In the public policy arena, the past few decades have seen a constant conflict between Christian conservatives and secular liberals. These two factions have sparred openly over a variety of issues, including abortion, the definition of marriage, the importance of the family, and the size of government. Recently, however, secular liberals have adopted a new tactic. Rather than continue our public debates, some secular liberals have decided to take a different route — attacking the very foundations of Christian institutions. In this assault, they have been aided and abetted by the current administration.
It seems secular liberals have decided that certain religious freedoms are no longer going to be free. Moving forward, the exercise of those freedoms is going to cost you. As Rick Plasterer explains at The Institute on Religion and Democracy's blog, Juicy Ecumenism, certain long-held Christian beliefs may soon result in the deprivation of Christian institutions' tax exempt status, state aid, or accreditation. Religious institutions like colleges and hospitals are particularly susceptible, as Plasterer explains:
"Although threats do exist to the primary religious institutions — houses of worship — it is those that provide social services as a religious activity, namely religiously affiliated schools, hospitals, and charities that are most directly threatened. These have been a refuge for Christians, or other believers, from the secularization of the twentieth, and now twenty-first, centuries. Service to the poor and suffering and the education of the young are both Biblical commands, and thus, in the American rights-oriented context, should be understood as an exercise of religion. Heretofore our legal system has permitted religious education and social service without seriously impinging on their religious character. Now we may be seeing the beginning of the end of educational and social services that are in any serious way religious rather than secular."
If this destructive tactic succeeds, you can bet the noose will continue to tighten as one religious belief after another is deemed unacceptable by secular liberals. Right now, religious beliefs that homosexual activity is wrong or certain forms of contraception are sinful have transgressed the secular liberal "tolerance line." In the future, that line will move closer and closer to the heart of Christian belief. How many times have we already heard that "Christians can practice whatever faith they choose in their own homes and churches"? Secular liberalism will not accept moral principles rooted in faith in the public square. Secularists cannot accept the freedom of individuals to make their own moral choices based on their consciences. For the secular liberal, one's religious faith can only be tolerated only if it has no impact on any other person (and preferably is never seen in public at all).
The secular left raises high the banner of diversity, but that's clearly contradicted by their recent actions. Our federal Executive Branch happily throws its weight around at religious institutions on matters of conscience. Don't want to pay for your employee's birth control? Tough — we'll find a way to make it happen anyway. Don't want to promote an active homosexual lifestyle? Maybe we'll use employment nondiscrimination rules to force your religious institutions to accept practicing homosexuals regardless of your core beliefs. To the secular left, if it's "good public policy," they can just ignore the religious objectors in the corner.
These executive branch steps are relatively public, but what's going on behind the scenes? Consider the IRS scandal from last year (with new developments every week). Lois Lerner and her minions apparently singled out numerous Christian conservative organizations for extra scrutiny based on their ideological positions. Conservative Christian organizations had a more difficult time getting tax exempt status because their beliefs ran afoul of the secular liberal bureaucrats. Prejudiced bureaucrats have been discriminating against conservative Christian organizations, threatening their very existence.
Want a glimpse into the future? Take a look at Canada. As Plasterer explains: "[Trinity Western University] and other Christian institutions in Canada have been under pressure in recent years from educational and professional associations and from the general public, because of their orthodox Christian faith commitments (held to violate 'academic freedom' and social conservatism (held to violate 'gay rights')." These schools have prevailed in court so far, but for how much longer? Trinity Western University is currently being attacked from many sides for its opposition to homosexuality.
Ironically, it was Christians who originally worked to establish religious freedom in our country. Now the secular left is targeting Christians in the name of "diversity." However, this "diversity" doesn't hold a candle to classic American religious freedom. This "diversity" is best defined as "the freedom to believe whatever you want — as long as you don't believe anything is wrong or true."
It is essential that Christian conservatives push back against secular discrimination on every level. To be silent in our beliefs now is to ensure that those beliefs will soon be excluded from the public square.
Christians must engage our culture, presenting our beliefs firmly and boldly, demanding that religious freedom for all be protected throughout society. We must do this at every level of our social and governmental institutions, or else a secular tide will soon sweep away our religious liberties and turn the very institutions that have always protected religious freedom against their religious supporters.