy.  Again, the First Amendment did not protect from hostility by social and economic elites.

There are countless other examples when the First Amendment failed to protect religious and speech freedom, even at the height of supposedly Christian America.  Vigorous proclamation of Gospel ethics challenges and provokes every generation of fallen humanity.  There’s almost never an easy ride for a counter narrative against enshrined cultural orthodoxy.  The political and economic battles are the externals of much deeper spiritual warfare.  Dissenters from the prevailing culture smog must claim their rights guaranteed by law, realizing that such claims are often only the first steps of a much longer struggle for which there is often no discernible win.  But contending for religious and speech liberty is essential for any approximation of a just society.


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30 Responses to Indiana, Arkansas, Religious Freedom & Constant Struggle

  1. ragline says:

    This article essentially says, “prepare for persecution.” That may be correct but it seems to be a defeatist attitude. A better defense of religious freedom should be the first order of duty now.

    • John S. says:

      Probably read his bible:

      “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—

      “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution”

  2. RoverSerton says:

    Religion practice is safe. What isn’t safe is trying to legislate that religion into the law of the land. Slavery was great to be against, it was a human rights issue (like Same Sex Marriage is), Prohibition less so but it restricted people that disagreed from doing a mostly harmless act that normally didn’t affect others.

    The social issues religions choose to oppose may lead them to be considered bigots i.e. SSM. The RCC currently is considered that by many young people.

    Religion will be fought if tries to legislate against my freedoms.

    • yolo says:

      You mean so-called freedom. Funny how this freedom doesn’t include the use of coal, oil, natural gas, or any other energy source that hasn’t been stigmatized by the political left and subsidy-hungry CEOs. What we are witnessing happening to that business owner in Indiana is proof why RFRA is needed. This is precisely about religious viewpoints and what is being sought is precisely the trampling of those viewpoints under the guise of anti-discrimination, which is nowhere in the First Amendment. If that is not an infringement of freedom, then I do not know what is. With respect to slavery, you did not answer how it was a “human rights” issue as opposed to a moral issue. Throughout history slavery was the norm as opposed to the exception. The Romans legitimated its use based upon the human condition of conquered people.

      • RoverSerton says:

        Slaves were human, that makes it both a human rights and moral issue. The Jews also had slaves, not just the Romans, as property. The bible says nothing bad about slavery.

        Sadly, your religious privilege is so strong that when you see others getting equality, you feel cheated. Sorry.

        That “business owner” that proudly talked about not serving gays has made $490,000 so far and is doing quiet well thank you. An excellent business decision IMO. Now if Barronell can find enough fools like those others, her money problems can also go away. And Sweet Cakes by Melissa,

        Your freedom ends at my rights.

        • yolo says:

          Inmates are human. So are people in communist countries. So are the unborn. So are the euthanised. So are the drafted. So are the disenfranchised. So are the unemployed. So are the cheated. You haven’t identified what makes an issue a human right and what makes an issue not. Your statement about the bible and the RCC suggests that you are more inclined to the action of political philosophy than theology. Political philosophy is what drives the lynch mob, just as it has been driven in Indiana. The action of the governor of Indiana, in response to the righteous indignation of a generation that has been confirmed by testing to be more technologically and employment inept than in any other country in the world, is disappointing since this generation is wrong about a whole bunch of issues that don’t even have anything to do with religion. The governor should have responded, but his response should have consisted of a revelation that 80% of what this generation was taught in social “studies” was utter nonsense and not likely to advance their own condition in the free market.

          • RoverSerton says:

            I’m sorry you are so angry. Have the best Easter weekend you can. Peace.

          • yolo says:

            There’s no anger in the truth, just the truth.

          • RoverSerton says:

            If you aren’t angry, you are at least ranting about people that are human. I don’t see any point in your above diatribe. Debate in such a condition can’t occur.

            Also, since you brought up the Romans and slavery, but conveniently ignored those in the bible, I thought it appropriate.

            Have a good weekend, i’m out.

          • yolo says:

            The reason why you constantly bring up “human” even though like any good liberal protestant you would ignore human life that is aborted, euthanised, or genetically selected is because you can’t bring up Christianity. In fact, you mock Christianity. Your sentiment is exactly what the RCC many years ago predicted would exist in liberal theology. The problem is you haven’t identified what actually makes humans valuable or what makes humans special as opposed to species. Your argument is circular. I have pointed to numerous examples that you cannot justify under your use of humanism, yet they exist where humanism prevails. We have heard for many months now that black lives matter, yet abortion occurs disproportionately among black women. I also pointed to examples that are very difficult for humanists to criticize because to criticize those examples humanism would be revealed as dogmatic. It’s very difficult to argue for the freeing of some of the most heinous (I would say evil) people in the world or to argue for the enfranchisement of murderers.

          • jjgrndisland says:

            Don’t preach against hate until you stop hating.

    • jjgrndisland says:

      Hate much?

      • RoverSerton says:

        nope, only when one group oppresses another. My family ran the KKK in a part of Michigan in the 1920’s. I found that abhorrent and the many are still using their religion, as then, to oppress minorities (gays in this case).

        • ed-words says:

          Hogwash, just another attempt to play the race card and convince Christians to condone sexual perversion. We’re not as stupid or naive as you assume. The liberal churches fall for this nonsense, Christians do not.

          • RoverSerton says:

            Well, since you are being rude, you personally reinforce my assumption.

            p.s. LOVE the “no true Christian is a liberal”. Sanctimonious much?

          • Paul Hoskins says:

            No true Christian could possibly celebrate sexual immorality. The first Christians lived in a sewer culture but they tried to rise above it, not be part of it. if there is no difference between a Christian and an unbeliever, then he is no Christian.

          • yolo says:

            Some liberal was saying that Christianity is love, love of these people. Yet it makes no sense since what the liberal is saying is that there isn’t love of these people without loving their sin. Jesus never loved the sinner because of their sin. In fact, it was the opposite. The sin is what is evil and humans are vulnerable to sinning. In fact, everyone does. Good Christians recognize it and attempt to veer their life away from it. The sinners that veered their lives away from sin were the people that Jesus associated with. When told that you can’t love a drug addict without loving the drug addiction (or any other sin) and that it is parallel to the issue at present, the liberal had no logical response. Uh, instead some utterance about treatment. I didn’t know that there were treatment programs for sin. I then brought up treatment of homosexuality, which is comparable to the treatment example that the liberal brought up.

          • Paul Hoskins says:

            The other side never gets it. You hate the sin BECAUSE you love the sinner.

    • Paul Hoskins says:

      Sorry, but “many young people” are not the standard of morality. “many young people” have the morals of a pimp. You and your friends seem so proud of the fact that “many young people” don’t care who sleeps with whom or what or how many.

      Christianity does not answer to “many young people,” we answer to God. I happen to belong to a church that attracts the better sort of young people, the kind who has a conscience. Why would any mature adult who is secure in his relationship with God even give a thought to being called a “bigot” by “many young people”? We can’t let immoral people define our morality.

      • RoverSerton says:

        Well, many young people vote with their feet and don’t want to be associated with discrimination. The RCC’s stance is clear. They don’t and never will accept SSM, women priests, contraception, remarriage, divorce, etc.

        Benedict 16 wanted a smaller more fundamental RCC, he will get his wish I suspect.

        • Polish Bear says:

          You think it’s OK to discriminate against Christians. So you believe you should be able to discriminate against people you don’t like. When you do not practice what you preach, that makes you a hypocrite.

          • RoverSerton says:

            I would like to know your example of discrimination against Christians. If you bring up the baker, florist or pizza maker, they are denying (in theory at least) public accommodations. Do you have a different example?

            Of course I discriminate every time I pull out my wallet to buy something. So do you. I won’t give money to churches, Chic-fil-e, Hobby Lobby or Catholic hospitals if I can get to one that is secular.

            Your religious freedom is extensive and that’s great, but to beat people with your bible is unacceptable IMO. A persons civil rights are not trumped by your religion.

          • Lester Gray says:

            Please post a link to back up your charge of people being beaten with a Bible. That would make a fascinating video.

          • RoverSerton says:

            I wouldn’t post it. Too many people got off on Mel’s “The passion of the Christ”. I don’t like bondage porn like that thing was. And some watch that film every Easter.

    • Joe Katzman says:

      “What isn’t safe is trying to legislate that religion into the law of the land.”

      Actually, that’s totally safe. The Left is a religion in every meaningful way, from unchallengeable beliefs and holy designates, to its medievalist 3 Estates, to its decentralized fatwa-based enforcement.

      This isn’t politics intruding on religion. It’s a state religion taking steps to terrorize and crush those who hold to rival faiths.

      • RoverSerton says:

        Yea, the 6 catholics and 3 jews in SCOTUS will allow secularism to become the state religion. Plus every president and 90% plus the congress being Christian. Yea, I can see Christianity in the US is doomed I say, DOOMED. (not).

        Your definition of religion if you consider “the Left” a religion is very odd. No god, no book of rules, no leader. It is more like a bunch of people tired being told we are going to hell.

  3. spiff says:

    The real victims are “small businesses”..haha what a crock. I’m sure your “altruistic” motives are solely for them and not for your bigoted viewpoint. C’mon now, lets recite a Bible passage to rationalize.

  4. scottrose says:

    The events of the past week prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that homosexuals have no objection to hatred and bigotry, as long as they are the ones doing it. People who try to shut down a business and deprive people of their livelihood are just plain evil and should be called out for it.

  5. Fran Brunson says:

    It’s a shame that the word “discrimination” has fallen on such hard times. All human beings discriminate – we judge some behaviors to be good, some are bad, others are neutral. Learning to discriminate is part of becoming a civilized adult. It is peculiar that the people who call themselves “pro-choice” want to tread on the rights of religious people.

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