Rogue Nation: Birthplace of Religious Freedom Added to the List of Countries Where Christians Face the Most Persecution

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The silence was deafening as the United States, the birthplace of religious freedom, joined the infamous ranks of the world’s worst places to be a Christian—places where followers of Jesus Christ face the worst harassment and persecution because of their faith. Major American media outlets largely ignored a story of immense implications for the future of the Judeo-Christian worldview and western civilization.

This dirty dozen is a list created by the International Christian Concern (ICC), a watchdog organization formed in 1995 to protect the rights of Christians worldwide, released in its 2016 Hall of Shame Report. It was not surprising that the Islamist dominated countries of Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt and Nigeria made the list for their persecution and killing of the Christian “infidels.” Nor was it a shock that Russia, Mexico and India were noted because of the suppression of evangelical Christianity either by people espousing other variations of Christianity or by Jesus-hating radical Hindus. It is even understandable that that the totalitarian communist/atheist states of China and North Korea were included.

Nearly simultaneous with the ICC’s report was the European Parliament’s acknowledgement that Christianity, not Islam, is the world’s most persecuted religion. The Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World, confirmed that Christians are currently the earth’s most harassed and intimidated religious group that “routinely suffer religiously motivated persecution.”

Regarding the ICC report, what raises eyebrows is the first-time-ever addition of the United States to the list of the twelve worst countries for the Christian faith.  The ICC’s explanation is as follows:

“Throughout the US, current events and shifting perceptions are causing conflicts between Christian beliefs and public sentiment. This cultural shift affects Christians businesses, organizations and individuals through legal action, free speech infringement, public expressions of faith, and employment.”

The article explains that Christians in the US are facing constant attacks in the media, where they are portrayed as bigoted, racist, sexist, and close-minded. Furthermore, Christians and all religious people are being marginalized through laws and legal action. Specific examples include Christian bakers fined $135,000 for declining to back a cake for a same-sex wedding, Intervarsity Christian fellowship losing official recognition as a student club at California public colleges, employees being terminated because of their faith, and many more. The ICC report cites that claims of “intolerance” and “inequality” are being used to bully Christians and create legal precedents that are actually undermining well established First Amendment rights, including the freedom of speech and free exercise of religion.

As we celebrate the peaceful transfer of power, President-elect Trump may provide some relief for believers if he fulfills his promise to respect and restore religious freedom. The overwhelming evidence of the past eight years reveals that President Obama’s legacy must include the truth that he was no friend of religious freedom, exasperating Christians by his First Amendment undermining actions, which include, but are not limited to:

  • Trying to force Catholic nuns (The Little Sisters of the Poor) and other church groups to provide abortion-related products and services.
  • Supporting the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples (Obergefell v. Hodges).
  • The United States Commission on Civil Rights issuing its 2016 anti-religious hit piece report suggesting that sexual liberty (i.e. new anti-discrimination laws) should prevail over religious liberty claims (First Amendment protected) and asserting that “religious freedom” and “religious liberty” are code for anti-LBGT discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, etc. (i.e. Christians are the “deplorables”).
  • The Department of Justice and Department of Education’s 2016 transgender bathroom mandate, forcing public schools to allow student access to bathrooms and locker rooms corresponding based on their perceived gender identity rather than their biological sex.

The ICC posits that part of the explanation for the change may be growing secularization, citing a Pew Research poll showing that those the total U.S. adult population identifying as non-religious jumped by seven percent in just seven years, from 16 percent to 23 percent (2007-2014). Notably, a stunning 35 percent of millennials identify as atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular! The report, How America Changed During Barack Obama’s Presidency, confirms that those identifying as Christians also dropped seven percent, from 78 percent to 71 percent, though the share of evangelicals has remained fairly stable. So, what does this all mean?

First, it means we must recognize that there is rapidly growing public pressure on American Christians today, as many secular-progressive elite forces are seeking to drive us out of the public square into hiding and to silence us and the gospel of Jesus Christ. We live in a time where, sadly, the church is far more influenced by the culture than it is influencing the culture. “One nation” once “under God” has become “divisible,” and divided, as we are now left “with liberty and justice for” some. Most Christians in the US are not handling the current hostile environment very well and many are simply giving in to the pressure, allowing themselves to be silenced and marginalized. Biblical resistance is required. Millennials are the most vulnerable to cultural pressure and the church must do a much better job of inculcating a comprehensive biblical worldview, passing the baton of “the faith of our fathers,” to them.

Second, it means, as I have been warning others for more than a decade, that we are rapidly moving from “soft” persecution towards “hard” persecution of the church in a place formerly known as the land of the free and home of the brave. It is true that while some of us are losing our livelihood, we are not being imprisoned or killed yet, but if the pendulum keeps swinging in its current direction, those prospects may not be far off. The separation of sheep and goats, already well underway, will continue and accelerate. Do not be alarmed that many you thought were authentic believers were only pretending. We need to realize that persecution is a normal part of being a Christian and gird our loins accordingly.

Third, it means that if we value our freedom and the gospel of Jesus Christ, we had better wake up, engage the culture by speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15), and fight the good fight of faith by actively pushing back culturally, politically, and legally. The American “health and wealth gospel” will be nakedly unmasked for the fraud that it always was. This is not the time for wimpy, half-hearted, “fluffy-bunny” Jesus or “comfortable” Christianity. Those days are long gone in America.  But do not despair!  We have the hope and confidence that our ultimate victory is secure in Jesus Christ. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness had not overcome it (John 1:5).

Ready or not, Biblical promises of persecution are about to get very “real” and, especially for the unprepared, it’s going to be a rough ride. You are not alone. There is a strong remnant. You are surrounded by a cloud of faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Be much in the Word, prayer, and fellowship. Be filled with the Spirit. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.

French court recognizes the “right” to not be offended by the truth! 

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Last month a French court upheld an administrative ban on a positive and uplifting television advertisement featuring children with Down Syndrome.  The constructive commercial was created by the World Down Syndrome Foundation in 2014 to commemorate World Down Syndrome Day.  The touching tribute has more than 7.5 million views on YouTube.

The positive piece features children addressing a pregnant woman who has been informed her child will have Down Syndrome. The woman writes, “I’m scared: What kind of life will my child have?” In reply, beautiful smiling children with Down Syndrome from across the globe reassure the anxious mother that her child will be able to hug, run to you, speak, write, go to school, work, tell you he loves you, be happy and you will be happy too.  The children acknowledge that it will be “difficult,” but “[i]sn’t it like that for all mothers?”  The video closes with the smiling children hugging their mothers.  I strongly encourage you to take a few minutes to watch the video.

One thing is clear: France can’t handle the truth. In fact, because the powerful promotion did not make the secular progressive French government “happy,” the Orwellian court recently upheld a ban of the video by the French Broadcasting Council.  The court found that the depiction of happy and healthy children with Down Syndrome was “likely to disturb the conscience of women who had lawfully made different personal life choices.”

George Will in the Washington Post brilliantly points out the disturbing trend of the secular left’s growing discomfort with inconvenient truths, leading increasingly to state suppression of facts when they do not comfortably align with the worldviews of those peddling self-serving distortions of reality.

“Pictures persuade. Today’s improved prenatal sonograms make graphic the fact that the moving fingers and beating heart are not mere “fetal material.” They are a baby. Toymaker Fisher-Price, children’s apparel manufacturer OshKosh, McDonald’s and Target have featured Down syndrome children in ads that the French court would probably ban from television.”

France’s morally vacuous pagan thinking is not limited to post-Christian Europe and is having a deadly effect worldwide. In France, approximately 97% of babies with Down Syndrome, as revealed by pre-natal genetic testing, are killed. In America the rate is 90%.  In this regard, Margaret Sanger would applaud the French government for its callous commitment to the dark “virtues” of eugenics.  This is the result of an increasing rejection of the truth that each life is sacred and beautiful, being known by God and created in His image.

What France is in effect saying is that the lives of people with Down Syndrome, and by implication people with any disabilities, are not worth living or allowing to live.  Our wonderful and precious sixteen year old adopted son Ryan has autism. He is a unique and valuable blessing who brings our family a lot of joy every day.  My wife has often remarked that she is very happy they have not yet developed a genetic test for autism, otherwise millions of American children, including our beautiful Ryan, might not have escaped the womb alive.

But what France is also saying is that the state should have the authority to suppress the truth when it does not support the state’s preferred message on the subject.  However, France’s foolishness does not end there.  In doing so, the court recognizes a “right” of women who have decided to kill their children with Down Syndrome to not have to face reality in a TV commercial or be “offended” by the truth.

Can America handle the truth? Perhaps not. I pray that such foolish totalitarian-fascism will not come to America, but I fear that it is already here.  Many college campuses have turned into politically correct coddling centers where sensitive liberal “snow flake” students are assigned to safe spaces and cry rooms and given Play-Doh and coloring books.  Why? Apparently, it is to avoid hard truths and hurt feelings.  While students with traditional beliefs, especially those based upon a Judeo-Christian worldview, are increasingly ostracized, demonized, and marginalized.  When feelings replace facts, you know that a culture is collapsing.

What about the feelings of the Christian florists, bakers, and photographers? Well, apparently because their beliefs are not aligned with uber-liberal PC values, their feelings, religious beliefs, economic interests, and civil rights just do not matter and are not entitled to any recognition or respect.  Therefore, those darn Christians can now in the name of a new brand of “justice,” be dragged before human rights commissions, fined, run out of business, and lose their livelihoods.  Tragically, the land of justice, freedom, and equality has increasingly become for many Christians a land of intolerance and injustice—where some people are less free and some civil rights are more equal than others.

Where does this all end?  If these disturbing trends continue unopposed and unabated, I fear we will see increasing state coerced distortions of reality and suppression truth, thought, and expression—especially the freedom of speech and religious freedom—all in the name of progress!

It is time for us to rise up and rededicate ourselves to being America again, not France. The very lives and the civil rights of millions of Americans, yet unborn, depend on it!

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!

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 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).