Pushing back against religious liberty threats
Religious Liberty | Secularists try to intimidate and take away First Amendment freedoms
by La Shawn Barber
Posted on Wednesday, October 26, 2016, at 4:38 pm
Pastors shouldn’t be intimidated by complaining secularists, and they shouldn’t be silent when groups try to suppress their First Amendment rights. That’s Liberty Counsel’s response to a letter from Americans United for Separation of Church and State to pastors threatening to report them for violating tax law.
The letter from Barry Lynn, a United Church of Christ minister and executive director of Americans United, reads in part:
“You should be aware that some national organizations have been urging religious leaders to engage in problematic activities. For example, you may be asked to distribute ‘voter guides’ during services or to make them available to your congregants. I urge you to be very wary of such overtures.”
Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said:
“[N]o church has ever lost its tax-exempt status for either endorsing or opposing any political candidate or endorsing or opposing a local, state or federal law. Pastors should not allow secularists like Lynn to intimidate them. Church leaders and pastors may speak on biblical and moral issues. They can educate about the candidates’ viewpoints. They can encourage people to vote and can even assist them in getting to the polls.”
Whether pastors should endorse political candidates from the pulpit is debatable in light of the tax-exempt status of churches and the need for pastors to be ministers of the gospel first and foremost instead of political pundits. But the presidential election will be over soon, and no matter who ends up in the White House, freedom of religion and speech are at stake for pastors and their congregations.
For now, Christian parents who want their children to receive religious instruction in schools and oppose homosexual indoctrination still have the option to send them to private schools or homeschool them. One day, the government might take away those two options. Stranger things have happened, as we see from the Obama administration’s “guidelines” to tax-funded schools to allow boys who “feel” like girls to use girls’ restrooms, locker rooms, and other private facilities.
When Peter confessed that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Christ said His Father in Heaven revealed His identity to Peter, adding: “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Those who hate the living God might prevail against us here on earth, where the people in power force Christians either to provide services for ceremonies that profane marriage or lose their businesses. These secularists might get around to declaring the gospel “hate speech.” But we know Satan is a defeated foe. Our work on earth is to testify to God’s building of His kingdom day by day, and as Americans we should fight to protect our right to do so without fear of bankruptcy, loss of business, imprisonment, or death.
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