Passive Acceptance of Evil Is Not a Christian Family Value

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There is an epic war of the ages between darkness and light raging all around us, yet most Christians are content to have a picnic next to the battlefield.

When I first learned about the surreal scene of hundreds of citizens strolling into the countryside to observe a civil war battle near Washington, D.C., I thought “How odd, how strange! Why would anyone want to watch a battle in which they were not engaged?” Now, I understand that this bizarre visage is a rather apt yet tragic symbol of American Christianity today.

There is a very real war of good versus evil being fought in our midst, both spiritual and physical, but we are largely content to sit out the conflict on the sidelines. We should rather to be trained for warfare, arrayed in our armor, standing firm on the field of battle, engaged with our enemy, and advancing against the very gates of hell-but we are not (See Ephesians 6:10-20).

Why not? Well, for the most part, our Christian leaders have not effectively trained us for war. And far too many of us are distracted and ensnared by the worship of a multitude of our American idols-comfort, success, and popularity, to list a few, rather than Christ. We are trained to be passive sheep, lazily grazing on the sidelines, selfishly waiting for heaven to land on earth. Most of us do not know the Bible well enough or have a comprehensive biblical worldview that informs and motivates proactive engagement. And, even if we know what we ought to do, we are not motivated to obey-because it is hard. And “hard” requires sweat, blood, tears and we would rather not sacrifice, bleed, or cry. It is a lot easier to be distracted by the latest Walking Dead episode than fighting real spiritual zombies.

Then, there is the enormous obstacle of desperately wanting people to like us (fear of man) that causes us to stand frozen still when God-warfare opportunities arise.  If we loved and feared God more, we would not shrink back, but would be willing to fight the good fight.

As Charles Spurgeon asked, “Wouldst thou be a feather-bed warrior, instead of bearing the rough fight of love?” Too many of us Christians are content to be arm-chair prophets and feather-bed warriors. As such, we have little to no power or impact on the raging battle at hand. But authentic biblical love is not passive and disengaged when evil rears its ugly head; it is active and engaged with truth, love and all of the weapons of our warfare!

Passive acceptance of evil is actually more of a Buddhist or Hindu value, rather than a biblically Christian aspiration. These Eastern faiths were formed to try to answer the question of how to cope with the problem of human suffering. Their answer was to essentially ignore it and escape it, by putting on blinders to reality, checking out, and by going within for “truth”-a profoundly hollow exercise. The world can appear to be a much safer place when you close your eyes, cover your ears, and harden your heart.

As believers, we are not supposed to escape from evil and suffering but we are rather to escape to evil and suffering-we are to proactively engage and overcome evil with good. I submit that when American Christians are passive in the presence of evil, we are not behaving as authentic robust biblical Christians, but as passive and selfish spiritual weaklings. The sad result is that we end up compromising, capitulating, and even assimilating to the darkness, rather than exposing it, opposing it, fighting it, and destroying it. This weakness it not irrelevant, but has serious negative consequences for our culture and the future of our children and grandchildren.

Authentic biblical Christianity is not passive. The Lord said, “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams”(I Samuel 15:22).  We should hate what our Father hates and love what our father loves-and do something about it. And James admonishes us “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22).  Jesus still admonishes us today to deny ourselves, pick up our crosses, and follow Him (Matthew 16:24).

God will hold us morally accountable not only for what we have done (sins of omission), He will also hold us accountable for what we have failed to do (sins of omission).  One of my heroes, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who literally gave his life to stop evil in his generation said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil; God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” The famous Christian British parliamentarian Edmund Burke wrote, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

As we are surrounded by evil, now is the time for good men and good women to do something. When we see evil we must boldly speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). When confronted by darkness we must act. We must never passively allow evil to triumph in our land, in our churches, or in our homes.

If you think you are not strong enough on your own to fight the good fight of faith, you are right! But you are not alone! God is with you! “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (II Chronicles 16:9). Step out in faith onto the battlefield and God will meet you there and He will empower you with strength, wisdom, and courage.

There’s a war raging! It is time for fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ to wake up and engage!  Now is the time to work and to fight for His Kingdom and His glory. We can rest in heaven. We fight not out of hate, but motivated by God’s holy-love, passion and power of our Father, who first loved us.

For now, let’s get out of our feather-beds, put on our armor, grab our weapons, and get our butts out on the battlefield! Prepare yourself for war, and fight in faith with the confidence that God wins in the end and we triumph with Him. And someday, though perhaps wounded, scarred, exhausted, and spent from battling many dark foes, you will understand and experience with joy the pleasure of your Father because you have fought a good fight, you will have finished your course, and there is laid up for you a crown of righteousness that does not fade. And on that day, you will hear those truly awesome words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” followed by the biggest party the universe has ever known!

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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.

Please share George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation (1789) at your tables today with family & friends.

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Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving from the National Center for Law & Policy (NCLP)! We have so much in America for which we can be thankful!

 

Please share George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation (1789) at your tables today with family & friends:

 

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

 

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

 

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

 

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

 

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

 

Go. Washington

 

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.

Federal lawsuit filed in San Diego to stop California pregnancy care center “Bully” law AB 775 that coerces conscience violating speech.

Baby

THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR LAW & POLICY NEWS RELEASE

October 13, 2015– FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT NCLP MEDIA RELATIONS: (760) 747- 4529, x103

SAN DIEGO, CA—Today a federal lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court challenging California Assembly Bill 775, the Reproductive FACT Act (“Act’). The Act forces California’s pregnancy care centers (“PCC’s”) to express government sanctioned speech that conflicts with and undermines PCC’s life-affirming beliefs and messages.

AB 775 passed the legislature on September 3, 2015 and was signed into law by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. on October 9, 2015. Plaintiffs are the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), the Pregnancy Care Clinic located in El Cajon, and the Fallbrook Pregnancy Resource Center. Named defendants include California Governor Edmund D. Brown, Jr., Attorney General Kamala Harris, co-sponsor of the legislation, San Diego County Counsel Thomas Montgomery, and El Cajon City Attorney Morgan Foley in their official capacities.

The lawsuit seeks injunctive and declaratory relief against the Act because it compels plaintiffs’ speech in violation of the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause, is impermissibly vague under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, violates the Free Exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment, and transgresses the Coats-Snow Amendment, 42 U.S.C. § 238n, a federal statute protecting licensed health care entities from being required to refer for abortion or make arrangements for such referrals.

The PCC’s are represented by The National Center for Law & Policy’s (NCLP) Dean Broyles and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys Matt Bowman, David J. Hacker, Kevin Theriot, and Elissa Graves. Anne O’Connor of National Institute of Family Life and Life Advocates (NIFLA) completes the legal team representing the plaintiffs.

Sponsored by NARAL and supported by Planned Parenthood, the Act unfairly targets California’s life affirming PCC’s with coerced speech designed to steer women away from PCC’s and towards abortion providers. The Act forces medical PCC’s to refer women elsewhere for free or low cost abortions. Non-medical PCC’s must, in very large, bold, conspicuous print, both at the clinic and in all advertising, notify women that they are not medically licensed. Violation of the law would lead to financially burdensome fines.

“Pregnancy care centers provide valuable resources and services to women facing unplanned pregnancies, giving them meaningful life-affirming alternatives to abortion, like adoption,” declared Dean Broyles. “I am honored to be a part of the legal team challenging this egregious and unjust law that violates the freedom of conscience, religious freedom, and the freedom of speech. If not stopped, the Act will lead to more unnecessary death and dismemberment of children.”

“Planned Parenthood and NARAL are cheerleaders for abortion,” continued Broyles. “The transparent goal of AB 775 is to increase the number of infant deaths in California by, now with the force of law, diverting women away from PCC’s to Planned Parenthood facilities and other abortuaries where death is aggressively promoted, babies are killed, dismembered, and their body parts sold for profit. This gruesome inhumanity and callousness has been on full display recently as Planned Parenthood doctors and others have been caught on tape operating grotesque baby chop shops, casually discussing trafficking in children’s body parts while crunching on salad and sipping Chardonnay, reducing human flesh to a highly profitable commodity.”

“Planned Parenthood and their allies have a clear conflict of interest as they stand to significantly profit from the Act,” added Broyles. “Laws similar to AB 775, coercing commercial speech, have already been successfully challenged and defeated in New York, Texas, and Maryland. Our legal team will work very hard to ensure that AB 775 experiences the same fate here in California.”

Please address media inquiries to The National Center for Law & Policy. The National Center for Law & Policy is a non-profit 501(c)(3) legal defense organization dedicated to the protection and promotion of religious freedom, the affirmation of life, parental rights, and other civil liberties. Please visit our website at www.nclplaw.org.

For further comment, please contact The National Center for Law & Policy at 760-747-4529 x103 or dbroyles@nclplaw.org.