An Engine of Conflict

As Mark Earley and I have discussed this week on “BreakPoint,” we often take freedom of religion for granted in this country. While Christians in the United States don’t face torture and death because of our faith, we do face very real threats to our religious liberty, and we would be fools to ignore them. Take for example just one headline issue this election season: same-sex “marriage.” As Anthony Picarello of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has said, same-sex “marriage” in this country is “an engine for religious conflict.” He explains that rewriting the definition of marriage does not just change one law, it changes everything. The legal term marriage permeates every sphere of law: taxes, education, and employment. These laws in turn regulate religious institutions and para-church organizations like schools, hospitals, orphanages, and Prison Fellowship. There are a variety of cases that already point to this reality. In Massachusetts, where same-sex “marriage” is the law of the land, Catholic Charities announced that it would no longer serve as an adoption agency. Why not? Because by Massachusetts law, organizations that place children for adoption must have a state license. And organizations with state licenses may not discriminate against same-sex couples. So Catholic Charities had to choose: Either obey the law and violate the teachings of the Catholic Church, or get out of the adoption business altogether. It wisely chose the latter. There are other troublesome legal issues concerning homosexuality besides same-sex “marriage.” In California, Governor Schwarzenegger signed a bill into law that makes it illegal for any non-profit organization receiving state funds to portray homosexual or bisexual practices in a negative light—so much for preaching from the pulpit about homosexuality being a sin. In another case in California, a private Christian school expelled two girls for announcing they were in a lesbian relationship. Can the state call this discrimination and demand that the school violate its own moral convictions of right and wrong? Thirty years ago, we would have called that impossible. Today, it’s up for grabs. Religious colleges might also be forced to extend married housing to same-sex couples, as was the case in a recent court decision involving a Jewish university in New York. Employees who voice dissent over practices that promote the homosexual lifestyle might risk censure or loss of employment, as did a 63-year-old Muslim employee of William Paterson University in New Jersey. He called homosexuality “a perversion.” And even in cases where the government can’t compel faith-based groups to affirm homosexuality, it can punish defiant organizations by banning them from using public facilities. A judge in San Diego just ruled against the Boy Scouts of America on this very point, because it refused to allow homosexual scout leaders. Like it or not, the questions surrounding same-sex “marriage” and special rights for homosexuals are going to force us to deal with religious freedom issues—even what we can preach about from the pulpit. That’s why we must ask our candidates this fall where they stand on these issues and let them know what matters to us before the engine picks up more speed.  
For Further Reading and Information
Today’s BreakPoint offer: Call 1-877-322-5527 to request BreakPoint’s “Your Vote Counts” fact sheet, or download it here. This fact sheet includes reasons why Christians should vote and information on how to vote and where to learn about the issues. BreakPoint Commentary No. 061016, “Save Us from the Time of Trial: Religious Persecution.” BreakPoint Commentary No. 061017, “Entering the Debate: The Elections and Religious Freedom.” BreakPoint Commentary No. 061018, “Religious Freedom: The Home Front.” Anne Morse, “Stupid Is as Stupid Does” The Point, 17 October 2006. Learn more about the marriage debate. Maggie Gallagher, “Whom Should Adoption Serve?” BreakPoint WorldView, June 2006. Pete Winn, “Dr. Dobson Calls for Defeat of Pro-Gay California Bills,” CitizenLink, 16 August 2006. Visit Campaign for Children and Families for more information on the bill Gov. Schwarzenegger signed. Gudrun Schultz, “California Supreme Court Allows Lesbian to Sue Christian School over Expulsion,” LifeSite News, 30 June 2006. Richard Mills, “No Marriage, No Housing,” Daily Californian, 24 April 2001. “Victory for Free Speech and Religious Liberty at William Paterson University,” The FIRE press release, 7 December 2005. To learn more about voting, visit Redeem the Vote.


Chuck Colson



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