Tag Archives: Coercion

East Lansing bans farmer from selling produce because he opposes gay marriage

Young people seem to like gay marriage more than they like individual liberties
Young people seem to like gay marriage more than they like individual liberties

Can basic human liberties like freedom of speech, freedom of association, and freedom of religion coexist with legalized gay marriage?

Consider this story from the Daily Signal.

Excerpt:

A farmers market and Facebook posts have opened a new front in courtroom battles over religious freedom.

It started when Steve Tennes, who owns a 120-acre farm in Charlotte, Michigan, expressed his traditional view about marriage on the farm’s Facebook page.

This drew a warning from an official more than 20 miles away in East Lansing, Michigan, that if Tennes tried to sell his fruit at the city’s farmers market, it could incite protests.

No one showed up to protest that August day last summer, though, and Tennes continued selling organic apples, peaches, cherries, and pumpkins at the seasonal market until October, as he had done the six previous years.

Nevertheless, East Lansing moved earlier this year to ban Tennes’ farm, the Country Mill, from participating in the farmers market when it resumes June 4. The city cited its human relations ordinance, an anti-discrimination law that includes sexual orientation.

So Tennes and his wife sued the city for religious discrimination.

[…]Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal aid organization, is representing the Tenneses.

You’ll recall that gay rights activists are constantly going after those who disagree with them about gay marriage. Sometimes with insults, sometimes with lawsuits, sometimes with intimidation (this case for an example), sometimes with job terminations (this case for an example), sometimes with expulsions (this case for an example), sometimes with vandalism (this case for an example) and sometimes with domestic terrorism (this case for an example).

I have adjusted to this by just assuming that anyone who votes Democrat is a potential fascist, who cannot be trusted to have a civil conversation. That’s what my alias is for – so I can discuss these issues without losing my job, like Mozille CEO Brendan Eich did, when he opposed gay marriage. It’s just safer to assume that secular leftists are incapable of rational debate. So many of them clearly are not, and no one on the secular left condemns them for it.

We’ve seen a lot of Christian business owners being sued in SOGI states, and this is really an attempt to compel agreement on gay marriage through starvation. Not just the business owners, but their families, too. Of course, gay activist Floyd Lee Corkins took that a step further when he attacked the Family Research Council building with a gun – intent on mass murder. Given their indifference to basic human rights, I wonder how many gay activists really think that what he did was wrong.

Here’s another case of fascism from earlier this week, this time reported by The Federalist.

Excerpt:

On May 6, 2017, the director of Illinois’ child welfare agency (DCFS), George Sheldon, “signed enhanced department procedures” setting “mandatory minimum standards for LGBTQ children under its authority (See Appendix K in this May 11, 2017 document. Quoted passages in this article are from Appendix K unless otherwise specified).

[…]Designed with American Civil Liberties Union assistance, the policies are problematic not only for the vulnerable children in state care but also for the kin, foster families, caseworkers, volunteers, and others trying to assist them. Consider the effects on staff and volunteers, who must pass an ideological test—to see if they are sufficiently “LGBTQ-affirming”— to mentor, serve, or care for the state’s most vulnerable children.

According to the gender guardians at DCFS, all children have a “right to self-determination of gender and sexual orientation,” and individual choices about “sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression” should be viewed as “developmental milestones, not problematic behavior.”  The role of adults is simply to “facilitate exploration of any LGBTQ matters through an affirming approach…by being open, non-judgmental, and empathic.”

Thus, when children or adolescents “explore/express a sexual orientation other than heterosexual and/or a gender identity that is different from the child/youth’s sex assigned at birth,” DCFS “staff, providers, and foster parents” must “support and respect” the child’s exploration “without any effort to direct or guide them to any specific outcome for their exploration.”

In other words, all DCFS staff and volunteers must communicate a uniform message to the children and adolescents in their care: it’s perfectly normal to identify as transgender or gender non-conforming, and just as conducive to a child’s wellbeing to be transgender as to identify with one’s actual sex.

It’s always useful to look to other countries where gay rights is further along to find out what will happen next. In previous posts, I talked about how Ontario – a province in Canada – decided to allow a convicted child pornographer design their education curriculum. Parents would not be granted an opt out of the indoctrination for any reason.

Well, Life Site News reports on the next step:

Ontario’s Kathleen Wynne Liberals have passed what critics describe as “totalitarian” Bill 89 by a vote of 63 to 23 on the last day before Queen’s Park adjourns for the summer.

[…]Bill 89, or the Supporting Children, Youth and Families Act, 2017, repeals and replaces the former Child and Family Services Act that governs child protection services, and adoption and foster care services.

It adds “gender identity” and “gender expression” as factors to be considered “in the best interests of the child.”

At the same time, it deletes the religious faith in which the parents are raising the child as a factor to be considered, and mandates child protection services consider only the child’s own “creed” or “religion” when assessing the best interests of the child.

“With the passage of Bill 89, we’ve entered an era of totalitarian power by the state, such as never witnessed before in Canada’s history,” says Jack Fonseca, senior political strategist for Campaign Life Coalition.

[…]Children’s Aid agencies now have “a type of police power to bust down your door, and seize your biological children if you are known to oppose LGBT ideology and the fraudulent theory of ‘gender identity’, if for instance, some claim is made that your child may be same-sex attracted or confused about their ‘gender,’” according to Fonseca.

“We already see similar tyranny happening in other jurisdictions, such as Norway, where the main child protection service there, Barnevernet, has been involved in numerous high profile seizures of children from traditionally-principled families,” he added.

This is what happens when you let the secular left have a majority government in your country. Would you get married and have children in a country where your children could be taken from you? I would not.

Before the rise of secularism, Americans believed in conscience

Dissent, disagreement, conscience and religious liberty
The importance of respecting the conscience of others

In the last 50 years, America exchanged religious liberty for hedonism. We used to believe that conscience was a good thing, and we respected individual differences rooted in religious convictions. But today, secular leftist politicians, lawyers and judges attack Christians using the courts. Pro-lifers, pro-marriage business owners, and people expressing Christian convictions in public have all felt what it is like to have conscience attacked by the secular leftist state.

Let’s take a look at what things were like in a different time when moral convictions had not been destroyed by secular leftism.

Consider this article in The Federalist about a new movie called “Hacksaw Ridge”.

Excerpt:

Over last weekend, I saw the new Mel Gibson flick “Hacksaw Ridge.” Gruesome and at times overshadowed by lead actor Andrew Garfield’s awkwardness, “Hacksaw Ridge” was an ode to the age-old American custom of protecting dissent by protecting the conscience.

In an age when attacks upon conscience and religious liberty grow more and more fiery, the true tale of World War II hero Desmond Doss’ conscientious objection to killing is a reminder of the difficult stakes involved in ensuring that individual liberty is the presumption that government takes toward individuals, even during war.

“Hacksaw Ridge” is the story of Doss, a Seventh Day Adventist whose religion prohibited taking the life of a fellow human being. Doss, obviously a patriot, felt obligated to serve in World War II as a medic. Where war is the business of taking life, Doss saw his role as helping save lives. That he does, as his heroism is on full display in his military record and receiving the Medal of Honor from President Truman.

The article has 6 sections.

The first one makes the point about how things have changed:

1. The Conscience Is Sacred

Doss arrived at his pacifism through religious conviction. It was an ethical precept he arrived at by religious devotion and piety, which means his pacifism was not something arbitrarily considered. Throughout the movie, the tattered Bible he carried with him everywhere he went symbolized the solemnity of his beliefs. Standing before a court martial, he was willing to go to jail for his convictions.

This is important today because so much hostility is based in rejecting religious motivation around contentious issues such as sexuality. Liberals are inclined to believe that any and all opposition to the ever-expanding lexicon of the sexual revolution is based in animus. That’s hogwash. Today’s dissenters from the sexual revolution have no use for animus. Rather, they believe the purposes of sexuality and human embodiment are different than what secular progressivism teaches.

Doss’ sincerity is a reminder that the convictions people arrive at by religious motivation are not designed to be capricious, but are ordered toward certain ends that people will naturally disagree about.

Part 3 was also good, because it explains efforts by Republicans to pass laws like the Religious Freedom Restoration Act – laws that are opposed by atheists in the Democrat party:

3. It’s Good to Accommodate People’s Consciences

When almost court-martialed for insubordination, Doss insists that his desire all along was to be a medic. This request was eventually approved. In the movie, we see the U.S. government preserve a man’s conscience by assigning him a duty that did not violate it. The U.S. government was right to accommodate Doss where accommodations can be made. In this move, it recommitted itself to an important principle at the heart of our constitutional system: The presumption of liberty.

This means it is government’s burden to prove infringing upon a person’s liberty is absolutely necessary. In Doss’ case, it was deemed unessential for him to carry a weapon, so he served in a different capacity. This is at the heart of legislation like the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which puts the burden on the government to prove its case and make every last accommodation where possible.

The problem with people on the secular left today is that they have no empathy. For them, other people have no right to disagree because it makes them feel bad – but they don’t see how jail time and fines amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars makes the victim of their legal attacks feel bad:

5. Protecting Conscience Means Developing Empathy for Others’ Convictions

As the movie’s plot develops, Doss’ fellow soldiers come to understand that his motives aren’t sinister. They realize that, when freed to live faithfully, Doss is there to help save their lives. Throughout this, and when they learn of his sincerity, his enemies-turned-friends gained a greater understanding of Doss’ convictions. They came to understand the force of his resolve, which dampens their mockery.

In one visceral scene in particular, Doss and the most intense warrior in his battalion are in a foxhole together. There, in seeing Doss’ devotion to sacrifice and conscience, his enemy-turned-friend makes lighthearted gestures recognizing that Doss’ motives are pure. In the crucible of conflict, progress occurs.

As in the case of Doss, protecting conscience doesn’t mean you will agree with the conscience you’re protecting. In fact, disagreement underscores the very need for protection. If conscience and religious liberty are simply ideas our society supports when popular, such protections are easily undone.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible talks about conscience.

1 Corinthians 4:2:

1 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.

2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.

3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself.

4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.

You can clearly see in today’s gay rights movement the problem with the government choosing to favor sinful behavior over religious liberty. People who are involved in sinful lifestyles don’t have the ability to do the right thing when it comes to respecting others. Engaging in a sinful lifestyle corrupts the ability to be respectful of the human rights of others. The desire to feel good and be approved of is seen as more important than respecting the right of others to disagree.

Who knows how far the secular left would go to punish dissenters from gay marriage? Although the media doesn’t cover it, there have been countless episodes of violence and vandalism, workplace persecution and job terminations, not to mention an armed attack by a domestic terrorist at the Family Research Council building. Because people in a sinful lifestyle don’t respect conscience rights of those who disagree. Conversely, when a person stands alone for a moral virtue (e.g. – chastity), there is no desire to compel others.

Why doesn’t God make his existence more obvious to people?

Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are going to take a look at the data
Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are going to take a look at the data

Have you ever heard someone say that if God existed, he would give us more evidence? This is called the “hiddenness of God” argument. It’s also known as the argument from “rational non-belief”.

Basically the argument is something like this:

  1. God is all powerful
  2. God is all loving
  3. God wants all people to know about him
  4. Some people don’t know about him
  5. Therefore, there is no God.

In this argument, the atheist is saying that he’s looked for God real hard and that if God were there, he should have found him by now. After all, God can do anything he wants that’s logically possible, and he wants us to know that he exists. To defeat the argument we need to find a possible explanation of why God would want to remain hidden when our eternal destination depends on our knowledge of his existence.

What reason could God have for remaining hidden?

Dr. Michael Murray, a brilliant professor of philosophy at Franklin & Marshall College, has found a reason for God to remain hidden.

His paper on divine hiddenness is here:
Coercion and the Hiddenness of God“, American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol 30, 1993.

He argues that if God reveals himself too much to people, he takes away our freedom to make morally-significant decisions, including responding to his self-revelation to us. Murray argues that God stays somewhat hidden, so that he gives people space to either 1) respond to God, or 2) avoid God so we can keep our autonomy from him. God places a higher value on people having the free will to respond to him, and if he shows too much of himself he takes away their free choice to respond to him, because once he is too overt about his existence, people will just feel obligated to belief in him in order to avoid being punished.

But believing in God just to avoid punishment is NOT what God wants for us. If it is too obvious to us that God exists and that he really will judge us, then people will respond to him and behave morally out of self-preservation. But God wants us to respond to him out of interest in him, just like we might try to get to know someone we admire. God has to dial down the immediacy of the threat of judgment, and the probability that the threat is actual. That leaves it up to us to respond to God’s veiled revelation of himself to us, in nature and in Scripture.

(Note: I think that we don’t seek God on our own, and that he must take the initiative to reach out to us and draw us to him. But I do think that we are free to resist his revelation, at which point God stops himself short of coercing our will. We are therefore responsible for our own fate).

The atheist’s argument is a logical/deductive argument. It aims to show that there is a contradiction between God’s will for us and his hiding from us. In order to derive a contradiction, God MUST NOT have any possible reason to remain hidden. If he has a reason for remaining hidden that is consistent with his goodness, then the argument will not go through.

When Murray offers a possible reason for God to remain hidden in order to allow people to freely respond to him, then the argument is defeated. God wants people to respond to him freely so that there is a genuine love relationship – not coercion by overt threat of damnation. To rescue the argument, the atheist has to be able to prove that God could provide more evidence of his existence without interfering with the free choice of his creatures to reject him.

Murray has defended the argument in works published by prestigious academic presses such as Cambridge University Press, (ISBN: 0521006104, 2001) and Routledge (ISBN: 0415380383, 2007).

Positive arguments for Christian theism

Obama administration rejects “right of conscience” complaint from pro-life groups

Barack Obama speaking to Planned Parenthood
Barack Obama speaking to Planned Parenthood

This is from the radically leftist Los Angeles Times.

They write:

Thee Obama administration on Tuesday rejected a “right of conscience” complaint from anti-abortion groups in California who objected to the state’s requirement that health insurance plans include coverage for elective abortions.

The civil rights office at the Department of Health and Human Services said it had completed an investigation and dismissed several complaints after concluding California’s policy did not violate a decade-old rule adopted by Congress, known as the Weldon Amendment.

The office said the provision, which protects doctors, nurses, hospitals and other healthcare providers who object to performing abortions, does not extend to health insurance firms that have no moral objection to providing abortion coverage and instead are acting on the request of religious-minded customers.

The decision upholds a move by the California Department of Managed Care, which notified seven insurance providers in 2014 that state law does not allow them to offer coverage that limits or excludes abortions for some employers.  The issue arose when faculty members at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and Santa Clara University objected to this limitation in their insurance plans.

So, the religious schools and institutions cannot have plans that exclude abortion, because the Obama administration does not recognize the right of religious organizations to refuse to fund abortion. But the Obama administration does recognize the obligation of pro-life taxpayers to continue to pay the salaries and benefits of their Democrat overlords. You must pay the taxes for government, you just don’t get a say in what government does.

Alliance Defending Freedom reacted to the decision so:

Lawyers for the Alliance Defending Freedom, which filed one of the complaints, denounced the HHS decision.

“The Obama administration is once again making a mockery of the law,” said Casey Mattox, senior legal counsel for the alliance. “The state of California has ordered every insurer, even those insuring churches, to cover elective abortions in blatant violation of the law. We will continue to defend churches from this clear violation of the 1st Amendment and federal law and call on Congress to hold HHS accountable.”

I know that sometimes people vote for bigger government because they want a handout taken from their neighbors. But money isn’t everything – some things are more important. Like not violating the consciences of Christians. Don’t make Christianity harder for Christians to practice.

Reporter Michelle Fields files criminal charges against Trump’s campaign manager

Trump holds up Bible he "received from his mother" to evangelicals
Trump holds up Bible he “received from his mother” to evangelicals

David French writes about it for National Review.

Excerpt: (links removed)

Yesterday, I wrote a lengthy post outlining the charges and countercharges between Breitbart’s Michelle Fields and the Donald Trump campaign. Fields claimed that Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, yanked her away from Trump when she tried to ask him a question about affirmative action, bruising her arm and almost causing her to fall. Fields tweeted a photo of the bruises, and aWashington Post reporter backed her account — as did an audio recording of the event.

The Trump campaign responded with scorched earth. Not only did it release a statement falsely claiming that no other reporter witnessed the incident, Lewandowski himself spewed forth a vile series of tweets that not only implied Fields was a fabulist, he also implied that she’d made up a sexual harassment charge in the recent past. The campaign demanded to see video evidence.

Here’s the video – the reaching for the reporter occurs at the 8-second mark:

French continues:

Slowed-down video shows Lewandowski reaching more clearly, and now Fields has filed a criminal complaint. As I said before, the Trump campaign’s behavior has been reprehensible. When faced with a credible, corroborated claim of mistreatment, a responsible campaign pledges to investigate and treats the alleged victim with respect. Instead, the campaign chose to lie and — even worse — to attempt to ruin Fields’s reputation.

This is no surprise, since Trump’s rhetoric is borderline fascistic, and this staff and supporters have obviously picked up on it and putting it into practice. In talking with Trump supporters, what I’ve found is that they are angry, low-information voters. When confronted with the facts about their candidate, they resort to name calling, coercion and even violence.

One of my best friends was confronting a “Christian” supporter of Trump recently. The Trump supporter paralleled Trump with Jesus. My friend spoke up and listed out some of Trump’s immoral behavior, e.g. – adultery, frivolous divorce, abortion, strip clubs, casinos. She linked to evidence for all of these things. The Trump supporter responded by literally threatening her with damnation. He literally said “You are a liar. God damn you.” The person who this happened to can comment if she likes, I know she’s a reader of the blog.

Now some of the people who comment here don’t strike me as that crazy, but this is what I am seeing from Trump supporters in social media. He’s probably the most immoral candidate to run as a Republican, and yet his supporters will do anything to protect him.

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