Christians in government: Stay or go?

Religious Liberty
by La Shawn Barber

Posted on Wednesday, September 9, 2015, at 2:31 pm

Earlier this year, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a law that allows county magistrates in the state to opt-out of officiating same-sex marriages and other employees from issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, said he’d veto the bill:

“I recognize that for many North Carolinians, including myself, opinions on same-sex marriage come from sincerely held religious beliefs that marriage is between a man and a woman. However, we are a nation and a state of laws. Whether it is the president, governor, mayor, a law enforcement officer, or magistrate, no public official who voluntarily swears to support and defend the Constitution and to discharge all duties of their office should be exempt from upholding that oath; therefore, I will veto Senate Bill 2.”

The governor stood by what he wrote and vetoed the bill. Fortunately, the veto-proof legislature overrode it. The Charlotte Observer recently reported that, so far, 32 magistrates in the state have taken advantage of the law’s protection. They’ve opted not to officiate certain unions on religious grounds. The reporter who filed this story referred to this protection law as “controversial.” The idea of two men calling themselves married apparently is not.

At least some government employees who are Christians can count on their elected officials to protect their First Amendment religious freedom rights. North Carolina state Sen. Buck Newton, a Republican who co-sponsored the bill, said, “I will not stand idly by and watch the demands of a few insist that a magistrate perform a wedding that he or she strongly believes to be immoral.” State Sen. Ben Clark, a black Democrat who supported the protection law, said he knows “discrimination when I see it. This is not discrimination.”

It’s come to this. Now that homosexuals and men pretending to be women are some kind of protected government class, Christians will face more scrutiny. Should Christians remain in their government jobs and assert their First Amendment religious freedom rights or resign?

There’s no right or wrong answer, in my view. I commend Christians like Rowan County, Ky., clerk Kim Davis who stay and fight. This country was created on the concept of religious liberty, and the Founders codified this right in the U.S. Constitution. A law that mandates Christians to deny their faith and their conscience violates a fundamental founding principle. Christians who remain in government jobs, now that the U.S. Supreme Court redefined marriage (and will again), can encourage others to remain steadfast.

On the other hand, I understand those who don’t want the stress. A tiny percent of the U.S. population has managed to gain this much power, backed by force of the government. I can’t imagine the strain of seeing my business on the brink of bankruptcy because I refused to call sin, any sin, good. And think about the pressure you’d feel if your employer received daily calls to fire you because you openly oppose the mainstreaming of homosexuality.

Whether Christians in government jobs stay or go, none should ever stop calling sin sin.

La Shawn Barber

La Shawn writes about culture, faith, and politics. Her work has appeared in the Christian Research Journal, Christianity Today, the Washington Examiner, and other publications

Read more from this writer