Thursday, January 10, 2013

This Is What the Government Wants from Christians in the U.S.

Pastor Louie Giglio, founder of the Passion conferences, was invited to pray at the Inauguration of President Obama because of his sincere and compassionate dedication to ending sex slavery and human trafficking (, something the President also supports. Now the White House has decided it doesn't want him because he has religious beliefs grounded in the Christian Scriptures that offend homosexual activists. Essentially, activists dug up a sermon he preached 15-20 years ago in which he states plainly what the Bible says about homosexual behavior: the Scriptures call it a sin, and like any other sin it needs to be resisted and turned away from. He also said that change can be very difficult, but it is possible, as it is for all of us who are willing to seek God's help to turn away from sin. The Obama Administration has reacted by indicating that Pastor Giglio's words "don't reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country", and Giglio has withdrawn, which one presumes he was asked to do.

Dr. Russell Moore brilliantly captured in this post the nature of what's going on here and why it should be considered disturbing. Some citizens don't agree with Giglio's religious beliefs, but the government itself is supposed to be neutral as to what its citizens believe. The very bedrock of the Bill of Rights is freedom of speech and freedom of religious belief, and the Constitution itself forbids any religious test for public office. These principles were established by men who had seen what it was like to live under a government that favored people of one religion (the Church of England) and disfavored those of any other religion. The new republic, committed to democracy and freedom, was founded with a firm commitment to prevent a man from having his government be against him regarding his religious beliefs. The Founders agreed that matters of religious belief were so important to a person's conscience and freedom that it was a grave evil to coerce someone to abandon or change his beliefs under pressure from the government.

It should deeply disturb all of us that the elected government of the United States now applies a political litmus test to decide whether a pastor can pray at a public event. Essentially, for the millions of Christians in the United States who are convinced of the truth of the Bible and submit to what it states about homosexual behavior, our government has indicated that we aren't welcome to participate publicly in events of national significance. The government has decided that only views which legitimize homosexual behavior are acceptable.

This has become so pervasive in our government now that this move isn't really a surprise. It's just proof of how far we have abandoned the value of freedom of religious belief and practice. A person who has to suffer loss of public participation or loss of access to elected office unless he discards his religious convictions is not really "free" to believe as his mind and heart dictate - certainly not in the way those who fought and labored to establish a free republic intended. They intended that a person be able to live by whatever beliefs he is most convinced are true and good, without being subject to the pressure and coercion of losing significant access to participation in the democratic process of government if he believes one thing instead of another. We need to be honest as a nation about the fact that many people influencing our government don't want to have that kind of republic anymore, and we need to consider what kind of country that is changing the United States into.