by Nathan A. Cherry
“The Church is the conscience of the state.”
These words were uttered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Many wish such an influential man would have never said such a thing, and still others are actively seeking to remove any presence of a conscience from our society. Our government, undoubtedly based upon biblical principles designed to bring blessing from God and success, is now militantly removing God from every corner. The result of this push to redefine morality in our society and banish the church from influence will be devastating.
An article at the Acton Institute blog sheds light on these results:
“Charities will be negatively impacted or even forced to close their doors. More and more people will look first to a bankrupt and broken government for moral guidance. People’s capacity to seek truth and knowledge for their life will diminish. Elevating the state above the Church as the source of moral guidance and truth inverts the natural order of things, with disheartening and ultimately disastrous results…When government tramples inherent rights such as religious liberty, tyranny ensues.”
The government is in an all-out assault on religious liberty which can only lead to tyranny. Never before have the religious liberties and freedoms of Christians and people of faith been attacked as they have been in recent years. Students are being told they can’t even mention God on school property. This is not only an absolute lie; it is an attempt to remove anything remotely religious from our education system. The Obama administration is seeking to force people of faith to fund abortion in their healthcare via the HHS mandate. Churches have become targets for those seeking to force any expression of faith behind closed doors.
One church in Nevada was told to remove a sign or face fines. An article reports:
“A church is in a clash with Nevada County after being told to take down a sign with an American flag and a message to support the troops. Simple Truth Church put up the sign to cover an old, rundown billboard. However the ‘Support Our Troops’ sign is becoming quite controversial. If the church doesn’t remove the sign, it could be fined.”
At the heart of this issue is that the county is telling the church it needed a permit to change the old sign, even though the old sign stood for years without a permit to begin with. The logical conclusion of such actions by counties and states is a denial for religious expression by churches in order to not offend anyone. In other words, churches will be denied permits for signs and billboards with inherently religious messages because they are “offensive” to those of other faiths or those without any faith at all. The push to ensure no one is offended trumps, in the eyes of progressive liberals, all other rights; including free speech and religious freedom.
The Simple Truth Church example may appear small and of no particular consequence. But the trend it represents is deceptively dangerous and growing. More frequently the news is filled with examples of churches, Christians, and people of faith being persecuted for their religious convictions.
Other examples include the case of Elane Photography in New Mexico. This Christian photographer declined to render her services to a same-sex ceremony and was sued for discrimination. The New Mexico Supreme Court upheld the conviction and fine imposed and said it was “the price of citizenship.” That is a most chilling commentary on the state of religious freedom in America.
Another example is that of Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cake Shop on Colorado. Mr. Phillips declined to render his services to celebrate a homosexual wedding and was subsequently sued for discrimination. The judge in this case has ordered Phillips to serve the homosexual couple or face penalties. To this point Phillips has refused saying he would rather close his doors than violate his faith. Time will tell what happens, but the fact that we are having this discussion is disturbing.
This trend will, for the time being, only get worse. I see no reason to believe things will get better for people of faith or that religious freedom will increase as long as the current administration is in leadership. This does not mean that Christians should retreat into the shadows and refuse to express their faith openly and publicly. Such a decision would leave a void in our society and pave the way for further secularization in our absence.
What this does mean is that we will need to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” as we seek to influence our culture with the light of Christ and the Gospel of salvation. A statement from the Action blog article referenced above has a poignant reminder for us all:
“Christ of course will outlast any secular attempts to scrub his influence from society. But the current threat to religious freedom is real, and very dangerous. Unfortunately, the whole of society will reap the consequences.”