Gut-Check Time On Religious Freedom

Mark Davis
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Posted: Apr 03, 2015 12:01 AM
Gut-Check Time On Religious Freedom

Funny thing. I don’t know a single liberal who is looking hard in the mirror saying, “Dang, I need to back off of my willingness to trample the sensibilities of Bible-believing Christians.”

And yet, among the ranks expected (and in some cases, elected) to uphold religious rights, a collapse is under way from city halls to Governor’s mansions. For a couple of days, some leaders were bold enough to back legislation that would thwart the modern fad of smearing faith-based business policies as bigotry.

But upon feeling the sting of media scolding, and sensing the public releasing its grip on such values, spines are softening and the flags of surrender are waving.

And why not? For years, conservatives have been told to shut up about those pesky social issues— stick to Obamacare and spending and if something blows up somewhere, maybe fighting global terror. But those uphill battles of protecting the unborn, fending off an even more stoned America, upholding the special nature of man-woman marriage— how does the warning go? “Those aren’t winners.”

So how is our silence working out for everybody? We are in the fifth decade of open season on the unborn, states barely blink at legalizing more intoxicants, and a battle for gay rights has morphed into an assault on anyone refusing to yield under the jackboots of forced unanimity.

Remember that we are no longer talking about conservatives sticking up for heterosexual marriage. It is now all we can do to stick up for those who dare to do so within the constitutionally protected realm of their business practices.

The left, so fond of falsely accusing others of forcing views on them, now demonstrably coerces its will on the tiny handful of wedding service providers who would rather not participate in ceremonies antithetical to their sincerely held beliefs.

If a full-throated debate were staging in the wings, it could be an energizing opportunity to settle in for another in the continuing series of battles over basic rights. Conservatives have seemed more energetic of late in resisting the oppressions of Obamacare, the suffocation of current spending levels, even the evils of global jihad.

But the armies of false equality are winning, because opponents are backing down. Is it fear of being labeled homophobic? Is it fear of being on “the wrong side of history?” Is it fear of losing the next election?

Whatever the source of fear, it must be overcome, replaced with a concern that is genuine: the fate that awaits us when these hooligans complete their raid on religious freedoms.

It is important to note that the vast majority of these stormtroopers are not gay. Most of the gay folks I know are conservative, so I am not surprised to find them willing to actually allow the occasional wedding-based business to follow its conscience. But they tell me that the average gay American does not lie awake at night longing for bake shops and photographers to be dragged into occasions they are not enthused about.

The most numerous culprits here are thoroughly straight liberals who smell blood in the water, the blood of a wounded Biblical ethos in a fallen nation. The scent enthralls them as they move toward the ultimate goal, far beyond defeating traditional values at the ballot box or in polls. The destination will be reached when scriptural views are not just rare, but criminalized.

Critics of religious freedom statutes have noticed a selective attention to gay issues. “I do not notice these bakers and photographers balking at weddings between people married for the fourth time,” one told me.

This is actually a worthy point. Here’s a worthy reply: if they did, I would support them. An objection rooted in Judeo-Christian scripture deserves to be respected, as do objections based in the holy teachings of other faiths.

No Muslim or Kosher butcher should be forced to provide pork for my Texas barbecue. I could not envision clamoring for “meat equality,” scolding such businesses as “pork-haters.”

Debate is a wonderful sound. The political back-and-forth over how much to spend, what to do about borders and how (or whether) to fight terrorism, features all sides coming into the arena with differing views born of varying perspectives and experience.

But the hysterical attack on religious freedom statutes is an execrable campaign of lies, from the supposition of a bigoted motive to the denial of a first amendment right to establish business policies based on faith.

That is troubling enough. It becomes profoundly sad when, faced with such a campaign of dishonesty and slander, defenders of liberty slink away because fighting is too hard, the opposition too loud, or the effort too momentarily unpopular.

It is tempting but a bit glib to refer to these oppressors as something like “equality Nazis.” Better to recall the era of the real Nazis, when German theologian Martin Niemöller issued a warning against apathy that has been famously distilled into the following timeless verse: 

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Trade Unionist. 

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Jew. 

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Do not let anyone tell you this fight is too hard or too costly. If bullies call it hate, fight back with truth. If polls do not smile on the effort, persist with an upbeat spirit. If analysts fret that we may lose voters because of the current blow of the wind, remember that if we cave on basic rights, we don’t deserve votes from anyone.