Tag Archives: Conscience Protection

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.

Kentucky bans pastor from prison ministry because he disagrees with homosexuality

Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign
Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign

Yes, in Kentucky.

The Stream has the story.

Excerpt:

Like Christian ministers across the confessional spectrum, David Wells takes seriously the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: “I was in prison and you did not visit me.” Minister of evangelism of Pleasant View Baptist Church in McQuady, Kentucky, he has been visiting and mentoring juveniles in the Warren County Regional Juvenile Detention Center for 12 years.

Not any more. On July 7th, the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) revoked his volunteer credentials and permanently barred him from visiting, counseling or leading worship services for juveniles. He was found in violation of a newly revised departmental policy on “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” because he could not sign a state-mandated statement that he would not use the word “sinful” when talking about homosexuality. The policy states that volunteers:

shall not refer to juveniles by using derogatory language in a manner that conveys bias towards or hatred of the LGBTQI community. DJJ staff, volunteers, interns, and contractors shall not imply or tell LGBTQI juveniles that they are abnormal, deviant, sinful, or that they can or should change their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The acronym “LGBTQI” stands for “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, and Intersexed.”

I recommend reading the articles to get the details on the inmates, so that you see what they are in for, what their real problems are, and what it is that the pastor talks to them about.

But I want to skip to the end, which is about the conflict between the gay agenda (don’t offend me by saying that what I am doing is wrong, because it makes me feel bad) with the Constitutional right of religious liberty.

More:

The issue really isn’t the way Wells speaks to the juveniles he ministers to. The issue is what he says. In effect, the DJJ wants to remove the Bible from his hands. The policy equates the teaching of Biblical morality with derogatory and hateful speech.

Removing the Bible from a pastor’s hands is like taking a scalpel from the hands of a surgeon. The policy effectively deletes passages such as Romans 1:24-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, and 1 Tim 1:10 from the New Testament. The words of Scripture are the gifts a pastor has to offer. He’s not there just to counsel the young people. He’s there to tell them the good news of Jesus Christ. That’s not hate speech, it’s love speech.

Wells is represented by Liberty Counsel. In a letter to the commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice, Liberty Counsel explained that the new policy creates an unconstitutional religious test for access to the DJJ. The First Amendment prohibits the government from discriminating on the basis of viewpoint. This detention center may not prohibit the expression of biblical morality because DJJ policymakers object to the Bible.

That’s what the American Constitution says, but the authorities in other states and in federal and military prisons have begun imposing similar restrictions on religious speech. This may become one more aftershock of the Obergefell v Hodges decision. The homosexual equivalency movement wants to insert homosexual activity into the category of a protected class under State and Federal law in order to use the police power of the State against those who disagree with them. It’s one more example of a growing soft persecution underway in the United States.

I have been saying for some time that Christians have been really missing the boat by focusing on charity without theology. We are interested in being nice so we can be liked. We are not interested in telling the truth, so that we can be faithful. We spend all our money feeding hungry people and helping the poor and so on, and nothing is going to defend religious liberty – the freedom to actually treat what the Bible about God as real and serious – in public. Maybe instead of doing nice things, we can try to focus more on doing good things. We can start by not voting for secularists who charm us with their desire solve the world’s problems by redistributing wealth, and instead vote for people who promise to protect our religious liberty and our freedom of conscience. No more giving money to World Vision and the Boy Scouts of America and Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. We have other things to think about now.

UK Tory MP: use anti-terrorism laws against Christians who say gay marriage is wrong

Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign
Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign

This article appeared in the far left UK Telegraph. (H/T Dina)

It says:

New banning orders intended to clamp down on hate preachers and terrorist propagandists should be used against Christian teachers who teach children that gay marriage is “wrong”, a Tory MP has argued.

Mark Spencer called for those who use their position in the classroom to teach traditionalist views on marriage to be subject to “Extremism Disruption Orders” (EDOs), tough new restrictions planned by David Cameron and Theresa May to curb radicalisation by jihadists.

In a letter to a constituent, Mr Spencer, the MP for Sherwood in Nottinghamshire, insisted that Christian teachers were still “perfectly entitled” to express their views on same-sex marriage – but only “in some situations”.

Christian campaigners said Mr Spencer’s remarks confirmed what they had previously warned: that those who believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman would now be “branded extremists”.

[…]Ministers have signalled that the orders, expected to be a key plank of the Government planned new Counter-Extremism Bill, would be used not only curb the activities of radical Islamist clerics but those who promote other views deemed to go against “British values”.

According to the MP’s letter, the anti-terrorism laws would be used whenever teachers taught children that redefining marriage was wrong. This is the view of every Bible-believing Christian, by the way. Defending the standard definition of marriage is now the equivalent of advocating for Jihad, in British schools.

I did a quick search to see what really is going on in the UK with freedom of conscience, free speech, and so on, and I found this story:

A Christian registrar who claimed religious discrimination has today been denied an appeal by the European Court of Human Rights, in a move described as a “sad day for liberty of conscience”.

Lillian Ladele was claiming religious discrimination after being forced out of her Islington Council job over her conscientious objection to same-sex civil partnerships.

She was seeking to appeal to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights after losing a 5-2 majority decision in January.

Two other Christians, Shirley Chaplin and Gary McFarlane, also had their applications for appeal turned down.

It’s a good idea, when deciding who to vote for, to look at other countries to see where the policies being put forward today have led. One policy that led to a terrible place, especially for men and children, was no-fault divorce. Today, we have same-sex marriage, which denies children access to their biological mother or father, or both, and makes relationships about the needs of selfish adults, instead about the needs of children. And in the UK, speaking against this second redefinition of marriage is now a crime.

Alliance Defending Freedom wins HHS mandate case: Democrats forced to pay $570,000

Life News has some good news for us.

They write:

The bill is coming due, literally, for the Obama administration over its attempts to force companies to comply with the HHS mandate, that compels them to pay for drugs for their employees that can cause abortions.

The pro-life legal group ADF obtained a settlement in federal court Friday that requires the Obama administration to pay an agreed-upon amount of $570,000 to ADF and allied attorneys who won a lawsuit at the U.S. Supreme Court against the abortion-pill mandate in Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Burwell. 

Conestoga Wood is one of the companies that challenged the abortion mandate in court and the high court eventually sided with them and Hobby Lobby, the most prominent firm taking on the Obama mandate.

“The government does a serious disservice to taxpayers when it pursues unjust laws that force many of them to defend their constitutionally protected freedoms,” Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman told LifeNews.com. “While this case is finally over, many others remain. We hope the administration will stop defending its indefensible abortion-pill mandate and end its waste of taxpayer dollars on a fruitless quest to force people to give up their freedom to live and work according to their beliefs.”

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent Conestoga Wood Specialties and the Hahn family, Mennonite cabinetmakers in Pennsylvania who appealed to the nation’s high court after a divided federal appellate court ruled against them. The Supreme Court eventually sided with the company.

“The cost of religious freedom for the Hahn family and many other job creators across the country who face this mandate is severe,” added Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “A family should not face massive fines and lawsuits just because they want to earn a living consistent with their faith.”

The mandate could have cost the family nearly $3 million per month in fines if it doesn’t agree to live contrary to its Christian convictions. It forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy penalties by the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies if the mandate’s requirements aren’t met.

Conestoga Wood Specialties owners Norman Hahn, Elizabeth Hahn, Norman Lemar Hahn, Anthony H. Hahn, and Kevin Hahn desire to run their company, a wholesale manufacturer of custom wood cabinet parts, in a manner that reflects their Christian beliefs, including their belief that God requires respect for the sanctity of human life.

I try not to think about whose money this is… in a fair world, it would come right out of Obama’s bank accounts.

I took a quick look to see if there were any ADF podcasts on this case, and I didn’t find any.

How the ADF kept nurses who wouldn’t perform abortions from being fired

In 2011, a story came out about New Jersey nurses being forced to perform abortions (or be fired). I blogged about it, but we didn’t really know the details. Well, now the details have emerged and the case has finally been decided. Here’s a press release from the heroic Alliance Defending Freedom, which protected the nurses involved from violating their consciences.

Excerpt:

Promoted from that team to a supervisory position over all the nurses, the new assistant manager announced that – since she and others had to help with abortions – she saw no reason why every nurse shouldn’t help. Hospital officials agreed, and passed a new, mandatory policy to make it so. The assistant manager quickly set up a training program that would give each nurse on the unit hands-on experience in how to assist with and clean up after abortions.

“As long as you work here,” she told the 12 nurses who openly protested, “you’re going to have to do it. If you don’t, you’re going to be fired or transferred out.”

“We were all shocked,” Fe says. “All these years I’ve been a nurse, I was never told to help kill children.”

But the managers remained adamant. Hospital administrators supported them.

[…]”Our jobs were hanging by a string,” Beryl says. “We were like, ‘All right. If they’re going to fire all 12 of us, fine. But this is against what we believe God wants us to do.’ We didn’t come into this profession to do [abortions]. We told them we weren’t comfortable with it and didn’t feel they should force us. And if that meant our jobs, well… God was going to provide.”

When even their own union declined to help them, Fe wrote a letter to hospital officials saying that she and her coworkers would not participate in abortions. She passed it around for the other nurses; 15 signed it. She gave the letter to her manager, who took it to the director of nursing.. Response was swift. A meeting was called for the next day, with each of the signing nurses, the labor board, a union official, the managers, and “an expert on ethics” scheduled to be on hand.

I think so often in this world today, Christians are on the defensive when it comes to acting on their convictions. My expectation is that we will never win when we do the right thing. The other side is so strong, and we have so few conservative Christians who are intentional about studying well, earning well, and reaching positions of influence. But sometimes we do win, because there are still some Christians left who have paid the price to get the education and training that allows them to do something when the freedoms of Christians are threatened.

This time, it was the Alliance Defending Freedom lawyers who saved the day:

The day of that announcement, Pastor Terry Smith, of Life Christian Church in West Orange, New Jersey, returned from a trip. A staff member told him that one of his parishioners – Fe – had called, shared what was happening at the hospital, and asked for advice. The pastor immediately phoned Len Deo, president of the New Jersey Family Policy Council.

“I’ll be all over this,” said Deo, who hung up and called Alliance Defending Freedom. Shortly afterward, staff attorney Matt Bowman was on the phone with a local allied attorney, Demetrios Stratis, enlisting him to help defend the nurses. The two immediately called Fe.

[…]Amid all the tension, threats, and growing media coverage, the judge in the case stunned everyone by suddenly announcing, in a preliminary hearing, that a settlement had been reached.

“We had gotten everything [the 12 nurses] requested,” Stratis says. “We’d gotten the hospital to agree not to force them to perform these abortions. There would be no retaliatory measures against them, and they could feel free and sleep at night, knowing that the next day they would not have to be trained on the abortion process or help a woman kill an innocent child.”

“I was crying – really crying,” says Lorna, who heard the news from one of the other nurses. “And very thankful. The next day, I went to work, and all of us were hugging and very happy.”

“Before, I used to think that some prayers won’t be answered,” Fe says. “Sometimes, I’d feel very hopeless. But with this case, I saw how the Lord moves… providing the resources, the people who would help us out. It just strengthened my faith. I really thank God for Alliance Defending Freedom.”

Where does this desire to force people to commit murder come from? Well, it comes from the political left. In fact, the Obama administration actively opposes conscience protections for medical workers, and actively opposes conscience protections for military chaplains. This is to say nothing about the HHS mandate, which forces entire organizations and businesses to subsidize abortion-causing drugs.

I think that Christians need to be thoughtful, calculating and realistic about how we are going to deal with threats like this. Although some of us may prefer to study things that are easier, and do jobs that are comfortable, there is a real need for more of us to study hard things and do hard jobs. We need people with the right degrees in the right fields, and we need people who are good at earning and saving money. The truth is that this is the way the world works, and wisdom requires that we do what we have to do (not what we like to do) in order to be ready for the the challenges we are likely to face. The other side is certainly doing their job of getting the degrees and the money that they will use against us.