Archive for the ‘Church and State’ Category

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“A long heritage of reflection argues that if freedom of religion is progressively trimmed, it is only a matter of time before freedom,more comprehensively envisaged, is also progressively trimmed. It is not for nothing that freedom of religion is often called the first freedom – not merely in historical sequence, but in its foundational power.”
-Carson, D. A.. The intolerance of tolerance. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Pub., 2012. Loc. 1669 of 2278, Kindle file.

The erosion of religious freedom is no trivial matter. If Christianity is forced into total privatization, rest assured “democratic tyranny” will lead to a type of political tyranny of a sort this nation has never known. When atheistic naturalism has eliminated the only moral voice opposing it (religion), freedom of religion will not be the only nor the last “inalienable right” to be alienated. My guess would be that the right to free expression or the right to bear arms will be targeted next.

This is what John Loeffler of the Steel on Steel radio program calls the “attack of the comma-buts”, which goes something like “yes you have the right to (fill in the blank), but (insert some supposedly conflicting right-legitimate or state-contrived) trumps that right.”

In a world without restraint from actual objective moral truth, to muzzle and kick-to-the-curb the only prophetic voice urging moral sanity, is opening the way for the worst of the prophetic passages of the Bible. To be silent now is to commit intellectual and political suicide.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams

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It is a shame when liars try to come across as the vanguards of liberty. Not only is our nation Biblically illiterate, it is also Constitutionally illiterate, and totalitarian forces would love to strip every right that religious-minded folks have. They are not satisfied to have their voice heard, they want to silence any opposing voice. That is exactly the reason many of our founding fathers fled Europe in the first place; yet here we are again. Pray for your nation, friends, and family while you can. First they will force us to contain our views to our places of worship, then they will outlaw the places of worship…but probably only Christians.

“It’s in the title of the bill, lawmakers said, the \”Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.\” They further noted that no church or clergy will be forced to solemnize any same-sex marriage or rent their parish or fellowship halls for any type of same-sex wedding recognition.

It’s all good, lawmakers assured faith groups and religious organizations. Your religious freedom is secure.

Where have we heard that before?

How about three years ago, when Illinois lawmakers promised during floor debate on civil unions legislation that no faith-based social service organizations would be affected. But within six months of civil unions becoming law, all Catholic Charities in the state were pushed out of their longtime mission of caring for abused, abandoned, and neglected children. The state refused to renew contracts for foster care and adoption services because of Charities\’ religious belief of not placing children with unmarried couples, be they heterosexual or homosexual.

We know better this time. We know our religious freedom is not protected. And when we asked for more protection, our pleas for fairness were rebuffed and spurned.”

via RealClearReligion – The End of Religious Liberty in the Landof Lincoln.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric

An excellent post! Please read it…you’ll thank me later.

“Dan Barker’s Freedom from Religion Foundation is immersed in their annual war against all things religious.  That is of course how they view it:  a war.  In this war, they have had quite a few successes, in large part because they realized early on that public sentiment was not on their side.  That is, they could never achieve their goals legislatively.  Their only hope was to turn to the courts, and here the playing field is more to their advantage.  After all, it is easier to persuade one judge or three than it is a million, hundred thousand, etc.

In a guest view posted today in the La Crosse Tribune, Dan Barker comes out in defense of the ‘in your face tactics’ that his organization has been employing.  Basically his argument is this:  religious people have been ridiculing nonbelievers for thousands of years, so turnabout is fair play.  We of course will bear in mind the common view taken by nonbelievers that they are morally superior to believers–the present example a good illustration of how well they ‘rise above’ the bad behavior of religious people… by joining in.

“What is wrong with ridicule?  What is wrong with protest?” Dan Barker wants to know.  “Protestantism is based on protest–it’s right there in the word itself.”  The irony, here of course, is that Dan Barker and his ilk does wish to immunize their viewpoints from public scrutiny and ridicule.  If you raise your voice, even ever so slightly, with a new atheist, you will practically drive them to tears and indignation.  You see, they can be as rude as they like.  Not only must you treat them with extreme politeness, but of course you must give into their every whim in the name of ‘tolerance’ and ‘diversity.’

One searches for the appropriate prism by which to view such attitudes, and I think we have at least our first hint in Barker’s letter.  “To us nonbelievers, the nativity scene is a ridicule of human nature. … Believers might see a cute baby in a manger, but most nonbelievers see a reprehensible put-down of humanity.”

This is akin to the claims often heard that the mere sight of Ten Commandment tablets on public property, or lighted crosses, or whatever, causes them great mental anguish.  Of course, we know the truth:  they need to say such absolutely asinine and ridiculous things in order for their court cases to go forward.  Personally, I doubt very much that they are as effected, but let’s take Barker at his word in this case:  the mere sight of a nativity scene evokes the sense that they are being ridiculed and reprehensibly put-down.

Through what prism should we view such people?  I think we must regard them as being more like children than anything else.  If there is anything that drives children batty, it’s seeing other people enjoying a toy that they themselves cannot have.  If they can arrange it–and bullies have some skill with this–when they get the toy, they will guard it fiercely to keep others from sharing in the pleasure.  In my household, I have seen my own children hide items that they had lost all interest in just so that their siblings couldn’t have them.

Similarly, the mere sight of something that offends a new atheist is enough to drive them batty.  Not content to do what adults learn to do (change the channel, avert their eyes, shop somewhere else, ignore, etc) they’ve got to put a stop to it.  After they’ve put a stop to it, of course they have to make sure that no one else can do the same, even if it doesn’t impact them in the slightest.  I don’t know how else to view this behavior other than childish.

I will now be seen as ‘ridiculing’ them by this characterization.   Well, sometimes the truth hurts.  Mere ridicule is meant to merely hurt.  Telling the truth is meant to convey a benefit.  I do earnestly wish the new atheists would grow up.  After all, if you put children in charge of the operation of heavy machinery, the odds are that someone will soon get very hurt.  However, if someone decides to view it simply as mockery, then I appeal to Dan Barker for my defense:  “What is wrong with ridicule?  What is wrong with protest?”

Another characteristic of children is that they can dish it out, but they can’t take it.   I doubt we’ll see anything in the comment section on this that will prove me wrong in my assessment.  In religion they see a perceived slight, and in response to this perception, they have no qualms against dishing out actual slights.  They expect everyone to be cowed by this, but having been on the receiving end of actual physical threats by new atheists, I assure you, this is one writer that won’t be.

Unfortunately, these children are more canny than most and, again, most unfortunately, have access to ‘heavy machinery.’

Buried in Barker’s screed is an even more pernicious goal that his FFRF has, beyond merely being jerks trying to prove a point:

In America, Christians are welcome to celebrate whatever they want. We are happy to share the season with them. They just can’t use the government to privilege their party over everyone else’s.

[…]

Christians can do whatever they like in their churches and private property, but in the American public square, there is room at the inn for all of us.

 The idea that putting up nativity scenes or other icons of religion ‘privileges’ religious folks is so absurd that I cannot even believe that we have to take it seriously.  I think it is clear from the foregoing that on the merits, I don’t.  However, the argument and attitude encapsulated in the two quotes above must be taken very seriously because the stakes are very high, indeed.

To explain, allow me to frame it this way.  Every December we have to deal with a bunch of whiny, perpetually offended atheists, chiseling away at all religious expression the public square.   Dan Barker says that ‘there is room at the inn for all of us’, but if he believes that, my regard for his intellect goes even lower than it was.  I think the evidence is that he does not believe that and in fact he is purposefully trying to achieve the opposite.  In Barker’s world, any religious expression in the public square constitutes ‘using the government to privilege one religion over another.’  “Christians can do whatever they like in their churches and private property” but in FFRF’s conduct we know that they cannot do anything they like outside their churches and off their private property.

By way of example, a slew of atheists filed an amicus brief against Hosanna-Tabor Lutheran School in their attempt to fire someone who flagrantly disregarded the beliefs and values of that institution.  The FFRF is not a signatory (a surprise, honestly) but they are all the same crew.  In the amicus we read:

 Amici wish to bolster the principle of religious neutrality that government may not prefer religion over nonreligion [..] A decision of this Court recognizing the ministerial exception would have the constitutionally impermissible effect of denying equal protection of the laws to the employees of religious organizations and of advancing religion by creating special rights for religious defendants, and in so doing undermine the rule of law.

 You can stop laughing now.  No, really. They actually said that they cared about the ‘rule of law.’  Stop your chuckling and attend to my words.

You see in this comment the exact reference to ‘the principle of religious neutrality’ that Barker made.

In a bizarre twist, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously against the atheists.  Where that puts the American Atheists/Humanist’s assertion that the Sixth Circuit’s argument was ‘based on a misreading of the Constitution’ I don’t know.  Still my point in referencing this example is to show that in point of fact, atheists do not think that “Christians can do whatever they like in their churches and private property.”  Actually, they believe that this constitutes ‘special rights for religious defendants.’

Now, are they lying about their true position or is their worldview so incoherent that even four fabulously progressive liberals on the Supreme Court couldn’t get it to align with reason?  I don’t have the answer to this question, but personally I think it is a little of both, with the addition that they say some of the stupid things they say as part of a legal strategem.  (Really?  They’re offended by a baby in a manger?  I find it hard to believe.)

For our purposes it doesn’t matter how we answer that.  What matters is that we are aware that there are bigger things afoot.

It is worth mentioning here that Hosanna-Tabor was up against the Federal government itself– the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.   In short, the Obama Administration.  (One more reason I’m perplexed by the decision, since two of the SCOTUS appointees were made by Obama.)

The Obama Administration buys into the new atheist argument that the Constitution implies a ‘principle of religious neutrality’ that entails no ‘special rights for religious defendants.’  Indeed, we just saw them enact HHS rules requiring religious organizations to fund behaviors that they find morally objectionable: contraception;  which of course sometimes is identical with abortion itself.  (I understand that many liberals view abortion itself as contraception.  I’m referring to the fact that some contraceptive drugs are actually abortifacients.)

Here again we discover that the secular humanists do not really believe that “Christians can do whatever they like in their churches and private property.”

What Obama has been saying is that the Constitution enshrines a ‘right to worship,’ but in his conduct, as well, we see the same sort of dilemma where we either have to conclude that he has jello for brains or he is simply a liar.  Even in his book, Christians can’t do whatever they like in their churches and private property.

Now let us compare these sentiments with the actual words of the Constitution:

 Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

 Usually we talk about the first half of this–the establishment of religion.  Atheists have made great headway towards creating the precedent that allowing nativity scenes on public property constitutes an ‘establishment of religion.’  On this view, a Christian’s bumper sticker on his car on a public road constitutes an ‘establishment of religion.’  He is, after all, on public property.  But my point is to the second part of the clause:  “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

I will casually note that the clause does not go on to say, “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof in their churches and private property.”

With all religious expression in the public square fiercely attacked every year at this time and the atheists and Federal agencies with Obama at the head pushing headlong into the affairs of ‘their churches and private property’ one is hard pressed to imagine just what kind of ‘free exercise’ these folks will actually allow.  To me, it seems to consist solely of singing Kum Bah Yah, provided that no one else can hear you.

This is a far cry from what the Constitution says or implies.  It is quite clear from the words of the first amendment that, contrary to modern assertions otherwise, that the government cannot limit religious expression in the public sphere, period.  Moreover, since the same sentence forbids and establishment of religion even as it forbids prohibiting the free exercise of religion, the framers obviously did not perceive that the latter necessarily amounted to the former.

We must think very seriously about what may happen if the lunatics consolidate their control over the asylum.  If the Obama administration and his atheist backers succeed in driving ‘religious expression’ into the deep recesses of our skulls, allowing it public expression only insofar as one is publicly seen moving from one’s car to one’s church, what kind of society can we expect?

I would like to answer this question by pointing out that Christmas is not the only holiday that Christians have given us.  The list is actually quite long–atheists of course have not given us any–but there is one in particular I want to emphasize:  Independence Day.

As Barker correctly notes, European settlers to the Americas were driven on in search of religious freedom.  (He incorrectly has the Puritans fleeing the Roman Catholics.)  The first people to come to America were deeply concerned about the ‘establishment of religion’, which is reinforced by the fact that the first ten words of the entire Bill of Rights moves to prohibit it, and the next six words insists that religious expression shall not be prohibited.  Then comes the right to free speech, the right of a free press, and so on.

Compare the placement of these words and their emphatic nature with a comparable document that would arise shortly after, in the ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man“, one of the founding documents of the French Revolution.

 10.  No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, including his religious views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.

 11.  The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law.

 As the French Revolution played out, the import of the italicized caveats became clear.  Spurred on by Enlightenment principles (ie, ones that disparaged religion and held ‘free thought’ very high, indeed), in very short order there came massacre upon massacre.  Something called “the Committee of Public Safety” (not to be confused with the Health and Human Services department) established itself as a virtual dictatorship, and in the ‘Reign of Terror’ some 40,000 people were simply executed.   After all, each shall be responsible for the abuses of their freedom, and by no means should the public order be disturbed.

This is an aside, but an important one:  it may seem odd that the Committee of Public Safety, acting on principles espoused in a nice sounding document such as ‘the Declaration of the Rights of Man’ could turn so viciously upon their own fellowman, but there was something else in that declaration that goes far to explain it–

 3.  The principle of all sovereignty resides essentially in the nation. No body nor individual may exercise any authority which does not proceed directly from the nation.

 In other words, the nation comes first.  Individual rights come from the nation–and can be taken away.  The nation is everything, and anything that undermines the nation must be violently dealt with.

Compare and contrast with the first words of the American Declaration of Independence:

 We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

 In other words, the individual comes first.  Their rights come from God and not even a nation or ‘social contract’ can obliterate them.  The former principle led to the slaughter of tens of thousands, the latter principle to the freedom of millions.

With some exceptions, sadly:  the American founders did not do the right thing and abolish slavery as they ought to have done so right at the start.  In the name of the ‘nation’ (ie, the former principle, and not the latter) they sacrificed their own principles.  In about sixty years, Abraham Lincoln would rise victorious in a conflict that would slay 500,000 people:  in the name of the nation.  (Stand by for cheap shot:  It is probably a coincidence that Lincoln is a favorite of many atheists.)

I think it is safe to say that nothing but blood and terror has followed where the principle that the nation stands above everything else, and everything else must answer in accordance to whether or not it ‘disturbs the public order.’

The American framers understood that checks and balances were absolutely necessary for a fair and just society to exist–because “We are all damned sinners who need to be ‘saved’ by bowing down to the baby in the manger.”  In other words, they saw as a simple statement of truth about humans what atheists regard as a “reprehensible put-down of humanity.”  Original sin is real.  If you believe as such, liberty is the result.  If you don’t, the French Revolution, the American Civil War, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Holocaust, Pol Pot’s Killing Fields, and so on and so forth, is the result.

Understand why I say this.  It is different than the typical battle over atheism’s role in 20th century atrocities.  Yes, most of the revolutionaries referenced in these examples were atheists, but one does not need to be an atheist in order to fall into the trap that the ‘nation’ is a thing to be upheld at all costs.

That was a long aside, but it had to be said, because this is essentially the same issue that is before us today:  to what exactly will we give our highest allegiance and who will decide this question?

The Christian men and women of early America argued that God warrants our highest allegiance, but this question is worked out individually, not collectively.   Their beliefs gave us Independence Day, another holiday that ‘we get to stay home for.’  Driven on by their religious beliefs, they gave freedom to all.

To put the whole thing another way, just as you can only have pacifists in a country ringed by armed protectors, you can only have atheists in a country where the ‘free expression’ of religion in all spheres–public and private–are welcome.    Only in a country where it is actually the case, and not mere lip service, that “there is room at the inn for all of us”, can there be life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Dan Barker and the New Atheist Quest for the Freedom From Religion, if successful, will end in their own slavery, along with everyone else’s, because if ever our fellow man is given the right and authority to decide where we put our ultimate allegiances, abuse and tyranny is bound to follow.  So is the testimony of history.

So, while the efforts of the FFRF are very childish indeed, their successes do not bode well for the future.  Not ours, nor theirs, either.”

via Dan Barker’s War on Religion, Though Childish, Has Adult Implications | Athanatos Christian Apologetics Ministry.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams
Rossville, GA
godsguy12@comcast.net
jadams012@gmail.com
christianreasons@gmail.com
http://about.me/eric.adams
http://christianreasons.com/

English: A woman makes her support of her marr...

English: A woman makes her support of her marriage, and not civil unions, known outside the Mormon temple at New York City’s Lincoln Center. Photographer’s blog post about this photo and the protest. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Same-Sex Marriage Ten Years On: Lessons from Canada

by  Bradley Miller

November 5th, 2012

The effects of same-sex civil marriage in Canada—restrictions on free speech rights, parental rights in education, and autonomy rights of religious institutions, along with a weakening of the marriage culture—provide lessons for the United States.

Would recognizing same-sex relationships as marriages be much of a game-changer? What impact, if any, would it have on the public conception of marriage or the state of a nation’s marriage culture?

There has been no shortage of speculation on these questions. But the limited American experience with same-sex marriage to date gives us few concrete answers. So it makes sense to consider the Canadian experience since the first Canadian court established same-sex marriage a decade ago. There are, of course, important cultural and institutional differences between the US and Canada and, as is the case in any polity, much depends upon the actions of local political and cultural actors. That is to say, it is not necessarily safe to assume that Canadian experiences will be replicated here. But they should be considered; the Canadian experience is the best available evidence of the short-term impact of same-sex marriage in a democratic society very much like America.

Anyone interested in assessing the impact of same-sex marriage on public life should investigate the outcomes in three spheres: first, human rights (including impacts on freedom of speech, parental rights in public education, and the autonomy of religious institutions); second, further developments in what sorts of relationships political society will be willing to recognize as a marriage (e.g., polygamy); and third, the social practice of marriage.

The Impact on Human Rights

The formal effect of the judicial decisions (and subsequent legislation) establishing same-sex civil marriage in Canada was simply that persons of the same-sex could now have the government recognize their relationships as marriages. But the legal and cultural effect was much broader. What transpired was the adoption of a new orthodoxy: that same-sex relationships are, in every way, the equivalent of traditional marriage, and that same-sex marriage must therefore be treated identically to traditional marriage in law and public life.

A corollary is that anyone who rejects the new orthodoxy must be acting on the basis of bigotry and animus toward gays and lesbians. Any statement of disagreement with same-sex civil marriage is thus considered a straightforward manifestation of hatred toward a minority sexual group. Any reasoned explanation (for example, those that were offered in legal arguments that same-sex marriage is incompatible with a conception of marriage that responds to the needs of the children of the marriage for stability, fidelity, and permanence—what is sometimes called the conjugal conception of marriage), is dismissed right away as mere pretext.

When one understands opposition to same-sex marriage as a manifestation of sheer bigotry and hatred, it becomes very hard to tolerate continued dissent. Thus it was in Canada that the terms of participation in public life changed very quickly. Civil marriage commissioners were the first to feel the hard edge of the new orthodoxy; several provinces refused to allow commissioners a right of conscience to refuse to preside over same-sex weddings, and demanded their resignations. At the same time, religious organizations, such as the Knights of Columbus, were fined for refusing to rent their facilities for post-wedding celebrations.

The Right to Freedom of Expression

The new orthodoxy’s impact has not been limited to the relatively small number of persons at risk of being coerced into supporting or celebrating a same-sex marriage. The change has widely affected persons—including clergy—who wish to make public arguments about human sexuality.

Much speech that was permitted before same-sex marriage now carries risks. Many of those who have persisted in voicing their dissent have been subjected to investigations by human rights commissions and (in some cases) proceedings before human rights tribunals. Those who are poor, poorly educated, and without institutional affiliation have been particularly easy targets—anti-discrimination laws are not always applied evenly.  Some have been ordered to pay fines, make apologies, and undertake never to speak publicly on such matters again. Targets have included individuals writing letters to the editors of local newspapers, and ministers of small congregations of Christians. A Catholic bishop faced two complaints—both eventually withdrawn—prompted by comments he made in a pastoral letter about marriage.

Reviewing courts have begun to rein in the commissions and tribunals (particularly since some ill-advised proceedings against Mark Steyn andMaclean’s magazine in 2009), and restore a more capacious view of freedom of speech. And in response to the public outcry following the Steyn/Maclean’saffair, the Parliament of Canada recently revoked the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s statutory jurisdiction to pursue “hate speech.”

But the financial cost of fighting the human rights machine remains enormous—Maclean’s spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, none of which is recoverable from the commissions, tribunals, or complainants. And these cases can take up to a decade to resolve. An ordinary person with few resources who has drawn the attention of a human rights commission has no hope of appealing to the courts for relief; such a person can only accept the admonition of the commission, pay a (comparatively) small fine, and then observe the directive to remain forever silent. As long as these tools remain at the disposal of the commissions—for whom the new orthodoxy gives no theoretical basis to tolerate dissent—to engage in public discussion about same-sex marriage is to court ruin.

Similar pressure can be—and is—brought to bear on dissenters by professional governing bodies (such as bar associations, teachers’ colleges, and the like) that have statutory power to discipline members for conduct unbecoming of the profession. Expressions of disagreement with the reasonableness of institutionalizing same-sex marriage are understood by these bodies to be acts of illegal discrimination, which are matters for professional censure.

Teachers are particularly at risk for disciplinary action, for even if they only make public statements criticizing same-sex marriage outside the classroom, they are still deemed to create a hostile environment for gay and lesbian students. Other workplaces and voluntary associations have adopted similar policies as a result of their having internalized this new orthodoxy that disagreement with same-sex marriage is illegal discrimination that must not be tolerated.

Parental Rights in Public Education

Institutionalizing same-sex marriage has subtly but pervasively changed parental rights in public education. The debate over how to cast same-sex marriage in the classroom is much like the debate over the place of sex education in schools, and of governmental pretensions to exercise primary authority over children. But sex education has always been a discrete matter, in the sense that by its nature it cannot permeate the entirety of the curriculum. Same-sex marriage is on a different footing.

Since one of the tenets of the new orthodoxy is that same-sex relationships deserve the same respect that we give marriage, its proponents have been remarkably successful in demanding that same-sex marriage be depicted positively in the classroom. Curriculum reforms in jurisdictions such as British Columbia now prevent parents from exercising their long-held veto power over contentious educational practices.

The new curricula are permeated by positive references to same-sex marriage, not just in one discipline but in all. Faced with this strategy of diffusion, the only parental defense is to remove one’s children from the public school system entirely. Courts have been unsympathetic to parental objections: if parents are clinging to outdated bigotries, then children must bear the burden of “cognitive dissonance”—they must absorb conflicting things from home and school while school tries to win out.

The reforms, of course, were not sold to the public as a matter of enforcing the new orthodoxy. Instead, the stated rationale was to prevent bullying; that is, to promote the acceptance of gay and lesbian youth and the children of same-sex households.

It is a laudable goal to encourage acceptance of persons. But whatever can be said for the objective, the means chosen to achieve it is a gross violation of the family. It is nothing less than the deliberate indoctrination of children (over the objections of their parents) into a conception of marriage that is fundamentally hostile to what the parents understand to be in their children’s best interests. It frustrates the ability of parents to lead their children to an understanding of marriage that will be conducive to their flourishing as adults. At a very early age, it teaches children that the underlying rationale of marriage is nothing other than the satisfaction of changeable adult desires for companionship.

Religious Institutions’ Right to Autonomy

At first glance, clergy and houses of worship appeared largely immune from coercion to condone or perform same-sex marriages. Indeed, this was the grand bargain of the same-sex marriage legislation—clergy would retain the right not to perform marriages that would violate their religious beliefs. Houses of worship could not be conscripted against the wishes of religious bodies.

It should have been clear from the outset just how narrow this protection is. It only prevents clergy from being coerced into performing marriage ceremonies. It does not, as we have seen, shield sermons or pastoral letters from the scrutiny of human rights commissions. It leaves congregations vulnerable to legal challenges if they refuse to rent their auxiliary facilities to same-sex couples for their ceremony receptions, or to any other organization that will use the facility to promote a view of sexuality wholly at odds with their own.

Neither does it prevent provincial and municipal governments from withholding benefits to religious congregations because of their marriage doctrine. For example, Bill 13, the same Ontario statute that compels Catholic schools to host “Gay-Straight Alliance” clubs (and to use that particular name), also prohibits public schools from renting their facilities to organizations that will not agree to a code of conduct premised on the new orthodoxy. Given that many small Christian congregations rent school auditoriums to conduct their worship services, it is easy to appreciate their vulnerability.

Changes to the Public Conception of Marriage

It has been argued that if same-sex marriage is institutionalized, new marital categories may be accepted, like polygamy. Once one abandons a conjugal conception of marriage, and replaces it with a conception of marriage that has adult companionship as its focus, there is no principled basis for resisting the extension of marriage licenses to polygamist and polyamorist unions.

In other words, if marriage is about satisfying adult desires for companionship, and if the desires of some adults extend to more novel arrangements, how can we deny them? I will not here evaluate this claim, but simply report how this scenario has played out in Canada.

One prominent polygamist community in British Columbia was greatly emboldened by the creation of same-sex marriage, and publicly proclaimed that there was now no principled basis for the state’s continued criminalization of polygamy. Of all the Canadian courts, only a trial court in British Columbia has addressed whether prohibiting polygamy is constitutional, and provided an advisory opinion to the province’s government. The criminal prohibition of polygamy was upheld, but on a narrow basis that defined polygamy as multiple, concurrent civil marriages. The court did not address the phenomenon of multiple common-law marriages. So, thus far, the dominant forms of polygamy and polyamory practiced in Canada have not gained legal status, but neither have they faced practical impediments.

The lesson is this: a society that institutionalizes same-sex marriage needn’t necessarily institutionalize polygamy. But the example from British Columbia suggests that the only way to do so is to ignore principle. The polygamy case’s reasoning gave no convincing explanation why it would be discriminatory not to extend the marriage franchise to gays and lesbians, but not discriminatory to draw the line at polygamists and polyamorists. In fact, the judgment looks like it rests on animus toward polygamists and polyamorists, which is not a stable juridical foundation.

Continue reading at Same-Sex Marriage Ten Years On: Lessons from Canada | Public Discourse.

An excellent post about where this ol’ train started derailing:

“The blame Romney game begins: If only the GOP had had a more aggressive candidate, a more pointed message, a better ground game in several states. The blame God game also commences: If only Superstorm Sandy hadn’t let Barack Obama break Mitt Romney’s momentum.

Maybe, maybe, yet Gov. Romney did OK given the state of our culture. Republicans lost this presidential election not just yesterday, but:

Fifty years ago, as increasingly liberal college faculties began to exclude dissenters from the new academic orthodoxy. The Daily Princetonian reports that 155 members of Princeton University’s faculty or staff donated to President Obama, and only two (one visiting lecturer in engineering, one janitor) to Romney. We’ve delivered generations of students to left-wing propagandizing, and the effect is telling.

Forty years ago, as state after state created no-fault divorce and marriage became a contract breakable by one party for any reason, rather than a lifelong commitment. Married women still vote Republican, but the increasing number of the never-married and divorced vote overwhelming Democratic, seeing government as a provider.

Thirty years ago, as the Moral Majority and other religious organizations bulwarked the Reagan administration. While the political approach was needed at the time, that success led some Christians to emphasize short-term fixes rather than long-time preaching of the Gospel and working to transform culture.

Twenty years ago, as the advent of talk radio left many conservatives thinking they had a weapon adequate to overcome the influences of liberal newspapers and news magazines. That proved untrue, because those print publications still do the original reporting and storytelling that frames national debates.

Ten years ago, when President George W. Bush (and almost everyone else, including me) settled for faulty intelligence. He led the country into an Iraq War that could not receive sustained public support once the truth came out and an even harder truth—that Islam and liberty do not go together—penetrated our theological illiteracy.

Five years ago, when Bush tried valiantly to push through a plan to deal with Hispanic immigration, but could not summon sufficient GOP support. Romney this year ran to the right on immigration and did even worse among Hispanics than John McCain did in 2008.”

via WORLD | Slow train coming | Marvin Olasky | Nov. 7, 2012.

 

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams
Rossville, GA
godsguy12@comcast.net
jadams012@gmail.com
christianreasons@gmail.com
http://about.me/eric.adams
http://christianreasons.com/

 

Over the last few years, I have delved deeply into the Confessional Lutheran well. I owe them a great debt. One of the Lutheran distinctions that has had a great impact on me has been Luther’s teaching on the Two Kingdoms. What follows is an excellent sermon on this perspective in light of the recent election, written by Pastor Shawn Stafford. Be edified…thank you, dear Lutherans.

“In the weeks leading up to the presidential election, we were told that our country’s future was hanging in the balance. The candidates presented different approaches to education, health care, the war on the terror, the economy, and taxes. Maybe the candidate you hoped to win did, and perhaps he didn’t. While the results of the election may change the course of our government and direction of our nation, what it doesn’t change is that God is the One who has established the authority of government and uses it preserve order. For us Christians, it also doesn’t change the fact that we are “Living as Citizens of the Two Kingdoms.” You are citizens of an earthly kingdom, and you are citizens of the heavenly kingdom. You have a temporary citizenship, and you have an eternal citizenship. And tonight’s text teaches that although these two kingdoms are very different from one another, both of them are from God. Therefore as citizens of the two kingdoms, we have duties toward God and duties toward the government.

(Dual citizenship.)

First let us consider our duty toward the government. Why do we have duties toward the government? The Bible tells us that the authorities in the kingdoms of the earth have received their authority from God. As we read in Romans 13(:1), “For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” Why has God established earthly authority? What benefits do we receive from God’s hands through authorities in the earthly kingdom? The duties of the civil government are listed in the table of duties in the Small Catechism. There we read from Romans 13(:4) that the authority is “God’s minister to you for good” and that the authority in the earthly kingdom is “an avenger to execute wrath on him who does evil” (Romans 13:4). This means that it is not inherently sinful for the government to carry out the death penalty or to engage in a just war. Now, if I were to take it upon myself to seek revenge or to punish some criminal in a vigilante fashion, that would be sinful, because God hasn’t authorized me to do that or put me into the proper civil office. But when government executes a criminal worthy of such a punishment, or when it wages just war, particularly in defense against foreign aggression or threat, it does not sin, for it is acting as God’s servant, on God’s behalf, to avenge evil and to protect its people.

(Government is God’s servant.)

What is our duty toward the government? It was with a question regarding responsibility toward earthly government that the Pharisees and Herodians came to Jesus. After trying hypocritically to flatter Jesus, they asked the question, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” (v. 17) This is a subtle trap. If Jesus says, “No, it is not right to pay taxes to Caesar,” then He is guilty of treason against Rome, and the political Herodians would be the first to report Him. If Jesus says, “Yes, it is right to pay taxes to Caesar,” then He is guilty of disloyalty to Israel, and the religious leaders could use threat to turn the people against Him.

(Tricky Pharisees!)

How did Jesus answer this trick question and escape their trap? Jesus asked to be shown the money. Then Jesus said, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (v. 21).
The name of the Caesar or Emperor at Jesus’ time was Tiberias. The denarius, a coin worth a day’s wage, had a portrait of Tiberias on one side, and a picture of him seated on his throne on the other. The inscription declared Tiberias to be “Maxim Pontiff,” great ruler. Tiberias was not a particularly savory or honorable fellow, but he was the ruler. Notice that in our text Jesus doesn’t say, “Render unto Tiberias,” but rather “Render unto Caesar” (v. 21). By His words, Jesus teaches us to look to the office which He established and not so much to the person in the office. The office is God’s gift, and we are to give to this divinely established office the honor it deserves. God is the One who has established the governing authorities. They may often abuse their authority. They may not even realize that they have a divine calling. But Christians are to honor them as servants of God nonetheless. For by honoring them, we are really honoring God Himself.

(Honoring God’s servants in government is honoring God. That’s hard, in light of the recent election.)

Are we always supposed to submit to our rulers? This issue is especially troubling when Christians live under bad or oppressive rulers. Were the Christians of Germany obliged to submit to Hitler and to participate in his murderous, blasphemous schemes? Are there not unjust laws, made by evil regimes, some directly contradicting the commandments of Scripture? For example, in the early church Roman law demanded that citizens burn incense as a way to acknowledge the divinity of the Emperor. Or more recently, the law in many Islamic states forbids anyone form trying to convert a Moslem to Christianity. Christian missionaries can be subject to the death penalty for telling someone about Jesus. Should Christians not evangelize the lost in nations whose leaders forbid it?

(This is an important question.)

Is it ever right to disobey the authorities? In almost every instance a Christian should, in Peter’s words, “be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution” (I Peter 2:13). We may or may not like a particular governing official. But if God has allowed him to be established in office, then we are to honor him for God’s sake, paying our taxes and obeying whatever laws are in force, as long as they do not cause us to sin against God. In the words of the Augsburg Confession, “Christians owe obedience to their magistrates and laws except when commanded to sin. For then they owe greater obedience to God than to human beings” (AC XXVI). The confessors cited Acts 5:29. When the disciples were forbidden by law to preach the Gospel, they answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

(We are to obey, unless compelled to sin.)

“Render unto Caesar” also has special applications for those of us in the United States, who live in a democratic republic. Our governing officials are not imposed on us from above. Rather, we elect our governing officials. Ultimately, we rule them. Yet we also have a duty toward our government. As Christians and Americans citizens we are obligated to take an active part in government, obeying its laws, paying our taxes, voting, and honoring those in elected office. 1 Timothy 2 reminds also to pray for our governing officials, “ that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in godliness and reverence” (1 Tim. 2:1).

(Obey the law.)

Secondly, as those who are “Living as Citizens of the Two Kingdoms,” we also have a duty toward God. As Christians, we are citizens of God’s kingdom of grace. This kingdom was established by Jesus’ life-giving death and resurrection, which set us free from the tyrannical rule of sin, death, and the devil. In this heavenly kingdom, peace comes through Christ’s death on the cross, which reconciled us to the Father. It is not a temporary peace between people but an everlasting peace with God. Citizenship in the heavenly kingdom is not something that we earned or deserved. We became citizens of the heavenly kingdom when God brought us to faith by His Spirit working through the Word of God attached to the water of Holy Baptism.

(We are citizens of heaven first.)

How does God rule the heavenly kingdom or Church? In the Church, the Gospel holds sway. The Church is not ruled by the sword but governed by the preaching of God’s Word alone. The Church operates not by threat but by gentle invitation, not by penalties, but by the forgiveness of sins. In the words of Luther’s explanation to the third article of the Apostles’ Creed, “In this Christian Church He daily and richly forgives me and all believers all our sins; and at the last day He will raise up me and all the dead, and will grant me and all believers in Christ eternal life.”

(Kingdom of the right-hand: ruled by persuasion and the Word.)

So what did Jesus mean when He said, “Render unto God the things that are God’s” (v. 21)? What do we render to God? When it comes to settling accounts with God, you can do one of two things: either you can render to Him your own works and your own goodness, which always fall short, or you can trust in the works and the sacrifice of Christ rendered to the Father as the full and complete payment for your sins. So then, to render to God the things that are God’s is simply to rely on Christ and believe in Him. It is to point to Christ the crucified and say, “There is my salvation. He alone is the offering that wins for me everlasting life.”

(Rendering to God is trust in the Finished Work of Christ.)

How shall we render thanks to the Lord for all his benefits to us? In the words of the Psalmist (116), “I will offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and call on the name of the Lord. I will take the cup of salvation, and will call on the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord now in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the Lord’s house.” St. Augustine once wrote, “Give the money unto Caesar, thyself to God.” We give God ourselves, because He has claimed us as His own in the water and the Word.

(Money to Caesar, me to God.)

In the end we must confess that we have not given to Caesar what is Caesar’s, nor have we given to God what is God’s. We daily sin much, in the way in which we deal with God’s representatives on earth, and in our neglect of the gifts of our salvation. God in His mercy sent His Son Jesus, who came to live perfectly under both God and Caesar. He perfectly kept the Law. He recognized Pilate’s authority as God’s authority. He died under the same Caesar who was pictured on the coin that the Pharisees and Herodians brought to him. The same Jesus now reigns at the right hand of God as the risen king of kings and lord of lords, whose kingdom shall have no end. The future of the nations, the future of His church, your future rests in His hands.

(History, past and present, is His-Story.)

As those who are “Living as Citizens of the Two Kingdoms,” let us honor God in both the earthly kingdom and the heavenly kingdom. Let us show allegiance to our country and this good land He has given to us, honoring those positions of temporal authority whom He has placed over us. And let us, above all else, give allegiance to the eternal Father, to our Lord Jesus Christ and His saving Word, through which He rules His Church. Let us lift high the cross of Christ as our great flag, the banner of our salvation. For though Christ’s cross “is a stumbling block for Jews and foolishness for Gentiles,” it remains the power and wisdom of God and the only way to enter God’s eternal kingdom. Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria

via Steadfast Lutherans » Living as Citizens of Two Kingdoms: A Post Election Sermon.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams
Rossville, GA
godsguy12@comcast.net
jadams012@gmail.com
christianreasons@gmail.com
http://about.me/eric.adams
http://christianreasons.com/