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Orwellian U.S. Commission on Civil Rights: “Religious Freedom” is Code for Discrimination (Translation: Sexual Liberty Trumps Religious Liberty)

 Something very important—that should be sending ominous shockwaves through America’s communities of faith—occurred earlier this month which, not surprisingly, was largely ignored by the secular progressive media. The liberal elite “Emperor,” now stripped bare, revealed with absolutely stunning immoral clarity that it was never the plan to tolerate religious freedom. Martin R. Castro, appointed by President Obama in 2011, wrote in the September 2016 report by the United States Commission on Civil Rights:

 “The phrases “religious liberty” and “religious freedom” will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance. . . . [T]oday, as in the past, religion is being used as . . . a weapon . . . by those seeking to deny others equality. In our nation’s past religion has been used to justify slavery and later, Jim Crow laws. We now see “religious liberty” arguments sneaking their way back into our political and constitutional discourse . . . in an effort to undermine the rights of some Americans. This generation of Americans must stand up and speak out to ensure that religion never again be twisted to deny others the full promise of America.”

 Under the leadership of Castro, it is no surprise that the report’s two central “findings” are:

  • “Civil rights protections ensuring nondiscrimination, as embodied in the Constitution, laws, and policies, are of pre-eminent importance in American jurisprudence.”
  • “Religious exemptions to the protections of civil rights based upon classifications such as race, color, national origin, sex, disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity, when they are permissible, significantly infringe upon these civil rights.”

However this commission language is code for: “We progressive elites prefer new fabricated faux civil rights, particularly ‘sexual liberty,’ over religious liberty (even though the latter is explicitly protected by the First Amendment).  Therefore, when backwards religious institutions or individuals, like the bigoted Christian colleges in California in the recent SB 1146 battle, have the Unmitigated gall, pursuant to the U.S. Constitution, to assert religious exemptions from non-discrimination laws, their First Amendment rights don’t matter because they are ‘infringing’ on more important and popular civil rights (i.e. which weigh much more in the scales of justice) than religious freedom.”

University of San Diego School of Law Professor Gail Heriot, in her powerful dissent to the majority opinion in the commission’s report, writes:  “By starting with an assertion that antidiscrimination laws are ‘pre-eminent,’” she writes, “the Commission’s analysis essentially begins with its conclusion. Why should anyone accept it? The Commission said so.” She also told the Washington Times that she was “troubled by the growing attitude that somehow anti-discrimination laws trump everything.”

Ironically, the report, which shamelessly trashes the first civil right embodied in our Bill of Rights, is titled: “Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Non-Discrimination Principles with Civil Liberties.” Castro’s Orwellian statements are nothing short of a declaration of war against people of faith and religious institutions. Make no mistake; those pushing the radical sexual liberty agenda have no desire for peace or tolerance, nor will they leave any room in the culture for religious dissenters. I have been warning people of faith for over a decade that the greatest threat to religious liberty is sexual liberty, and this report is Exhibit A, proving my point.

In fact, Castro and his friends have no respect for authentic religious freedom. The report is nothing short of a hit piece, designed to further denigrate and marginalize the place of religion in America. When it comes to the growing conflicts between the new, emerging, and purportedly ‘enlightened’ civil right, sexual liberty, uber-liberals like Castro, the commission’s majority, and California Senator Ricardo Lara (author of SB 1146) believe that backwards ‘unenlightened’ people of faith must always submit, cower in fear and shame, and be silenced. In other words, religious liberty will only be tolerated by the leftist elites to the extent that religious people agree to embrace and applaud unrestrained sexual liberty and expression.  That is a devil’s bargain for people of faith and must be rejected and resisted at all costs, unless we want to see religious freedom disappear in our lifetimes. The loss of religious liberty is a ‘gift’ that I am unwilling to give my children and grandchildren.

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Political Correctness Is Destroying America!

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Sorry, but no this is not an endorsement of the extremely blunt, some would say crude, Donald Trump or of plain-talking Senator Ted Cruz, for that matter.  While this upcoming presidential election is critically important, especially after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, I submit that the scope of the problem discussed here started at least 40 years ago and actually transcends partisan politics or the 2016 election.

I humbly posit here that the elite fabricated, and increasingly government enforced, self-censorship (a.k.a. “political correctness”) is dulling our thinking, is making us quite literally stupid, is leading to self-destructive decisions, and is herding us towards the eventual demise of what made America great.  Radical political correctness threatens the authenticity of the public discourse and the world of ideas like nothing we have ever seen.  Our very understanding of reality and the very nature of truth itself is at stake.  By “political correctness” (PC), I mean the pressure to conform to a particular sociopolitical ideology or point of view, especially to a liberal (a.k.a. “progressive”) point of view concerned with promoting radical “tolerance” and avoiding offense in matters of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation.

Last year PC was on full frontal display when the U.S. Supreme Court, ignoring biology, history, sociology, and common sense, declared that maleness and femaleness no longer have anything meaningful to do with marriage and family in Obergefell v. Hodges.  The result:  The court, in a divided decision, redefined marriage, fabricated a new “constitutional right (read “wrong”) to same-sex marriage.  This was a “yuge” PC victory. The score: PC 1, Constitution and truth 0.

In the last month, the ever shape-shifting and evolving PC insanity was also on full display in the left-coast’s San Diego County.  The first instance arose in the Poway Unified School District, once the paragon of excellence among California’s schools.  The issue is the 2014 California law (AB 1266) that allows children to self-identify their gender and forces public schools to allow transgender students to use facilities, like restrooms and locker rooms, consistent with their personal self-identification.  Privacy For All Students attempted to overturn the law, but was unsuccessful.

At Poway’s Rancho Bernardo High School the result is that boys are forced to share their showers with girls. Why?  California law now allows gender confused or questioning girls to self-identify as “boys” and vice versa.  Is this based on objective factors like biology and body parts?  No.  Based on their feelings alone!  Naturally parents, justifiably concerned about the raging hormones of their young men, who dared to ask for some decency and privacy for their sons are branded as bad, discriminatory, bigoted parents, who just need to live with the cultural sexual chaos and shut up.

Nearly simultaneously, perhaps a confirmation of too much sunshine to the brain in SoCal, the influence of the PC language police was on full display yet again in another part of San Diego County.  The City of San Diego’s Orwellian 2014 “Correspondence Manual” mandated that municipal employees not refer to “Founding Fathers” to avoid gender bias, replacing it with the gender-neutral term “Founders.”  It doesn’t matter a whit that the truth of history is that, though women made significant contributions, most leading founders were men, does it?  We must bow to feelings, and not judge those feelings, but validate them whether or not they bear any correspondence to truth or reality.  Mayor Kevin Falcouner, in a statement reversing the PC manual’s stupidity, pointed out, “Suggesting that our Founding Fathers should be referred to as ‘Founders’ is political correctness run amok.”  Run amok indeed!  We could use more of the plucky, truth-affirming common sense of our Founding Fathers.

On the surface political correctness appears happy and “nice,” but peer unflinchingly behind the beautiful curtain and you will soon see that it is truly dark and dangerous. This is because PC often ignores the facts, subverts critical thinking, is quite ironically intolerant and, rather than leading to a purportedly evolved higher plane of socio-political existence, is placing us all in grave danger. How so?

PC ignores factsPC has an uncomfortable relationship with objective truth.  In PC land, truth is radically subjectivized, personalized and relativized to the individual.  Transcendent truth (i.e. reality) is replaced by transient and often unstable personal feelings and emotions, which can and often do shift and change. PC glorifies each of us and our feelings as “god,” as we refulse  to acknowledge or accept objective and important distinctions.  PC enforces an intolerant “sameness” and lack of good judgment, even where real differences exist.  Basic truths and realities about things as they really are, get ignored.  Facts like biological boys having boy parts, biological girls having girl parts.  That boys are boys and girls are girls.  That our Founding Fathers were men.  That most terrorists today are Muslim (i.e. not Christian or any other religion).

PC subverts reason and logic.  Once you jettison facts and truth, critical thinking quickly becomes a thing of the past.  PC is mind-numbing and is thought-destroying.  We are not to consider hard cold facts and use our reason and logic to reach conclusions.  No, we must agree with whatever PC B.S. the liberal elite are selling this week.  The brain is turned off as PC drones mindlessly repeat liberal mantras until we are all propagandized.  Simply put, PC makes us stupid.  In PC fantasyland, there is no reason to worry about small and unimportant details like: 1) Boys with boy bits may be harmed or negatively impacted (i.e. struggle with lust) if girls with girl bits are showing up nude in their locker rooms, 2) We are not properly vetting Muslim immigrants with dangerous ideologies, or 3) The breakdown of the African-American family has negative consequences. 

PC is quite viciously intolerantPC commands us not to discriminate, yet viciously discriminates against us and demonizes us.  It orders us not to hate, but foments hatred against us.  It begs for tolerance, but is aggressively intolerant of anyone expressing or living out biblical Christianity.  Indeed, if you don’t march in lock step in the PC parade, you are “evil” and you are quite literally a stupid backwards devil.  If you are, for example, a Christian who doesn’t agree with the PC replacement “Ten Commandments,” you are a hateful, narrow-minded, intolerant, bigot.  Do you remember what happened to Kim Davis in Kentucky this past summer?  We can’t “discriminate” and call names but its okay to call us names and demonize us.  The emperor has no clothes: the “myth of tolerance” has been exposed.

PC puts us all in dangerSince we can’t look at facts and can’t use those facts to reason or make informed decisions, we have rendered ourselves powerless to respond appropriately to real and existential threats.  A neighbor of the Jihadi San Bernardino couple suspected they were up to no good, but failed to report the suspicious activity to law enforcement!  Why?  Because they didn’t want to be seen by others as politically incorrect or discriminatorily “profiling.” Christians are publicly attacked today, mostly with words.  As a result, many are silent, instead of standing up for their civil rights.  But, tomorrow, if we don’t get fully on board the PC bandwagon, will we lose our jobs?  Will we go to jail?  Will we be killed?  These are all unsavory possibilities that we are not too far from as a society.

PC undermines freedomPolitical Correctness is a freedom-crushing downward spiral of silence.  It is an underestimated sociological force that has the dark effect of at first stifling and later silencing nearly all discussion or dissent.  This includes freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, and religious freedom.  As the cacophony of PC loud bullying tactics rises, the level of meaningful resistance to its transparently fascist tendencies diminishes.  As the voices of the elite carrying culture’s PC megaphones becomes shriller and more deafening, all other voices are tragically drowned out.  PC does not breed true liberty, it breeds enslavement. This was on full display recently on university campuses across the U.S. as “black lives matter” activists, tried to exclude whites, the media, and those who disagreed with them from their “safe spaces.”

And if you are right about now wondering, “What the h–l just happened?”  Well, simply put, the “free love” hippies of yesteryear’s sexual revolution have grown up, overrun academia and government, destroyed, in delight, the Judeo-Christian worldview, and are now officially running the asylum.  The elite’s replacement for the Judeo-Christian worldview is Hinduism, and to a lesser extent Buddhism, which I will write about more next month.  This revolution is not without profound consequences.  It is steadily ruining our lives and destroying America.  In our brave new PC alternative reality world, good is called “evil” and the sane are now declared “insane.” Yes indeed, we have lost our freaking minds!  I fear that if we don’t collectively regain consciousness from this “bad trip” soon, all may be lost for generations.

Worldviews matter! Ideas, indeed, have consequences.  Bad ideas have bad consequences.  Political correctness is a bad idea that has bad consequences.  Yes, we should be angry! Angry at how we have allowed truth and freedom to slip through our fingers like sand.  Angry that we are losing that which our Founding Fathers and others have fought so hard to establish and protect.  Angry that our fear of man, sloth, and cultural disengagement and general wimpiness will lead to the suffering of our children and grandchildren.  But we must harness and channel our anger, transforming its energy into purposeful and effective action.

Is Franklin Graham Right About America?

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I was still rubbing sleep from my eyes, preparing to groggily reach for my morning coffee, when a story jumped off my smart phone screen, catching my eye.  The Fox News editorial headline read, “It’s Open Season on Christians in America.” The piece by Todd Starnes hailed Billy Graham’s Johnny-Cash-loving, once rebellious son as a prophetic “voice crying in the wilderness.”  Personally, I have had a soft spot in my heart for the Graham family since, as a young boy, my father proudly told me the story of how he, as a young pastor, was part of the leadership team hosting the Billy Graham Crusade in Los Angeles in 1958.  “So what is the ever-biblically-bold Franklin saying now?” I pondered.  The weighty words I read next hit me right between the eyes!

“I believe we are perilously close to the moral tipping point for the survival of the United States of America.  I refuse to be silent and watch the future of our children and grandchildren be offered up on pagan altars of personal pleasure and immorality,” Graham wrote in Decision magazine.  Upon absorbing these two sentences, Franklin and Starnes had my full attention!  Franklin Graham was addressing, head-on, the fundamental issues that I have been thinking about, writing about, and fighting about for my entire career as a constitutional attorney.  In fact, the book proposal I am submitting to my literary agent this month is precisely about how American Christianity is rapidly succumbing to powerful pagan cultural myths.

So, what evidence does Graham cite for his dark diagnosis?

  • The U.S. Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage, in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
  • Radical Islamic terrorists on our shores increasingly in our midst slaughtering innocents, in an age of truth-denying political correctness.
  • The deep-seated antagonism and hostility towards Christianity in every seat of power in this nation—government, media, courts and education.

Many other Christian leaders have bemoaned these and other very serious problems we now face.  But what is the solution?  In this season of nearly wall-to-wall political coverage, is it politics?  Graham says no.  “The only hope for America is not the Democratic Party and it’s not the Republican Party.  The only hope for America is God.”  And Graham has put his money where his mouth is by launching a Decision America Tour that includes a series of prayer rallies at capitol building in all 50 states.  “It’s trying to lead this nation in prayer, confessing the sins of our country, asking for God’s forgiveness and encouraging Christians to get engaged in the political process,” he told Starnes.

Graham explained to Starnes that he is addressing issues many pastors, especially younger ones, do not.  “The younger pastors—so many are caught up in the pop culture, and the pastor in a church is more about being cool,” he said.  “We’re beginning to put theology in the back seat and I’m concerned about the church.  To be honest with you, the problems we have in America today are the failure of the church,” Graham said.  This, by the way, is another issue I tackle in my book. Graham went onto explain that as government has grown bigger the church’s historical role in feeding and clothing the poor and health care has diminished.  His point:  It’s time for Christians to get off our bottoms and reengage the culture.

Indeed, our salvation is not in politics, it is in the Lord!  Although I am a confessed political junkie, over the past decade I have increasingly realized the limits of politics to bring about meaningful enduring change.  If America is to be changed, if America is to be transformed to the depth necessary to see lasting progress, our hearts and minds must be renewed.  Only God can do that! That is why I have been hoping for, praying for, and looking for revival.  Not a passing fad, but a profound reformational shift on par with the First or Second Great Awakenings.

So what can you do, what can I do?  What are some take away action points?

  • Pray for America: that the Gospel will be clearly preached, that we will respond by confessing our sins, repenting, and that, by God’s favor and grace, we will see revival (some would say reformation) in our lifetime. This starts with the church (See II Chronicles 7:14).
  • Pray for the church: that pastors and Christian leaders will become biblically bold and courageous, reject powerful pagan cultural forces, preach the full counsel of God, and lead the flock biblically.
  • Engage the culture: develop a comprehensive biblical worldview and apologia, be willing to suffer and be persecuted, live out your faith publicly without fear, speak the truth in love (See Ephesians 4:15), share the Gospel, and vote for leaders who will not subvert religious liberty. Be salt and light (See Matthew 5: 13-16).

Yes, Franklin Graham is right about America. Will you join us in prayer and godly action today?  I believe with all of my heart that this is the only way we will see meaningful hope and change.

How Recent Events in Houston and Kentucky Offer Hope for Religious Freedom in America

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George Orwell in his dystopian novel 1984 coined the term “Newspeak” to describe the totalitarian regime’s government-sanctioned politically-correct language that powerfully and coercively shaped and controlled the thinking of the masses.  In a pervasive surveillance state (“Big Brother is watching you.”), those who dared oppose, even if only in their thinking, the ideological purity of Newspeak were rooted out by the Thought Police and convicted of thoughtcrimes.  Thus, it was not only a violation of the law to speak or act in opposition to the prevailing totalistic cultural narrative; it was a crime to even think it.  If convicted of ideological rebellion, you would be sentenced to beatings, torture, indoctrination and reprogramming by the comically and ironically named “Ministry of Love.” Eventually, thought criminals were executed.  Undivided fealty to the state and statist ideologies was absolutely mandated and viciously enforced in Orwell’s dark totalitarian vision.

Therefore, belief in God was a thoughtcrime in 1984.  Thankfully, we are not quite there yet.  But, we are not very far removed from a similar state of affairs today.  As our culture has drifted from its Judeo-Christian roots (and at a seemingly geometrically progressing rate of late), biblical Christians who believe in a God Who precedes and transcends the state find themselves increasingly at sharp odds with culturally elitist state-sanctioned beliefs and practices.  The areas of disagreement are many but include, among others, the existence of transcendent moral values including the definition of life, the meaning of gender and sexual identity, the definition of marriage, and the meaning of family.  Yet, perhaps no other issue has more poignantly highlighted this gaping ideological chasm more than 2015’s radical redefinition of marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Today’s increasingly prevailing American Newspeak affirms that is “gay is good,” and that if you don’t absolutely agree and affirm this, you are committing the unforgivable thoughtcrime of being a homophobic bigot.  This sad state of affairs leaves little to no room for individuals with traditional biblical views on sexuality or marriage to believe, express, or live out their ideologically-incorrect and unpopular Christian beliefs in the public square—without paying an increasingly high price.

Tragically, in our era of unprecedented cultural propaganda, objective truth and logic matters less and less.  Libelous labels abound while the actual facts are increasingly irrelevant.  You see, the poor individual callously convicted of the false charge of “hate,” may actually know and love people who experience same-sex attraction and are “married.”  Yet, because we are just now supposedly morally enlightened, having only very recently culturally discovered our prior traditional beliefs are purportedly “perverted” or “wrong,” ideological outliers who reject the powerful “sexual liberty” narrative must now be aggressively marginalized, bullied, judged, shamed, shunned, and even hated by the new Though Police.  Why?  Naturally, the only palatable explanation must be that they “hate,” simply because they ideologically disagree with the tyranny of absolute “sexual liberty.” Recent examples include the menagerie of Christian bakers, florists, photographers, and others who have refused to participate in faux same-sex “marriages” and, as a result, have been coerced by the state to pay a high price for their ideological treason.  Yet, there are some glimmers of light in the midst of this dark and morally confused ethical mire.  For poignant positive examples of this, we need look no further than Houston or Kentucky.

In Houston, Major Annise Parker and the City Council adopted a very bad ordinance regarding sexual orientation and gender identity last year that allowed purported transgender individuals to use opposite-biological-sex restrooms and other public facilities.  When pastors and churches rose up to oppose the new ordinance, the City Attorney retaliated by unlawfully invalidating thousands of signatures in favor of a measure repealing the ordinance.  In the ensuing litigation, the City aggressively tried to obtain copies of five prominent pastors’ sermons in a desperate attempt to try to prove anti-homosexual bigotry.  And throughout the fight, the Thought Police media was no friend of the Christians, pillorying them for their backwards traditional un-Newspeak-like beliefs.  But all of this moral chaos suddenly changed earlier this month when, in a moment of increasingly rare moral clarity and courage, the people of Houston voted 68 to 32 to overturn the sexually confused “bathroom bill.”  And that’s not all.

In Kentucky, after the U.S. Supreme Court in June “legalized” same-sex “marriage,” Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis sought an accommodation from Democratic Governor Steve Beshear for her religious conviction that marriage is the sacred bond between a man and a woman.  The governor flatly refused, informing Davis that she must comply with the law and issue same-sex marriage licenses or quit her job.  This led to Ms. Davis being incarcerated and the legal challenge to her predicament.  Enter Republican candidate for governor, Matt Bevin.  He not only visited Ms. Davis the day she was released from jail, but made religious liberty a key facet of his campaign.  Bevin, who focused on social issues like defunding Planned Parenthood and defending Kim Davis, encouraged the conservative base to turn out to vote.  Bevin won in a landslide, becoming only the second Republican governor in the state in the past 40 years!  Bevin committed to provide Kim Davis with a religious accommodation, and has now agreed to take Davis’ name off of the marriage licenses.

According to Dr. Ryan T. Anderson, the lesson to be learned from Houston and Kentucky is “conservatives can win when they refuse to be bullied by elites into silence. Making the public argument against bad policy and in support of good policy can win the day.”

We should thank our heavenly Father that we are not yet at the dark Orwellian point where belief in God is outlawed and we are tortured or murdered into submission and silence for thoughtcrime.  Yet, we must soberly recognize certain windows may be closing and we must now continue to fight for and make the most of the freedoms and opportunities we still enjoy.  In the meantime, we must refuse to be silent and must continue to stand, speak, and fight for the cause of religious freedom.  Faithful Christians must never bow to the growing cultural pressure to compromise, capitulate, and assimilate.  We must stand with God on principle and continue to make the public argument by speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

 

The Doctrine of Lesser Magistrates: Why Federal and State Authorities Ought to Ignore Same-Sex Marriage.

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What should a biblical Christian do when the State commands that which God forbids or forbids that which God commands? Having recently written about principled Christian disobedience (PCCD), we now turn to the doctrine of lesser magistrates for some guidance in this present darkness where, increasingly, good is called “evil,” and evil is called “good.” I humbly submit that we have a duty to obey God rather than man.

Relying on scripture, the protestant reformers developed a political theory to address how Christians may appropriately respond when faced with the tyranny of a rogue emperor or despotic king.  A “lesser magistrate” is a lower government authority, relative to the king or other ultimate authority, charged with guarding the God-given liberties of the people under his care.  The concept here is that the lesser magistrate is imbued with the responsibility and authority to shield citizens by resisting, and when necessary, rebelling against the tyranny of a higher authority.

John Calvin wrote in his Institutes of the Christian Religion that while individual Christians are generally commanded to submit to ruling authorities (See Romans 13:1-6), “popular magistrates” have “been appointed to curb the tyranny of kings”  when higher authority exceeds its limits and issues decrees that are against God’s instructions. The Lutheran Magdeburg Confession of 1550, argued that “subordinate powers” in a state, faced with a scenario where the “supreme power” is working to destroy true religion, may exceed non-cooperation with the supreme power and actually help the faithful to resist.

John Locke, a committed Christian, explicitly wrote in his Two Treatise on Government that the people had a right of revolution as a check on statist tyranny.  Sir William Blackstone, the eminent English jurist, whose Commentaries on the Laws of England were studied by many of our founders including Thomas Jefferson, wrote “Upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation, depend all human laws; that is to say, no human laws should be suffered to contradict these. No enactment of man can be considered law unless it conforms to the law of God.” As the Declaration of Independence in 1776 expressed it, natural law taught that the people were “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” and could alter or abolish government when the State becomes “destructive” of those rights. Thus, the authority of the lesser magistrate (i.e. colonial governments) to resist tyranny and the power of the people themselves to rise up in revolution when their inalienable rights are trampled by despotic supreme rulers, were the twin philosophical foundations that merged in the American Revolution.

And, just when you may think that the spirit of 1776 is dead and buried, some thought leaders have begun to roar like bold lions against the megalomaniacal tyranny of the freedom-pilfering U.S. Supreme Court.  Earlier this month, a document was crafted and signed by more than 60 constitutional attorneys and legal experts, including Robert George (Princeton University), John Eastman (Fowler School of Law, Chapman University),  Jeffrey Ventrella (Alliance Defending Freedom, Sr. Counsel), and Steven D. Smith (University of San Diego School of Law).

Steven Smith, with whom I participated in a panel discussion regarding religious liberty in the public square in 2014 at USD, and the other signatories, confirmed the line of reasoning embodied in the article I wrote last month titled The Constitution is the Law of the Land, Not Same-Sex Marriage.  After confirming that the U.S. Constitution does not give the federal judiciary the power to redefine marriage, the scholars urged government officials to refuse to acknowledge or enforce Obergefell v. Hodges.  In other words, they are urging lesser magistrates to declare Obergefell a legal nullity and stand against the federal court’s constitutionally abusive power grab:

“Any decision…lacking anything remotely resembling a warrant in the text, logic, structure, or original understanding of the Constitution must be judged anti-constitutional and illegitimate. Obergefell should be declared to be such, and treated as such, by the other branches of government and by citizens of the United States.

Therefore….We call on all federal and state officeholders: To refuse to accept Obergefell as binding precedent for all but the specific plaintiffs in that case. To recognize the authority of states to define marriage, and the right of federal and state officeholders to act in accordance with those definitions. To pledge full and mutual legal and political assistance to anyone who refuses to follow Obergefell for constitutionally protected reasons.”

Last month, Tennessee legislators introduced a bill seeking to nullify Obergefell, declaring that marriage between one man and one woman “remains the law in Tennessee, regardless of any court decision to the contrary. Any court decision purporting to strike down natural marriage, including Obergefell v. Hodges, is unauthoritative, void and of no effect.”  The bill instructs that the state attorney general “shall defend any state or local government official from any lawsuit regarding the official’s recognition of natural marriage.”

By making these courageous stands in the face of strong cultural headwinds, the Tennessee lawmakers and legal scholars do not advocate general legal anarchy; rather they are actually affirming the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law.  They have issued a clarion call to all magistrates, both state and federal, to interpose themselves as a buffer between a lawless U.S. Supreme Court, on one hand, and the states and citizens that Obergefell profoundly negatively impacts, on the other. When Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis refused to same-sex “marriage” licenses, I believe that she was exercising principled Christian Civil Disobedience (PCCD) and was acting in the tradition of the doctrine of lesser magistrates, attempting to shield citizens from Obergefell.

This is critically important because if the Obergefell ruling stands, it will decimate the right of the states and we the people to act democratically to define marriage, and by extension place any meaningful limits on absolutist supreme federal power. And, it destroys the right of individuals and religious organizations to freely live, act, and speak according to the dictates of their conscience.  The right to vote and religious freedom are fundamentally important civil liberties we simply cannot afford to lose in America.

The Kentucky Clerk & Principled Christian Civil Disobedience

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Under what conditions is it permissible for a Christian to disobey the government?  Romans 13 counsels believers, as a matter of witness and conscience, to obey the government as a servant of God.  When, if ever, are Christians permitted to say “no” and righteously disobey the state?

Here are the conditions and principles we can derive from the Bible and historical role models of peaceful civil disobedience like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • An Unjust Law (man-made) exists that arguably violates a superior non-negotiable principle or moral law.
  • A Just Law (higher law) exists that is not in alignment with or contradicts the Unjust Law and/or the duties flowing from the Unjust Law.
  • An actual conflict exists between the Unjust Law (1) and the Higher Law (2).
  • The Christian facing this dilemma understands the nature of the conflict and is willing to faithfully obey God, pay the price and bear the consequences for disobeying the Unjust Law in favor of the Higher Law (including verbal and physical abuse, jail, and even death).

When the Sanhedrin ordered the apostles to not teach in Jesus’ name, Peter responded, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).  When the king threatened to throw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace for refusing to bow to his idol, they responded, “we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:18).

As the Reverend Martin Luther King wrote in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail in the midst of his public opposition to the injustice of segregation:

“How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.”

Rowan County Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis was jailed because, as an evangelical Christian, she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  Based on the information available to us, I submit that Kim Davis is exercising principled Christian civil disobedience.

Indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court’s God-defying “constitutional right” to same-sex marriage (SSM) is an unjust man-made/human law that violates other non-negotiable principles or moral laws (See 1 above).  The coercive imposition of SSM on the states and “we the people” violates the U.S. Constitution in that the Supreme Court acted legislatively regarding marriage which is not a matter of the authority (jurisdiction, i.e. one of its limited enumerated powers) delegated by the states and people to the federal judiciary.  Marriage is rather an issue that our system of government commits to the states and to “we the people.”  Yet SSM is also out of harmony with the moral law because, by arrogantly presuming to redefine marriage, it’s edict directly conflicts with eternal law and natural law, reflected in scripture’s and 5,000 years of recorded history’s model of man-woman only marriage (MWM) (See 2 above).

An actual conflict clearly exists here for Kim Davis between the Unjust Law (SSM) and Higher Law (MWM) because SSM does not square with the moral law or the law of God (See 3 above). Thus, there is a real tangible conflict of interests faced by Kim Davis here between her duty to issue marriage licenses as a county clerk in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s unjust law of SSM and her deeply held religious convictions regarding the biblical teachings of only MWM.  What is a Christian clerk to do?  Must she issue the SSM licenses or quit, as some have suggested? What is the answer?

I submit the answer is precisely what Mrs. Davis has done!  She has recognized the conflict between the U.S. Supreme Court’s issuance of an unjust edict and her superior obligations to a higher law and a higher authority.  She has been willing to live out her faith publicly and face and bear the consequences of her decision.  I applaud her principles and her courage.  And I pray that we are emboldened to display similar Christian “backbone” when we are faced with our personal moment of truth.  If you have not faced your moment already, you will soon have ample opportunities as Christianity is increasingly marginalized, demonized, and criminalized.  I pray that your steadfast response is, “as for me and my house, we serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

Each American generation has its own “unjust” laws to face. Some of the serious challenges we face today are abortion, same-sex “marriage”, and the rapidly growing threat to religious freedom, among others.    And there are many who insist that the Church keep silent; who assert that we keep our biblical “morals” to ourselves.  I have observed the growing pressure on Christians to accept the “evolving” status quo—to be silent instead of speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) in Jesus’ name.  But what if William Wilberforce had been silent about the evil of slavery in the British Empire?  And was not Abraham Lincoln right to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court’s evil Dred Scott ruling, or should he have been thrown in jail too?  In the face of today’s pernicious challenges, I submit that our response must be the same as Peter’s:  “We must obey God, rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

What the Supreme Court marriage ruling means for you

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The long anticipated U.S. Supreme Court ruling, coercively imposing a judicially created same-sex “marriage” (SSM) regime on the good citizens of all 50 states, portends far-reaching and truly ominous implications for our democratic republic. Amidst the morally hollow fanfare of rainbow illuminations and banners, most of these cold-hard realities were either ignored or under-reported. Tragically, the primary victim of the high court’s divisive decision is the Constitution itself (shredded) and with it the rule of law (undermined). In this era of growing moral and legal anarchy, some are asking, “Is the American experiment over?”

Justice Kennedy, joined by Breyer, Ginsberg, Kagan, and Sotomayor, threw the legal equivalent of jet fuel on the already red-hot glowing embers of intolerant anti-Christian sentiments. In doing so, they cemented the specious cultural narrative that, according to the “thinking” of secular-progressive elites, individuals opposing marriage’s radical redefinition, especially Christians, are no better morally speaking than purveyors of Jim Crow or rabid Clansmen—enemies of humanity and enemies of the state.  Whether or not this devilish propaganda is actually true is irrelevant to our enlightened neo-high priests and priestesses. As such, now that our statist black-robed “gods” have spoken, our fellow citizens have “official” permission to tar Bible believers as unenlightened, homophobic bigots.

Righteously angry and powerful dissenting opinions were authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito. As the four dissenting justices point out, theObergefell v. Hodges decision will likely prove to be at least as nationally divisive as Roe v. Wade, and signal a clear and present danger to our democratic republic and the bedrock American principle of religious freedom.  The following points raised by the dissenters are important to understand going forward:

  • Democracy Denied: The votes of millions of Americans desiring to retain the one-man, one-woman definition of marriage, which has successfully served humanity for millennia, were judicially nullified in a shameless illegal power grab by the purportedly superior, enlightened, statist, and decidedly elitist whims of five lawyers. This gang-of-five acted alone, apparently knowing better than the rest of us what is collectively good for all of us—whether we like it or not! Liberal passions and libertinism aside, it is common sense, and supported by the best research, that kids do best with a mom and a dad; neither is fungible. And yet, as Justice Scalia pointed out, the inherent authority we have possessed since 1776, the right of “we the people” to govern ourselves has been subverted and destroyed by a black-robed oligarchy, irresponsibly acting as super-legislators, imposing their hyper-progressive version of reality on all. To observe that this action is profoundly repugnant to American ideals is an awesome understatement. Tyranny, even in the form of lofty sounding legalese, remains tyranny and must always be opposed by a free people.
  • Liberty Libeled: As Justice Thomas pointed out, throughout our history liberty has meant freedom from government interference, not entitlement to a government benefit nor a lawless libertinism. As such, the Kennedy clan further misinterpreted and perverted the 14th Amendment’s conception of liberty to serve the result they were seeking. Apparently when you are making constitutional “sausage,” (a.k.a garbage) the ends justify the means. And, it is important to point out here, that the 14th Amendment appropriately extended procedural legal rights (equal protection and due process) to African Americans; it did not create and coerce new substantive rights as the court has done here by radically redefining marriage, concocting a new genderless or androgynous version. This new radical “right” was fabricated by Kennedy, who did not even bother to follow the court’s precedents regarding equal protection (suspect classification/strict scrutiny) or fundamental rights (“deeply rooted in our history and traditions”).
  • Federalism on Fire:   And, not willing to remain constitutionally bounded by its federal “limited enumerated powers,” the Supremes have swallowed up yet another important area actually left by our founders to the states and to “we the people”—the power to define marriage. This action further subverts the checks and balances between the federal government and sovereign states. States and the people ought rather to retain plenary authority over everything, including marriage, not specifically delegated to the federal government. Unlimited federal power has led and will continue to lead to increasing tyranny over the states and the people.
  • Religion Ransacked: The gang-of-five seems to have forgotten or ignored actual constitutional rights, specifically the religious liberties embodied in the First Amendment which have, until recently, successfully protected religious freedom and rights of conscience for more than 220 years. As Chief Justice Roberts pointed out, this new judicially manufactured illegitimate “right” to SSM (crudely fabricated by the five from the 14th Amendment) has crushed and will continue to crush religious freedom, a clearly legitimate constitutional right. Because SSM has been compared with African-American civil rights and the civil rights of women, those poor souls who maintain the Judeo-Christian view of marriage will be vilified and persecuted as backwards bigots. If the statist radicals have their way, non-profit ministries and churches that refuse to comply may soon see their tax exempt statuses revoked.

It is indisputable that we have now, as a nation, foolishly drifted far from the safe harbors of our constitutional moorings out into violently churning uncharted waters of moral and legal anarchy. Rejecting the warning of John Adams, we have become a nation of “men,” carelessly casting aside our beloved Constitution and the rule of “law.” This soft-tyranny of the black-robed oligarchy, undermining the Constitution and with it the legitimate rights of the states and “we the people,” must not go unchallenged.

How far can this go? Are there any meaningful limiting principles, other than progressive elitist appetites, proclivities, and biases? Perhaps not! If the United States Supreme Court can get away with this, what can’t they do? If nearly all issues can be federally misappropriated by merely relabeling them “constitutional,” than we the people may have truly lost our ability to govern ourselves as we are increasingly ruled by an oligarchical elite who couch their tyranny in reasonable sounding words.

Indeed, it was tyrannical governmental usurpations that fomented our break from England; perhaps history will be repeated here. Regardless, unless something is significantly changed, it appears that the idea and ideals that were America, including self-government and freedom, may become largely lost to history.

This unwelcome diagnosis may be painful to hear and the prescription for what ails us is a bitter pill to swallow. John Adams was right: Unless we have an educated, moral, and engaged citizenry to elect wise leaders who respect and follow the law, there is little hope for a return to national greatness from this dark abyss of legal and moral anarchy. There is no easy path back to the lamp light of freedom left for us by our wise founders, but there is a path!

For the past eight years, the National Center for Law & Policy has been actively fighting for marriage, the sanctity of life, and religious liberty in an increasingly hostile culture and the courts.  Although the legal landscape and American values have changed and are changing, our mission, vision, values, and goals have not varied, nor will they vary one iota.  We will continue to stand firm in truth and fight the good fight.

Certainly, in this radicalized cultural environment, we must have hearts of compassion and backbones of steel.  Now is not a time for Christian wimps.  If you missed it, please read Dean’s powerful editorial appearing in the Christian News Journal, A Call for Christian Courage!  The board of directors, attorneys, and staff of the National Center for Law & Policy make this solemn pledge to you regarding our core areas of religious liberty, the sanctity of marriage, and the sanctity of life: We will not change!  Therefore, we commit to continue to:

  • Advocate for and defend individual believers, religious colleges, ministries, and churches from any and all threats to our freedom to believe, practice, express and actively live out our faithin all areas of our lives, both privately and publicly.
  • Engage the culture and the church by winsomely speaking the truth in love(Eph. 4:15) in hard-hitting opinion editorials, interviews, debates, and speaking opportunities.
  • Support policy efforts to pass legislation and secure constitutional amendments to protect religious liberty and the freedom of conscience, such as state and federal religious freedom restoration acts (RFRA’s).
  • Oppose and stop attempts to undermine the sanctity of life.For example, the NCLP is working with other pro-life advocacy organizations to fight California’s AB 775.
  • Advise and guide churches and Christian ministries regarding amending their bylaws and policiesto proactively prepare for future sexual orientation and gender identity lawsuits.
  • Encourage pastors to courageously shepherd and lead their flocks by clearly and compassionately preaching the gospel and the full counsel of God, including what the Bible teaches about the key moral issues confronting the church today.
  • And much, much, more…

The Obergefell v. Hodges decision has thrown proverbial gasoline on the already burning fires of anti-Christian sentiment. We expect to see and are in the process of preparing ourselves to handle a rapidly growing number of requests for our specialized legal assistance with a wide variety of cases involving religious discrimination and persecution. The battle lies before us and we need to make sure we have supply lines in place so that we do not run out of food or ammunition as we fight to keep the doors open for the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ.