Consider this story from the Daily Signal, and keep in mind that these are only the documented cases.
Freedom of religion isn’t as protected as some Americans may think. In fact, reported attacks on religion are increasing in the U.S. and, according to First Liberty Institute, the evidence is undeniable.
The 2017 edition of a First Liberty report called “Undeniable” shows threats to Americans’ First Amendment rights spanning the past five years.
The number of documented incidents of religious discrimination grew 15 percent in 2016 compared with 2015. The number of incidents increased by 133 percent, from 600 to more than 1,400, between 2011 and 2016.
“We’re in a battle right now for religious freedom in the future of our country,” First Liberty President Kelly Shackelford said in a Facebook Live video Sept. 12.
Justin Butterfield, editor-in-chief of the study, said in an interview with The Daily Signal that much of the data comes from court filings from across the country.
The research team also collects reports from news outlets and other organizations, including the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist group.
Butterfield, who has a law degree from Harvard, said researchers specifically looked for instances where someone was illegally restricted from, or prosecuted for, practicing his or her faith.
Some people like to think that gay rights are a wonderful thing, but you can’t expect people who are involved in a sin to treat those who disagree with them with respect. Sin causes people to want to coerce and silence those who disagree.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a brief Monday with the Washington Supreme Court asking it to take up the case of Barronelle Stutzman, a floral artist whom the state and the American Civil Liberties Union sued for acting consistently with her faith.
ADF filed notices of appeal in April on behalf of Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, after a lower state court ruled that she must pay penalties and attorneys’ fees for declining to use her artistic abilities to design custom floral arrangements for a long-time customer’s same-sex ceremony. Rather than participate in the ceremony, Stutzman referred the customer, whom she considers a friend and had served for nearly 10 years, to several other florists in the area who would provide high-quality arrangements and wedding support.
[…]“Government is supposed to protect freedom, not intimidate citizens into acting contrary to their faith and conscience,” added ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “The two lawsuits have the potential to financially devastate Barronelle’s business and personal assets – including taking this 70-year old grandmother’s retirement and personal savings – simply for acting in accordance with her faith. We hope the Washington Supreme Court will review this case not only because of the important legal and constitutional implications, but also because of the devastating impact the lower court’s ruling has on Barronelle.”
Barronelle just asked to not be forced to celebrate something that she didn’t believe in, and the attorney general of Washington thought that an appropriate response to her refusal to celebrate gay marriage was to take everything she owned, and block her from earning a living in the state of Washington.
It’s very important to people who are behaving immorally that they not be judged or shamed by religious people for their immoral choices. How far would social liberals go to stop religious people from judging them? Well, in America, they resort to lawsuits, censorship, coercion, vandalism and even violence. You’ll recall the attack by domestic terrorist Floyd Lee Corkins against the Family Research Council building. Corkins was, of course, a social progressive and in favor of legalizing gay marriage, and opposed to religious liberty.
This story was the topic of the most recent episode of the Reasonable Faith podcast. Basically, a conservative, apologetics-friendly church had a homosexual person who wanted to be openly gay and still be accepted as a member. After he was told by the church that he could attend the church, but not be a member, he decided to write the mainstream media to shame the church.
I want to first focus on the letter written by the gay man:
Dear Watermark Community Church,
Today I celebrate a very interesting anniversary with you. It was exactly one year ago when you told me that I was no longer worthy to serve, be in a community group, and be a member of your church.
I spent years in your church battling against my homosexuality. I believed with all my heart that God would change me; I prayed for change almost daily. But when I wasn’t able to change, you turned your back on me.
You say our “sin” is not unique, but you treat us in a unique manner; this is unacceptable behavior. We are actual people that have actual feelings.
Here we are a year later and you are still doing to others what you did to me. You are tarnishing the name of God to Christians and non-Christians alike; you should be ashamed of yourselves! Do not forget, Jesus was a angry with people just like you who said certain groups of people were not worthy to be followers of Him.
Thank you for removing yourself from my life! I am who God made me to be. I cannot change my sexual orientation and nor would I want to. I now have internal peace and happiness unlike ever before.
As Reasonable Faith notes, this is what he said and this is what the far-left Dallas Morning News reported. It sounds like the church was very mean to him, but is that what really happened?
Here is what the church actually wrote to him:
This is a difficult letter to write, as I am sure that it will be a difficult one to hear and receive. We genuinely care for you, love you, and want nothing more for you than to live an abundant life that is found in Jesus Christ alone.
However, in our attempt to shepherd you, we have recognised a destructive pattern that prohibits us in caring for you and playing the role you desire for us to have in your life (1 Peter 5:1-4; Acts 20:28). Specifically, your desire to actively participate in a same-sex relationship with another man, and your unwillingness to heed biblical counsel from your church to turn from that relationship, has made it exceedingly difficult to shepherd you during this time.
As we noted during our time together last Tuesday (9/29/15), and through the years, we have gently & repeatedly brought these patterns to your attention and, at times, you have heeded this counsel and repented. But now, this is no longer the case. So, in obedience to Matthew 18:15-18 and 1 Corinthians 5:11, we are left with no other option but to remove you from our body and treat you as we would anyone who is living out of fellowship with God…and we lovingly, but firmly, call you back to repentance. This means that you are no longer a member of our body at Watermark. We are praying that repentance comes quickly and that you do not continue choosing a path of destruction and one that leads you away from the authority and care of the church.
We recognise that these patterns are only symptoms of a heart that is either unwilling or unable to fully trust God in every area of your life, including your sexuality. We plead with you to run to the Lord and allow the Spirit of God to begin to transform your heart in a mighty way (Titus 3:3-7).
In order to help you through this time, we would like to make some tangible recommendations that we hope will serve as a catalyst for true repentance and heart-change in your life. They are:
1. Faithful attendance of Re:Generation targeting the above issue, while following counsel to not be in a dating relationship during that time.
2. Meet with a Watermark staff member who shares in the same struggle (same sex attraction) who has found freedom, healing, and victory through our Savior Jesus Christ (just let Brandon know when you’re ready to meet with him).
We affirm your many gifts, your heart of kindness, and we value the way God has uniquely formed you (Psalm 139:13-14). We all pray for your repentance and full restoration so that your gifts and passions can be fully unleashed for the Kingdom of God. We love you, Jason, and stand at the gate for you and eagerly await God’s restoration in your life (Luke 15:20).
The Elders of Watermark Community Church
Here is what one of my friends at Watermark who was aware of the situation told me:
I think it’s clear that Watermark was very kind and loving in their discipline and can’t be called hypocritical or homophobic, and they were not trying to change the man’s sexual orientation but rather simply asking him to abstain from sexual relationships. They give lots of chances before administering discipline and the process is the same each time they go through this with members. Some repent and some turn away.
As we have seen, publicizing those who disagree with homosexuality and gay marriage is a favorite tactic of the fascist left. Sometimes, it just involves smearing (e.g. – the Southern Povery Law Center). Sometimes, it involves lawfare, (e.g. – the attorney general of Washington state). Sometimes, it involves leaking the names of pro-marriage donors (e.g. – the Human Rights Campaign). Sometimes, it involves vandalism, violence and even domestic terrorism (e.g. – Floyd Lee Corkins’ attack on the Family Research Council). When it comes to homosexuality and gay marriage, fascism is the normal response to dissent.
I’m in a situation right now where I am trying to become a member of a wonderful PCA church, which I have been attending regularly for months – but never taken communion. The PCA church is a Reformed church and they believe in infant baptism.
I am a 3.9 point Calvinist, and opposed to infant baptism. Both of these challenges came up in the new members meeting (not from me, because I don’t want to do anything in their church to annoy the leaders at all). The lead pastor said that all we have to do for salvation is to trust God, he does everything. Well, as long as that trust is a genuine free will choice, then I agree with him. He also said that you don’t have to sign off on every point of Reformed theology, especially predestination. He assured us that many of the elders were former baptists, and they had good reasons for their Presbyterian view. This was a FIVE HOUR free for all discussion with the pastors and elders! Yet, I did not feel it was my place to raise public criticisms even in a home setting. Instead, I went out of my way to try to ask questions about the parts of the church that impressed me: apologetics and public debates with atheists. Going forward, I don’t intend to express my thoughts to anyone in the church, and I certainly DO NOT want to be a leader in the church. That’s what this blog is for. I didn’t start that church, I’m just there to attend and learn.
I just find it astonishing that gay activists and other radicals on the left think that they can try to bring in the mainstream media and the law to punish the church for holding to orthodox Christian moral values. But this is why we call sin “sin”. We don’t call chastity a sin, because chaste people aren’t fascists when they hear disagreement. We don’t call caring for the elderly a sin, because caring people aren’t fascists when they hear disagreement. There is something really wrong with these behaviors that the Bible forbids, and you can see what it is when you look at the totalitarian responses to mere disagreement with the sin.
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—
10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.
11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?
13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”
Everyone sins. Fine. Keep it to yourself. Don’t use the law to force Bible-believing Christians to celebrate your sins. The church’s job is to help you to be more like Christ. You’re in a community where everyone is supposed to be serious about growing as a Christian and part of that involves improving your character morally. Another part means getting along with other Christians instead of being disruptive.
Regarding complaints about not being able to act on your sexual orientation, I have no sympathy. I am attracted to women, and I am a virgin, because I am not married. I am not going to church to rebel against this requirement. My job is to structure my life in such a way that it is easier to obey it, whether that involves studying the issue in the research or drawing the line long before I have to make a decision in the heat of the moment. God must be #1 in a person’s life, setting goals and policies, and our job is to make and execute effective plans that deliver results for the Boss.
A new academic study based on the Canadian census suggests that a married mom and dad matter for children. Children of same-sex coupled households do not fare as well.
There is a new and significant piece of evidence in the social science debate about gay parenting and the unique contributions that mothers and fathers make to their children’s flourishing. A study published last week in the journal Review of the Economics of the Household—analyzing data from a very large, population-based sample—reveals that the children of gay and lesbian couples are only about 65 percent as likely to have graduated from high school as the children of married, opposite-sex couples. And gender matters, too: girls are more apt to struggle than boys, with daughters of gay parents displaying dramatically low graduation rates.
Unlike US-based studies, this one evaluates a 20 percent sample of the Canadian census, where same-sex couples have had access to all taxation and government benefits since 1997 and to marriage since 2005.
While in the US Census same-sex households have to be guessed at based on the gender and number of self-reported heads-of-household, young adults in the Canadian census were asked, “Are you the child of a male or female same-sex married or common law couple?” While study author and economist Douglas Allen noted that very many children in Canada who live with a gay or lesbian parent are actually living with a single mother—a finding consonant with that detected in the 2012 New Family Structures Study—he was able to isolate and analyze hundreds of children living with a gay or lesbian couple (either married or in a “common law” relationship akin to cohabitation).
So the study is able to compare—side by side—the young-adult children of same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples, as well as children growing up in single-parent homes and other types of households. Three key findings stood out to Allen:
children of married opposite-sex families have a high graduation rate compared to the others; children of lesbian families have a very low graduation rate compared to the others; and the other four types [common law, gay, single mother, single father] are similar to each other and lie in between the married/lesbian extremes.
Employing regression models and series of control variables, Allen concludes that the substandard performance cannot be attributed to lower school attendance or the more modest education of gay or lesbian parents. Indeed, same-sex parents were characterized by higher levels of education, and their children were more likely to be enrolled in school than even those of married, opposite-sex couples. And yet their children are notably more likely to lag in finishing their own schooling.
[…]The truly unique aspect of Allen’s study, however, may be its ability to distinguish gender-specific effects of same-sex households on children. He writes:
the particular gender mix of a same-sex household has a dramatic difference in the association with child graduation. Consider the case of girls. . . . Regardless of the controls and whether or not girls are currently living in a gay or lesbian household, the odds of graduating from high school are considerably lower than any other household type. Indeed, girls living in gay households are only 15 percent as likely to graduate compared to girls from opposite sex married homes.
Thus although the children of same-sex couples fare worse overall, the disparity is unequally shared, but is instead based on the combination of the gender of child and gender of parents. Boys fare better—that is, they’re more likely to have finished high school—in gay households than in lesbian households. For girls, the opposite is true. Thus the study undermines not only claims about “no differences” but also assertions that moms and dads are interchangeable. They’re not.
With a little digging, I found the abstract of the study:
Almost all studies of same-sex parenting have concluded there is “no difference” in a range of outcome measures for children who live in a household with same-sex parents compared to children living with married opposite-sex parents. Recently, some work based on the US census has suggested otherwise, but those studies have considerable drawbacks. Here, a 20% sample of the 2006 Canada census is used to identify self-reported children living with same-sex parents, and to examine the association of household type with children’s high school graduation rates. This large random sample allows for control of parental marital status, distinguishes between gay and lesbian families, and is large enough to evaluate differences in gender between parents and children. Children living with gay and lesbian families in 2006 were about 65 % as likely to graduate compared to children living in opposite sex marriage families. Daughters of same-sex parents do considerably worse than sons.
The author of the study is a professor of economics at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. His PhD in economics is from the University of Washington. A previous study had shown that gay relationships typically have far more instability (they last for more shorter times). That’s not good for children either. Another study featured in the Atlantic talked about how gay relationships have much higher rates of domestic violence. That’s not good for children either. So we have three reasons to think that normalizing gay relationships as “marriage” would not be good for children.
The reason I am posting this is because I want people to understand why social conservatives like me propose these laws defining and promoting marriage. We do favor natural marriage for the same reason that we oppose no-fault divorce, and for the same reason why we oppose welfare for single mothers (it encourages single motherhood). We don’t want to encourage people to deprive children of their mother or their father. We look at the research, and we decide that children need their mother and father. Given the choice between the needs of the child and restraining the freedom of the adults, we prefer the child’s need for her mother and father. It’s not just arbitrary rules, there is a reason behind the rules.
But children are not commodities. They have certain needs right out of the box. Adults should NOT be thinking about how to duct-tape a child onto any old relationship that doesn’t offer the same safety and stability that opposite sex marriage offers. We should be passing laws to strengthen marriage in order to protect children, not to weaken it. Libertarians don’t want to do that, because they want adults to be free to do as they please, at the expense of children. Libertarians think that the adults should be able to negotiate private contracts and have no obligations to any children who are present, or who may be present later.
Here are three articles by Jennifer Roback Morse posted at The Public Discourse. The articles answer the charge from social liberals and libertarians that government should “get the government out of marriage”.
Here’s the first article which talks about how government will still be involved in marriage, evenif we get rid of the traditional definition of marriage, because of the need for dispute resolution in private marriage contracts. She uses no-fault divorce as an example showing how it was sold as a way to get government out of the divorce business. But by making divorce easier by making it require no reason, it increased the number of disputes and the need for more government intervention to resolve these disputes.
Here’s the second article which talks about how the government will have to expand to resolve conflicts over decisions about who counts as a parent and who gets parental rights. With traditional marriage, identifying who the parents are is easy. But with private marriage contracts where the parties are not the biological parents, there is a need for the state to step in and assign parental rights. Again, this will require an expansion of government to resolve the disputes.
Here’s the third article which talks about how marriage is necessary in order to defend the needs and rights of the child at a time when they cannot enter into contracts and be parties to legal disputes.
The third article was my favorite, so here is an excerpt from it:
The fact of childhood dependence raises a whole series of questions. How do we get from a position of helpless dependence and complete self-centeredness, to a position of independence and respect for others? Are our views of the child somehow related to the foundations of a free society? And, to ask a question that may sound like heresy to libertarian ears: Do the needs of children place legitimate demands and limitations on the behavior of adults?
I came to the conclusion that a free society needs adults who can control themselves, and who have consciences. A free society needs people who can use their freedom, without bothering other people too much. We need to respect the rights of others, keep our promises, and restrain ourselves from taking advantage of others.
We learn to do these things inside the family, by being in a relationship with our parents. We can see this by looking at attachment- disordered children and failure-to-thrive children from orphanages and foster care. These children have their material needs met, for food, clothing, and medical care. But they are not held, or loved, or looked at. They simply do not develop properly, without mothers and fathers taking personal care of them. Some of them never develop consciences. But a child without a conscience becomes a real problem: this is exactly the type of child who does whatever he can get away with. A free society can’t handle very many people like that, and still function.
In other words I asked, “Do the needs of society place constraints on how we treat children?” But even this analysis still views the child from society’s perspective. It is about time we look at it from the child’s point of view, and ask a different kind of question. What is owed to the child?
Children are entitled to a relationship with both of their parents. They are entitled to know who they are and where they came from. Therefore children have a legitimate interest in the stability of their parents’ union, since that is ordinarily how kids have relationships with both parents. If Mom and Dad are quarreling, or if they live on opposite sides of the country, the child’s connection with one or both of them is seriously impaired.
But children cannot defend their rights themselves. Nor is it adequate to intervene after the fact, after harm already has been done. Children’s relational and identity rights must be protected proactively.
Marriage is society’s institutional structure for protecting these legitimate rights and interests of children.
I recommend taking a look at all three articles and becoming familiar with the arguments in case you have to explain why marriage matters and why we should not change it. I think it is important to read these articles and to be clear that to be a libertarian doctrine does not protect the right of a child to have a relationship with both his or her parents. Nor does libertarianism promote the idea that parents ought to stick together for their children. Libertarianism means that adults get to do what they want, and no one speaks for the kids.
The purpose of marriage is to make adults make careful commitments, and restrain their desires and feelings, so that children will have a stable environment with their biological parents nearby. We do make exceptions, but we should not celebrate exceptions and we should not subsidize exceptions. It’s not fair to children to have to grow up without a mother or father just so that adults can pursue fun and thrills.
I am tempted to say that this is the best podcast I have ever heard on the Unbelievable show. Do anything you have to do in order to listen to this podcast.
Prof Robert Gagnon has become a well-known voice advocating the traditional biblical view on sexuality. In a highly charged show he debates the scriptural issues on sexuality with Jayne Ozanne, the director of Accepting Evangelicals who came out as gay earlier this year.