Warning that the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision puts religious freedom “absolutely, unquestionably and unequivocally” at risk, former Southern Baptist Convention political official Richard Land said today that the decision could even land pastors in jail for refusing to perform same-sex marriages.
“Unless we have a spiritual awakening in America, the battle for traditional marriage is over and the battle for religious freedom has begun,” Land told Newsmax’s J.D. Hayworth.
“I know it’s difficult for liberals to understand this, but we have convictions,” he said. “And convictions can’t be coerced and they can’t be intimidated and they can’t be threatened. We’re going to speak the truth in love. Just because five lawyers say same-sex marriage is legal, that doesn’t make it moral and that doesn’t make it right.”
When Hayworth asked him if the Supreme Court’s decision means pastors could end up in jail for refusing to perform marriages for gay and lesbian couples, Land responded that “it could” after a few “intermediate steps.”
Of course, in the dozens of states that allowed gay and lesbian couples to marry before last week’s decision, not one pastor has been thrown into jail for refusing to perform such a marriage, just as nearly 50 years after the Supreme Court struck down interracial marriage bans, clergy are still free to refuse to perform such marriages. Even some of Land’s fellow Southern Baptist leaders have denied the possibility that pastors will be sent to jail for refusing to perform gay couple’s weddings.
The mood was apparently apoplectic at a press conference held by gay-rights opponents in front of the Alabama state judicial building yesterday, as one Republican state official called the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision “an assault on God, on Christian heritage and on our culture” and warned that the “runaway judiciary is a bigger threat to the United States than ISIS” and “liberal judges have done [more] harm to our country and our Constitution than Al Qaeda.”
Public Service Commissioner Chip Beeker, who made the ISIS remarks, was joined by Joe Godfrey of the Alabama Citizens Action Project, who warned that Christians will soon be fired from their jobs just for attending church and by John Eidsmoe, the influential Christian Reconstructionist thinker and Michele Bachmann mentor, who said that the Supreme Court’s decision is moot because two justices who had performed legal same-sex weddings should have recused themselves.
Public Service Commissioner Chip Beeker told the crowd that "five unelected and unaccountable justices imposed their will on the people of Alabama and the United States."
"This was not an interpretation of the Constitution. It was an assault on God, on Christian heritage and on our culture," Beeker said.
"The runaway judiciary is a bigger threat to the United States than Isis. Liberal judges have done harm to our country and our constitution than Al Qaeda."
Joe Godfrey, executive director of the Alabama Citizens Action Program, which lobbies the Legislature on behalf of churches, said people who attend churches that oppose same-sex marriage could be threatened with losing their jobs.
"I predict it's going to happen when big corporations, CEOs, tell people that work as their employees, ''You know, if you keep going to that church that teaches against homosexuality, teaches what the Bible says, we're going to have to let you go.'
"So they're going to be forced to make a choice between a church that they attend and have been attending for years, and their job."
[John] Eidsmoe also said the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision was illegitimate because two of the justices who supported it -- Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan -- had performed same-sex marriages.
The foundation had filed a motion for Ginsburg and Kagan to recuse themselves from the case.
"They were incapable of considering this question objectively," Eidsmore said. "And therefore, they had every duty to recuse."
The Religious Right’s fear-mongering of impending anti-Christian persecution in the wake of the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision reached a crescendo last night with a fundraising email from the Family Research Council warning that President Obama plans to “eliminate” Christianity and demanding contributions “before it is literally too late.”
“[S]ame-sex ‘marriage’ is not the ultimate issue,” FRC President Tony Perkins warns in the email, “it is a stepping-stone. The real issue is the Obama administration's dogged determination to eliminate anything and everything that stands in the way of the President's radical agenda. Silence dissent. And to do that, you punish speech -- and belief.”
“Orthodox Christianity's truth doesn't change,” he adds, “and as long as we remain tethered to this transcendent, unchangeable truth, we are a problem for them. If you can't change it, you must eliminate it. Which is what they are seeking to do.”
“With the Supreme Court ruling to redefine marriage, things are going to get rough for Christians in America,” he writes, comforting his flock by quoting Jesus’ warnings to his disciples about persecution.
All emphases are in the original:
It is no exaggeration to say that this is a crisis.
FRC Action is moving fast on this. We are pushing for passage of FADA -- the First Amendment Defense Act: legislation that will help protect people of faith from their own government. It would prohibit discrimination against individuals, organizations and small businesses because of their belief in natural marriage.
Under FADA (similar to legislation previously known as the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act) the same institutions that Verrilli warned about -- child welfare organizations, private schools, religious universities, relief providers, abstinence groups, military religious contractors, adoption agencies, Christian hospitals, political nonprofits and others -- would be spared the government's crackdown.
But we need your help on this.
I'm asking you to take immediate action -- give a generous contribution to help us fight back before it's literally too late, and the exercise of our religious freedoms are relegated to a few hours on Sunday morning.
The Supreme Court case that revealed the government's intentions made it clear: same-sex "marriage" is not the ultimate issue; it is a stepping-stone. The real issue is the Obama administration's dogged determination to eliminate anything and everything that stands in the way of the President's radical agenda. Silence dissent. And to do that, you punish speech -- and belief.
We also need to understand: With the Supreme Court ruling to redefine marriage, things are going to get rough for Christians in America. But we should not be surprised. Jesus warned us this would happen in John Chapters 15 and 16 when He essentially says, I've warned you they will hate you because you follow Me, so that you're not surprised when it happens and it doesn't cause you to be offended and fall away from the truth.
In the view of the Left, standing firm for biblical values is beyond preposterous: it's dangerous. By holding fast to what the Bible teaches about human interactions, you make yourself dangerous to this government. Orthodox Christianity's truth doesn't change -- and as long as we remain tethered to this transcendent, unchangeable truth, we are a problem for them. If you can't change it, you must eliminate it. Which is what they are seeking to do.
Our culture has become dangerous.
If we don't stop this march against freedom now, we will see a rapid erosion of our liberties . We will see the disappearance of tax exemptions for Christian ministries and institutions and student loans for Christian students. We will see a renewed push for ENDA (the so-called Employment Non-Discrimination Act), which would tie the hands of Christian business owners. We will see a host of executive orders issued by the President before he leaves office.
This radical President is sure to push the envelope. He will make every move he can, with a firm belief that Republicans will not have the political will and courage to undo any of them.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is furious at the Supreme Court for its rulings last week rejecting a challenge to the Affordable Care Act and knocking down same-sex marriage bans around the nation. In an interview with Iowa conservative radio host Simon Conway on Friday, Jindal repeated his suggestion that “we just get rid of the Supreme Court,” adding that the “upcoming assault on religious liberty” that he has been warning about “is here.”
“So the Supreme Court’s basically saying words have no meaning, we don’t have to follow the Constitution,” he said. “Simon, I’m always looking for ways to save money. Why don’t we just get rid of the Supreme Court? Chief Roberts is maybe a great politician, but their job isn’t to be politicians, isn’t to be elected officials, their job is to read and apply the Constitution.”
“I’ve been very, very worried about the upcoming assault on religious liberty,” he added. “It is here. If the left, they condone discrimination against Christian florist, business owners and others that don’t want to participate in wedding ceremonies that violate their conscience or religious beliefs.
“If the left were really honest, Simon, they should just repeal the First Amendment to the Constitution. They don’t believe in it, they don’t believe in the freedom of religious liberty, they don’t believe in the Second Amendment, might as well get rid of that while they’re out of it, they might as well try to get rid of the 10th Amendment, they don’t believe in states’ rights.”
He added that the “White House made a mockery of itself” in its celebration of both rulings.
In a moment of time, you have done more to energize our side than a string of political victories for us could ever have done.
You have so painted us into a corner and so overstepped the bounds of your office that you have singlehandedly strengthened our resolve to stand, even unifying groups and individuals that had not worked together before now.
For that, sir, I sincerely thank you.
I also want to thank you for confirming what we have been saying for many years now, namely, that gay activism is the principle threat to our freedoms of speech, religion, and conscience.
Brown says the marriage equality ruling has given justification to “a torrent of hatred” aimed at religious conservatives, and he cites a biblical injunction from Jesus to his followers to rejoice when they face persecution.
Thank you, Justice Kennedy, for bringing unprecedented religious persecution to the shores of our nation. Despite the darkness and pain ahead, this will only cause the Church to wake up and grow stronger.
It is worth noting that Brown made similar remarks about a wake-up call for the Church, as well as a “fresh call to revolution” among America’s pastors, two years ago after Supreme Court rulings that overturned key sections of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and opened the door for same-sex couples in California to get legally married. In that broadcast, Brown told Christians not to get upset about “gloating” from gay-rights activists, but to pity them because God will “have the last word.”
Jim Garlow celebrated Father’s Day this year by inviting David and Jason Benham — conservative activists who became Religious Right martyrs when they lost a planned house-flipping TV show after their extreme views came to light — to speak about manly courage at his Skyline Church. As an extra bonus, the Benham brothers brought along their father, Flip Benham, a fiery street preacher and anti-choice activist who told the audience that the real problem of “fatherlessness” in America is the rejection of “the Heavenly Father.”
The elder Benham quoted the book of Malachi: “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, the hearts of the children to their fathers, or I will smite the land with a curse.”
“That is what is happening here,” he said, “fatherlessness. The Heavenly Father, we reject him, we’ve expelled him from school, we’ve banished him from the schoolyard and he’s been replaced with metal detectors, condoms, drugs and violence of unprecedented order, while we’re looking at each other with awkward amazement wondering what has happened here. When you move God, when you take Him out of the equation, violence always enters in.”
After the brothers told their story of persecution at the hands of gay rights activists, David Benham compared America today to first-century Rome, when Nero “started the persecution against the Christians” by using a “narrative that the Christians and Jews were haters of Rome because they would not bow to the emperor.”
“I’m telling you, the same spirit of Nero is in America,” he said, “and persecution is coming.”
In an interview with an Alabama Christian radio station on the day of the arguments in the Supreme Court marriage cases in April, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver warned that although “we have faced in Judeo-Christian history more dire times than this,” marriage equality opponents should be prepared to face martyrdom at the hands of an unjust government just like Daniel and Esther were in the Old Testament.
In anticipation of a decision striking down gay marriage bans, Staver said, “we must ask for God’s intervention, God’s grace, God’s forgiveness and God’s miraculous turn of events.”
If not, he said, marriage equality opponents should be prepared to emulate Daniel, who was thrown into a lion’s den, and Esther, who risked her life to save the Jews of Persia from execution.
“We may have to stand like that,” he said. “We may have to stand like people of old, like Martin Luther King, Jr., did when he faced unjust laws. And we have to be prepared to face the consequences. But one thing we cannot do, one thing we will not do because we cannot do it, we cannot betray our Lord, we cannot deny reality, we cannot disobey the scripture and the teachings of the church, that’s a line we cannot cross.”
GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee told Iowa-based talk radio host Simon Conway yesterday that if the Supreme Court strikes down bans on same-sex marriage, “religious liberty in this country will radically change and it will never be the same again” and consequently all other liberties will fall away.
“The issue, for example, in marriage is really an issue about religious liberty,” he said. “That’s what the fundamental underlying issue, when the government can tell me how much I can believe, if it can restrict my faith and restrict my belief by putting a boot on religious liberty. Religious liberty is the heart of all freedoms, so if the government tells me what I can believe, they can tell me what I can say, what I can do, where I can go, with whom I can associate, they can restrict how much privacy I have. Everything falls away when the government takes away religious liberty.”
Laughably claiming that marriage equality isn’t “an issue that I’ve put front and center” but that the Supreme Court has forced him to talk about it, Huckabee insisted that the marriage case isn’t “about just having people who want to love each other.”
“No, this is not an expansion of marriage, this is a redefinition,” he said. “And when it changes, religious liberty in this country will radically change and it will never be the same again.”
Huckabee, who has vowed to block a pro-marriage-equality decision from the court if he becomes president, added, “By the way, I don’t think the Supreme Court can make a decision about same-sex marriage because they can no more suspend the law of nature than they can the law of gravity.” Such a decision, he said, would not be “the law of the land.”
“Judicial supremacy leads to judicial tyranny, and that’s where we’re headed,” he said.
Twentieth century, let’s see, we left the secularists in charge…We had Hitler, we had Joseph Stalin and we had Mao. 120 million people [killed]. It gets worse. In the second half of the 20thcentury, we’ve murdered 400 [million] babies through abortion in China and 50 million in the United States. Let’s see, there are 500 million people we have killed in the 20th century. It’s one-tenth of the number of people who are living today, almost one-tenth.
How did we do that? We let the secularists in charge. You can’t let the secularists in charge! You have to get involved.
-Chuck Stetson, CEO of Essentials in Education, speaking at Skyline Church's Future Conference, June 2015
First they came for the adoption ministry, but I did not speak out, because I did not do adoptions.
Then they came for the wedding photographer, but I did not speak out, because I did not do photographic weddings.
Then they came for the baker, and I did not speak out because I was not a baker. Then they came for the florist, but I said nothing, because I was not a florist.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.
-Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, paraphrasing Martin Niemöller at the Future Conference
Last week, a few hundred pastors, parishioners and activists gathered at Jim Garlow’s Skyline Wesleyan Church outside of San Diego for what Garlow called the “Future Conference.” The name of the conference appeared to have two meanings. First, in the words of its marketing materials, that “what you thought was coming…is here now” — in other words, that a great spiritual clash in which Christians are called to be martyrs has arrived. And second, that ultimately, the future will belong to conservative Christians as they wrest control from secular authority and take “dominion” over the country and the world.
The themes of imminent martyrdom and eventual dominion dominated the four-day conference, in which 56 speakers gave what added up to more than 24 hours of TED-style speeches.
The event was heavily tinged with “seven mountains” dominionism, the idea that Christians are called by God to be leaders of or to wield dominant influence over the seven main areas, or “mountains,” of culture — not only religion and family, but also government, business, education, media and entertainment.
Garlow himself has been very active in politics, as one of the organizing forces behind the effort to pass the Proposition 8 gay-marriage ban in California and a proponent of Pulpit Freedom Sunday, the movement that encourages pastors to break the rarely-enforced IRS rule that prohibits tax-exempt churches from endorsing or opposing candidates for office. Garlow has especially close ties with former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, to whom he gave partial credit for inspiring the conference. Gingrich submitted a video address to the conference, as did two current Republican members of Congress, Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia and Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma.
Speaker after speaker lamented the failure of the church to engage in the “culture” — through media, through education, and most importantly through politics. As Garlow wrote in an introductory letter to attendees:
Allow me to be direct: our nation is in trouble. Deep trouble. But you already knew that. That is one of the reasons you are at the FUTURE Conference. But why is our nation in trouble? Because of (how do I say this nicely?) the church. What is lacking? A clear proclamation of biblical answers to the messiness of our culture. Does the Bible actually speak to civic and national issues. Yes, it does!
Secular government and culture, the message was, are creating chaos at home and around the world. And pastors and believers who fail to engage in the wider world are letting it happen.
Just as important was the idea that, as Garlow put it, “you and I were made for this moment.” The going has gotten tough, the message was, not just for Christians facing violent persecution in places like Syria and Iraq, but also for conservative American Christians who claim to feel marginalized by advances in gay rights and who fear a potential Supreme Court decision striking down gay marriage bans. Glenn Beck, promoting the conference with Garlow, said that he knew of 10,000 pastors who were willing to die fighting this supposed anti-Christian persecution in America.
Most speakers were careful to point out that these threats are on very different orders of magnitude, although some hinted that American Christians were on the path to much more difficult times.
This was a spiritual battle that a disengaged church was letting the forces of darkness — radical Islam, the “redefinition of marriage,” abortion rights, pornography — win. Territory would have to be regained.
A ‘Spiritual Battle’ Against Gay Marriage
As is patently obvious, this is a spiritual battle. We need the intercession of every prayer warrior, every angel, and certainly the Holy Spirit. We must bombard the gates of Heaven ceaselessly for God Almighty to reverse our tragic cultural course and restore marriage to the venerable and beautiful institution that He did create.
-Frank Schubert, National Organization for Marriage political director, speaking at the Future Conference
While Garlow gathered speakers to talk about a host of imminent threats to American Christians including terrorism, abortion rights, an economic collapse, pornography, welfare and unbiblical movies, at the top of nearly everybody’s minds was the upcoming Supreme Court decision on marriage equality.
Garlow took hope in a presentation from Troy Newman, head of the anti-choice group Operation Rescue, who boasted of a decline in abortion providers in recent years. “If America can survive long enough,” Garlow said, maybe, like in the anti-abortion struggle, a new generation will rise up and see “the casualties from same-sex marriage are so horrific, this has got to be stopped in our nation.”
He elaborated on the “horrific” consequences of marriage equality in an address to the audience the next day, referring to the thoroughly debunked study by sociologist Mark Regnerus that purported to show all manner of negative outcomes for children raised by same-sex couples.
“I’ve been concerned with how many Christians, how many pastors, cannot make the theological case or the sociological case for marriage,” he said. “The redefinition of marriage, sociologically, will be profoundly destructive, profoundly harming. The Regnerus report out of the University of Texas is going to be only one of many examples of many that will follow that are going to show the catastrophic consequences, the pain, the suffering inflicted on the human race by this redefinition of marriage.”
Schubert, a political strategist who works with the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), similarly cited Regnerus’ questionable conclusions as he urged audience members to give money to NOM and to prod their pastors to speak out against marriage equality because “being silent on the most important issue of our day turns it over to the forces of darkness.” If your pastor refuses to speak out against gay marriage, he advised, “I would look for a different church.”
Schubert said that while anti-gay advocates “could very well win” the marriage case before the Supreme Court, Christians must be prepared to use “any and all efforts to encourage resistance” to a ruling they disagree with, “short of violence.” Christians, he said, should “renounce as illegitimate” any Supreme Court decision that attempts to “redefine” marriage.
NOM’s president, Brian Brown, delivered a similar message, telling attendees that the success of the LGBT equality movement means “the days of comfortable Christianity are over.”
“Things have been good for a long time for us,” he said. “We don’t experience the sort of persecution we’re witnessing in the Middle East. We don’t fear for our lives in coming together and worshipping. We’ve felt for a long time that we’re a part of dominant culture. Now in the course of the last decade or so, maybe a little longer, we’ve realized that’s not the case. Things are starting to change. And that, to put it bluntly, the days of comfortable Christianity are over.”
A Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality, he said, would “put a lie into law” and “that law will be used to marginalize, repress and punish those of us who stand for the truth of marriage.”
Claiming that Obama administration policies opposing the violent repression of gay people overseas are actually persecuting people who oppose marriage equality, Brown said that what’s happening to Americans is nothing in comparison and so U.S. Christians should be “cheerful” about “being persecuted.” “What we see and we go and work with folks from around the world is a whole other level of hatred,” he said. “Be cheerful, be happy, you’re being persecuted! Quit being so weak! Okay? What I’m trying to say is, if that’s happening we must be doing something right!”
Anti-gay activist Michael Brown had a similar message, saying that previously bullied LGBT people have now become the “bullies” and that the LGBT rights movement “will not be satisfied until the church bows down.”
Garlow told the crowd that they were “moving into a time of testing” where evangelicals would have to stand up to the predominant culture. He recalled a “vision” he had all the way back in 1990 in which he spoke with God about a future in which there would be “churches being closed by government” on the basis of “the civil rights of homosexuals.”
But no speaker took the gay-marriage panic as far as Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, who spoke to the conference via video. Marriage equality, Staver warned, will cause “a cataclysmic social upheaval in every conceivable area.”
Touting a pledge to disobey any marriage equality ruling that he has recruited hundreds of prominent anti-gay activists to sign, Staver said that gay-marriage opponents must be prepared to resist such a ruling just like the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement resisted segregation and Jim Crow: “I think we’re back in the days of Martin Luther King, Jr. If they tell you to get off the bus, you don’t get off the bus. If they tell you to go to the back of the bus, you don’t go to the back of the bus.”
“This could be the best, most magnificent time for the church,” he said. “It is moments like this, where there is an unprecedented clash, where there’s impossible odds, that God will intervene for his people.”
Staver closed his speech with a rewritten version of anti-Nazi dissident Martin Niemöller’s famous “First they came for the socialists” lines, appropriating them to warn that the supposed persecution of bakers, florists and wedding photographers who deny service to gay people will open the door to a much wider persecution of Christians in America.
Beware Muslims! (Unless They Agree With You On Gay Rights)
Christians are being enslaved and beheaded and burned alive across the Middle East and he’s silent. Christians are being threatened and intimidated and sued and sequestered in Middle America and mum’s the word.
-Dr. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, speaking of President Obama at the Future Conference
Although most speakers were careful to say that the supposed persecution of American Christian conservatives at the hands of the LGBT rights movement is on an entirely different order of magnitude than that being faced by Christians at the hands of ISIS and oppressive Islamist governments, there was a sense of joint martyrdom, that both are fighting for spiritual ground against forces allied with Satan.
As Steven Khoury, an Arab Israeli pastor, put it, “persecution is coming to America,” and he was there to help Americans learn how to stand up to it.
Garlow invited a few of the top anti-Islam activists in America to warn that the country, if it lets its guard down, risks facing subjugation at the hands of American Muslims. Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy warned that since 9/11, millions of Muslim immigrants have staged a “colonization” of America. He warned pastors in the crowd against any sort of interfaith dialogue with Muslims or letting Muslim groups use their church facilities, which he said “is really about providing political cover to Muslims who don’t deserve it.” Anti-Muslim activist Stephen Coughlin similarly warned pastors against falling for the “interfaith delusion.”
But nobody had a more dire warning than right-wing activist Avi Lipkin, who told pastors that “all” churches in America have been infiltrated by Muslim spies pretending to be Christian converts. These moles, he warned, are cataloguing Christians and Jews in order to kill them all when Muslim jihadists take over.
All of the talk of "religious liberty" and threats to the First Amendment seemed to be conveniently forgotten when Lipkin endorsed laws such as Switzerland’s ban on minarets, declaring: “Until Islam is banned and suppressed and erased, the Jews will not have any chance to survive in this country.”
However, he had some good news: Muslim immigration to America, he predicted, would drive U.S. Jews to the Middle East, setting up a conflict in which Islam will be “finished.” “I predict Islam will be terminated very soon,” he said to enthusiastic applause.
It was jarring, then, to later in the very same day, hear a speech from Austin Ruse, the head of the conservative Catholic United Nations advocacy group C-FAM, in which he said that some of his greatest allies in the fight to stop “radically secular countries” from inserting LGBT rights and reproductive health language into UN documents were representatives of Muslim countries.
“The pro-life, pro-family coalition in the United Nations is strange bedfellows,” he said. “It includes Muslims. And without a bloc of Muslim countries supporting life and family at the UN, we would have had a right to abortion a long time ago, and redefinition of family.”
Garlow took it upon himself to clarify this, taking the stage after Ruse's remarks to reassure the audience that “co-belligerency” with “people who are hostile to much of our values” is sometimes necessary when “they actually have an interest in some portion of our Kingdom values.” He compared Ruse’s work with Muslim countries at the UN to his alliance with Mormon leaders to pass Proposition 8 in California.
Throughout the conference, Israel was portrayed as a spiritual bulwark of the West against surrounding Satanic Islam — something exemplified by its relatively secular values. No one, however, mentioned, that Israel is one of what Ruse called the “radical secular countries” advocating for LGBT rights at the UN. Also ignored were policies such as Israel's public funding of abortion services or the fact that just days prior to the event, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his "blessings" to LGBT Pride marchers.
Dr. Everett Piper, the president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, tied together this idea that “secularists” are working in cahoots with radical Islam, aided by President Obama.
“For 67 years, we’ve disparaged dead, white, European males in our college classrooms,” he said. “Are we surprised that we now have a president whose first action was to remove the bust of Winston Churchill from the White House and send it back to the British ambassador’s home? For 67 years, we’ve sent our kids off to sit under faculty who have panned a Judeo-Christian ethic and praised its antithesis. Are we surprised that we now have a White House that is seemingly more aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood and the PLO than it is Benjamin Netanyahu and Franklin Graham?”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — whom Garlow partially credited with inspiring the conference — put it a different way in a video address to the event, saying that Christians are facing simultaneous attacks from “secular totalitarianism” and “Islamic supremacism,” with the two factions allied in a “war on Christianity.” Gingrich, who has spent years warning that the U.S. will soon become a "secular atheist country" that is "dominated by radical Islamists,” has been working to court pastors like Garlow who have ties to the dominionist movement.
Christians are dual citizens. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God by faith in Jesus Christ … We are also citizens of an earthly “kingdom” … In the absence of Christians taking their dual citizenship seriously, obeying the dual commissions faithfully, and attempting to follow the dual commandments devotedly, the devil’s crowd has taken over key places of influence in our culture largely by default, even in a nation where professing Christians are still in the majority.
- Family Research Council manual for establishing a church “culture impact team,” distributed to pastors at the Future Conference
The sense of the inadequacy of secular leadership that pervaded the Future Conference was summarized by Republican Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia, who told the Future Conference via video that secular government leads to rampant divorce, teen pregnancy, crime and gang violence, all of which invite a greater presence from Big Government:
Garlow painted a similarly bleak message, saying that the struggles of the city of Detroit are the result of a lack of “bold, biblical preaching and the application of scriptural truth to all components of contemporary life.”
“The absence of biblical truth being applied to a metropolitan area literally destroyed it,” he said.
Garlow didn’t specify which exact “biblical truths” Detroit is in violation of, but conservative activist Star Parker, who declared her intention to “destroy the welfare state,” might have provided some hints.
Parker told the gathering that the U.S. is “in a similar place right now in our country to where we were in the 1850s” when we were “half free and half slave.”
“And we’re at a crossroads again,” she said, “because we’re at the place where we’re half free and half slave. We’re in the battle of our lifetime, we’re in the battle for the very heart and soul of our great country, to go into a future, if we can, even as the Scriptures told us that God actually planned for us a future and a hope, and yet that future and hope is under attack.”
“We’re either going to come up out of this biblical and free,” she said, “or we gotta come up here secular and statist.”
Chuck Stetson, who runs a program that develops “biblical literacy” courses that clear the First-Amendment bar for being taught in public schools, had a similar message, claiming that the great genocides of the 20th century (in which he included abortion) were the result of leaving the “secularists in charge.”
Lamenting that “three percent of the population” (LGBT people) are defeating "70 percent of the population” (Christians), Stetson urged conservative Christians to develop a “broader concept of missions” and to get involved in politics as well as “literature, art [and] music.”
He used the metaphor of a cruise ship: Christians, he said, were gathering around the lifeboats in an effort to save souls, even while throughout the boat, “they’re breaking out the booze, bringing out the gaming tables. They need the Christians down there.”
In fact, the Future Conference, Garlow reported, started out as a sort of founding conference for the United States Coalition of Apostolic Leaders, a new group led by Joe Mattera, a New York minister who is a leader in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). NAR is a controversial movement within evangelical Christianity which is led by self-declared prophets and apostles. Many of NAR’s leaders promote “seven mountains” dominionism, the idea that conservative Christians must take “dominion” over all seven “mountains” of culture in order to pave the way for Christ’s return.
(NAR and dominionism began to attract press attention back in 2011 when then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry hosted a rally featuring many NAR leaders. Its adherents then began to downplay its core themes, saying they were seeking more “influence” than “dominion.”)
Wallnau gave a Glenn Beck-style whiteboard presentation outlining the "seven mountains" theology for the audience, explaining that if the church doesn’t occupy each of the seven spheres of culture, “the Enemy will.”
“The reason why we’re having a problem in the United States is because, honestly, we have not been pursuing the discipling of the nation, we’ve been pursuing the evangelizing of the people and the building of ministries,” he said. “And so we’ve neglected entire territory that the Enemy was all too quick to go in and take possession of.”
Peacocke — the founder of a group that works with business and community leaders to bring “God’s kingdom to earth” — put the message succinctly when the told the enthusiastic crowd that Christians have been called to be leaders in every area: “We should be leading. Virtually every place there’s a Christian, they should be a manager, they should be management. We should have the relational skillset to manage wherever we go, because that is what Christians are called to be, responsible empowerers of other people.”
In his talk, Mattera clarified that he and his allies were calling on Christians to become “leaders of culture” not through force but through simply being the best in all fields. “We’re not called to take cities, we’re called to love them and serve them,” he said, “and once we produce the greatest problem-solvers the world has ever seen, the leaders of culture will come and beg us to lead, because they’re going to see that we’re the only ones who have the answer.”
He added that a key component of this would be to follow the scriptural commandment to “multiply” and “replenish” the Earth, which he specified means having more than two children per couple.
“In general, God has called His children to have more children than any other people,” he said, “so this way we will have the people to fill every aspect of culture, not just bodies, but trained in the covenant, because the word ‘replenish’ implies that they go and they fill the earth with God’s law, with the result being subdue the earth and have dominion.”
A practical guide to the political portion of this mission was provided by Kenyn Cureton, the head of ministerial outreach at the Family Research Council, who presented pastors and churchgoers with guides for establishing “culture impact teams” — basically political committees — within churches. Politically involved churches, he said, are “fighting a spiritual battle,” not against gay rights advocates or pro-choice groups, but against Satan, who has caught cultural liberals in his “snare.”
“Who’s behind the effort to snuff out human life through embryo-destructive research and abortion?” he asked. “Who’s behind the effort to indoctrinate our children with these alternative lifestyles, redefine marriage, and even ruin our military? Who’s behind the effort to drive God out government, Christ out of culture and faith out of public life? Who’s behind that? I mean, it’s pretty easy for us to understand as believers, it’s the Devil.”
Where Politics and Religion Collide
Although the focus of Garlow’s conference was largely on the twin evils of secularism and Islam, he also invited Black and Latino pastors with whom he had worked on resisting Prop 8 to discuss criminal justice reform, on which conservatives are increasingly engaging in bipartisan coalition work, and immigration, on which some evangelical leaders have been trying to get Republicans to adopt positions, or at least rhetoric, that is less offensive to Latino voters.
One of the most revealing moments of the conference came after a speech by Mark Gonzales, a Texas pastor who through his Hispanic Prayer Network seems to be attempting to connect the NAR movement with Latino evangelicals. Gonzales told the mostly white audience that God is using Latino immigration to bring “revival to America,” but that Satan is trying to stop that revival from happening by dividing the church on the issue of immigration.
And it’s not just religious revival that Latino immigrants will bring, he said. They will also help conservatives win elections.
“When God allows this many people to come into a nation, he’s up to something,” Gonzales said. He then made a well-rehearsed pitch to the conservative audience for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have long lived in the country if they first overcome a number of hurdles.
Immediately following Gonzales’s speech, Garlow came on stage to “clarify” for the crowd what Gonzales was saying. “What he’s talking about, so we’re all on the same page, is not amnesty,” he said.
Gonzales responded that anti-immigrant pundits do indeed call proposals like his “amnesty,” but using that word is the “biggest disservice we can do as the body of Christ.”
Parts of the audience clapped. Others did not seem sold.
Questions of biblical guidance and political expediency had, for a moment, become the same thing.
A large portion of Jim Garlow’s “Future Conference” in San Diego this week was devoted to the plight of Christians in parts of the Middle East, including those imprisoned and even executed by ISIS and oppressive governments.
The speakers largely refrained from making strained false equivalencies between Christians persecuted by ISIS and American Christians “persecuted” by having to provide public services to gay people. (The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, who has made a cottage industryout of this kind of rhetoric, was scheduled to speak but had to drop out because of illness.) To Garlow’s credit, he also invited Suzan Johnson Cook, the former Obama-appointed U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, to discuss the work that she did in that office.
But Cook was forced to confront some of the entrenched right-wing talking points about the Obama administration and religious freedom when, in a Q&A after her speech, conservative pundit Gina Loudon asked her why “we hear so little” from the administration about efforts to help victims of religious persecution. Loudon’s question echoed the claims of many Religious Right activist who claim that the president has done little to free imprisoned Christians, even when presentedwithevidence to the contrary.
Cook told Loudon that how much the administration says publicly about these cases does not always reflect the amount of work that they are doing “delicately and discreetly” behind the scenes. While such cases are “a priority,” she said, “many times you can’t tell the story of who’s being persecuted outwardly, because many times their very lives were at stake”:
I think that, you know, government operates in its own way. We’re one agency within a myriad of agencies. I think we have to keep the pressure on. The State Department was very much on it. And, as I said, we have interagency efforts where we certainly worked with the White House. I mean, I can’t defend why it wasn’t talked about more, but what I can say, it was a priority.
… Many times you can’t tell the story of who’s being persecuted outwardly, because many times their very lives were at stake. So there was a family, for example, in Iraq that we were helping get out. Had we made it public, that family would have been killed before they got out. So you have to use discretion and you have to move discreetly, and many times, even though it seems to the public like we’re being quiet, you must know that my days were 16-20 hour days and there was a lot of work to be done … [Y]ou really have to move delicately and discreetly, otherwise some people can not only be persecuted, but they really can be killed. And ultimately what you really want is for the person to be free.
Dan Forest, the Republican lieutenant governor of North Carolina, joined Craig James on the Family Research Council’s “Washington Watch” program yesterday to discuss a new law in his state that allows public officials to temporarily stop performing marriages if they want to avoid marrying a same-sex or even an interracial couple. Forest supported the bill, which the legislature passed over the veto of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.
Forest told James that the federal court that had struck down North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage had overstepped its role because not only did it say the marriage ban was unconstitutional, it said that officials in the state “have to perform those marriages” and “went so far as to making sure that law was going to be enforced in North Carolina.”
Forest said that far from being unconstitutional, the new law is actually “upholding the Constitution” because the legislature is the one that assigns duties to magistrates. He added that the law “doesn’t discriminate against anybody, instead it does just the opposite” by supposedly protecting the religious freedom of state magistrates.
“Help me out here, because I’m just somewhat of a country boy,” James added sarcastically. “Go find someone else who will perform your ceremony! What’s wrong with that concept?”
The two then predictably declared that opposition to the new law is just anti-Christian persecution.
“You’re not telling them they can’t have a ceremony,” Forest said, “it’s just protecting the religious beliefs of those who don’t want to do it.”
“So, really what this is from the other side, from the left, this is saying that ‘we are not tolerant of you, we’re not tolerant of your beliefs, you do not fit into our great diverse rainbow of diversity here. We will accept everybody but Christians.’” Forest added. “And so that’s really what’s going on here, is it’s very focused on Christians only and so that’s why we’re seeing these issues.”
Promise Keepers, a Christian “men’s ministry” founded by former Colorado football coach Bill McCartney, is celebrating its 25th year. The group’s current militarized language and imagery matches the increasingly violent rhetoric of resistance and revolution from the far right. It may also reflect the background of current PK President Dr. Raleigh Washington, described as a “20-year U.S. Army veteran.”
The group, which filled stadiums and attracted criticism for its patriarchal message in its 1990s heyday, has a smaller profile today. This year it is holding several gatherings, starting with one in Stockton, California, back in May, with other events following in Dallas in August; Pittsburgh in September (rescheduled from June); Rochester, Minnesota, in October; and Redmond, Washington, in November.
The Promise Keepers website promotes the events with a headline: “BATTLE LINES: No Compromise!”
Today’s culture nurtures a popular misconception that tolerance is the only reasonable worldview. Unfortunately, this spirit of compromise on key moral and biblical issues has permeated both our culture and the church. Divorce and co-habitation rates continue to rise. Same-sex marriage is now accepted and abortion is still legal in our nation. Scripture is quite clear how we are to respond whenever the foundations of the Christian faith are under attack: our duty is to contend for the faith, without compromise.
In 1 John 1:5 John wrote, “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” This is a very definitive statement. God is light. There are no shades of grey with God. He is Light and in Him, there is no darkness. What is light? It’s truth, and there is no compromising God’s Truth. There is no middle ground.
Considering the current times, as Promise Keepers, we must boldly and courageously stand for truth. We must defend biblical marriage, champion the life of the unborn and protect religious liberty. We cannot stand back and allow moral relativism, cultural decadence, spiritual apathy and ecclesiastical indifference to hinder us any longer. We must draw our battle lines without compromise.
The website declares, “Everything that Promise Keepers does centers on this central truth – obedience to the Word of God.” The website also encourages people to join the “One Message” movement, a project of Promise Keepers that is working to bring about the “greatest revival the world has ever known” – in fact, they say, it’s already under way:
The greatest revival the world has ever known – a revival prophesied by the Apostle Paul and affirmed by men like Jonathan Edwards and C. H. Spurgeon – has begun. And each of us has the amazing privilege of being a part of it.
This revival began 65 years ago, when the State of Israel – a nation that ceased to exist 2,000 years earlier – was reborn in a day. Since then, the Jewish people have been turning by thousands to recognize Yeshua (Jesus’ Hebrew name) as their long-awaited Messiah.
Perkins accomplished this sleight of hand once again in an email to FRC members today urging them to donate to the group in exchange for a “Nasrani” pin expressing solidarity with Iraqi and Syrian Christians who are being persecuted by ISIS. But Perkins doesn’t just ask for members to support their fellow Christians in the Middle East who are facing actual, violent persecution — he compares the persecution of Christians at the hands of ISIS to the supposed persecution of Christians in America.
“Please take a stand for persecuted Christians in America….and everywhere!” the email reads.
In an Iranian prison, a man is praying . . . for Christians in America.
In a hidden location in North Korea, a kneeling circle of believers cry out to God . . . for Christians in America.
I know of no stronger evidence of the connection between the persecuted church overseas and the persecuted church in America than this: they are praying for us!
That's why I urge you to allow me to send you a Nasrani Pin as my thank you for your gift to help FRC stand for religious freedom in America as Christian faith comes under growing attack -- and also speak out for the persecuted Christians overseas.
The man in an Iranian prison who Perkins refers to is Saeed Abedini, an American pastor who has been detained in Iran since 2012. Abedini did indeed send an open letter to Christians in America on the National Day of Prayer saying that he would be praying for America on that day. But he also mentioned several times the “freedom” enjoyed by American Christians to practice their religion. In a letter to President Obama, which the president read during his own National Day of Prayer remarks, Abedini similarly said that he was “proud to be part of this great nation of the United States of America that cares for religious freedom around the world.”
Perkins and FRC should be commended for any work they are doing to free prisoners like Abedini. But using the plight of Abedini and those like him to stoke fear that liberal social policies will lead to the persecution of Christians in America is another thing entirely.
In fact, Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, the Religious Right group that is leading the fight among American evangelicals for Abedini’s release, criticized Perkins in a congressional hearing earlier this year for his over-the-top talking points linking policies he doesn’t like to the real suffering of Christians at the hands of groups like ISIS:
All of this followed an op-ed Jindal had written in the New York Times swearing that he would stand up against the “bullying” by gay rights advocates who had been resisting similar laws in other states.
That op-ed earned Jindal, who is also a likely GOP presidential candidate, a glowing portrait in this month’s edition of Decision, the magazine published by Billy Graham’s ministry, in which he declared that by resisting such “right to discriminate” measures, liberals are trying “to essentially outlaw firmly held religious beliefs that they do not agree with.”
He also claimed that the Louisiana bill that was ultimately rejected was “not about discriminating against folks.”
Jindal says the debate over gay marriage really transcends the marriage issue and reveals the agenda of the secular left.
“The left is now in full battle mode against the right to religious freedom that is guaranteed by the First Amendment, and we’re seeing it firsthand in my state,” Jindal said. “You saw the bullying tactics they recently used to intimidate other states when the states tried to pass laws protecting religious freedom. … This is a battle by the left to essentially outlaw firmly held religious beliefs that they do not agree with.”
Jindal emphasized to Decision that the Louisiana law would not allow for discrimination against people because of sexual orientation, and he disputed the charges by opponents that protecting the religious liberties of Americans is somehow “hateful.”
“This is not about discriminating against folks or about judging people,” Jindal said. “This is simply about protecting the essential religious freedom rights in the First Amendment.”
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins wrapped up his group’s annual “Watchmen on the Wall” pastors’ conference by warning the conservative pastors in the audience that although they “may have five years” before they are dragged “kicking and screaming” out of their churches if the Supreme Court strikes down same-sex marriage bans, they should start preparing their congregations for “persecution.”
“We are about to be challenged to the very core of what it means to be a Christian,” he said. “If the court hands down this decision redefining marriage for America, they’re not going to come and take you, dragging and kicking and screaming out of your church in the next six months. You may have five years.”
“But let me tell you who’s going to face it first,” he said. “It’s your folks that are sitting in the pew.”
He said that pastors should tell their congregations that there is no middle ground on gay rights and that “they live all for God or they don’t live for him at all.” It’s “time to teach them” to “resist unrighteous and unlawful government,” he added.
Perkins told them that he was not being hateful because “I love God and I love people.”
“I cannot think of anything that would be a greater display of hate than to know the truth and not speak it,” he said.
Later in his speech, Perkins repeated hisclaim that the supposed persecution of Christians in America resulting from LGBT equality and reproductive rights is encouraging the violent oppression of Christians in the Middle East by groups like ISIS.
“Understand that we don’t live in a vacuum here in America,” he said. “What we do here has consequences elsewhere. If we step back and allow this growing intolerance of Christianity here at home at the hands of our own government, Christians will die at the hands of terrorists and tyrants in faraway places. If we are silent about the intolerance here at home, we have given the green flag for those abroad to target and persecute our brothers and sisters in Christ.”
In an interview with Iowa talk radio host Simon Conway yesterday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal took advantage of a discussion of the attempted attack on an anti-Islam event in Garland, Texas, to bring up his favoritetopic: how a secular America is persecuting conservative Christians.
He somehow managed to link the two topics by implying that liberals are not concerned enough about radical Islam and only think it’s okay to discriminate against Christians like Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson.
“In America, there used to be a time with the left, and the media even, celebrated diversity and tolerated free speech and religious liberty,” he said. “Simon, the sad truth is that’s no longer true. They tolerate anybody that agrees with them and nobody else.”
Criticizing President Obama for avoiding publicly linking terrorism with Islam, he claimed that liberals are being more lenient on terrorists than on evangelical Christians: “You saw this with Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty, he made some comments that they didn’t like, they wanted to get his show canceled on A&E, they wanted to get Duck Dynasty removed from A&E. The left doesn’t tolerate those that disagree with them anymore. Hollywood, the media elite, the left, they want us all to act, think, talk like them, and it starts with a secularized America. And it certainly does not allow you to call radical Islamic terrorism the problem.”
When Conway brought up the hubbub over Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ,” which drew the Religious Right’s ire when it was exhibited at a 1987 show that was partially sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, Jindal said that that episode disproved President Obama’s remarks about violent religious extremism during the Crusades. “Despite the president’s concern about medieval Christians and crusaders, I don’t recall there being violence at the time” of the Serrano incident, Jindal said.
“The only group, it seems like, that the left is willing to discriminate against today is evangelical Christians and others with traditional values and beliefs,” he concluded, citing cases of business owners sued for refusing service to gay and lesbian customers.
“I would think the left, even if they don’t share our Judeo-Christian heritage or views or beliefs, they would recognize in America, one of the great strengths in this country is the diversity and the tolerance for others that disagree with them, and it’s sad to see their hypocrisy today,” he said.
In an interview with conservative radio host Chuck Wilder on Monday, Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly said that lawsuits against business owners who violate nondiscrimination measures by refusing service to gay and lesbian customers show that marriage equality advocates ultimately seek “to wipe out the Christian religion.”
“Have you noticed that only Christian small-businesspeople have been harassed and sued for refusing to participate in same-sex marriages even though our fast-growing immigrant populations, you know of Muslims, Hindus and other faiths are also opposed to that concept?” Wilder asked. “The use of same-sex marriage to attack Christian businesses but not businesses run by members of other religions demonstrates what is really driving the demand for the new constitutional right to same-sex marriage.”
“Well, that is right,” Schlafly responded. “They want to wipe out the Christian religion. And most of these other religions do not recognize same-sex marriage. I assume there are some Muslim bakers and photographers and other people who have been harassed, but they’re not being attacked and they’re not being criticized.”
Rick Santorum’s movie studio, EchoLight Studios, issued a press release yesterday in anticipation of today’s arguments in the marriage cases before the Supreme Court, warning that a decision in favor of marriage equality could lead to the persecution of people who reject “the secularism that is now coming from the government.”
In the press release, Santorum warns that those “who want to live their life consistent with biblical teachings are not being given space to do that."
"It is an increasing view that if you are not with this new orthodoxy, the secularism that is now coming from the government, that these are the values that the government values. If you don't live up to those values, well then you can be persecuted and maybe even prosecuted for doing so," he added.
Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments to determine if same-sex marriage should be nationally recognized in the United States starting April 28. The outcome of these hearings, set for late June, could cause a potentially damaging ripple effect for conservative business owners who, based on their personal religious beliefs, do not want to participate in same-sex wedding ceremonies as was explored in the award-winning EchoLight Studios documentary, "One Generation Away."
"One of the biggest changes in this country in the last four or five years is the level of hostility rising toward people of faith taking public viewpoints in their business or in the public square, even in schools and the military," said Former Senator and EchoLight CEO Rick Santorum. "Those who want to live their life consistent with biblical teachings are not being given space to do that. "
The backdrop to the Supreme Court holding this hearing is a number of high-profile cases of Christian business owners being forced by the government to provide services for same-sex weddings. As highlighted in "One Generation Away," which was released last September, there is a growing understanding that the redefinition of marriage cannot be separated from a loss of freedom.
"It is an increasing view that if you are not with this new orthodoxy, the secularism that is now coming from the government, that these are the values that the government values. If you don't live up to those values, well then you can be persecuted and maybe even prosecuted for doing so," concluded Santorum.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal attempted to add a populist bent to his remarks on the topic — an increasingly popular strategy among LGBT rights opponents — by declaring that “an alliance of Hollywood elites and corporate America” are “assaulting the rights of Christians” by opposing measures like those in Indiana and Arkansas that would have given broad leeway to business owners to discriminate against LGBT customers.
“We need to remind these elites, America did not create religious liberty, religious liberty created the United States of America,” he told the enthusiastic crowd.
John Zmirak, a conservative columnist and senior editor of James Robison’s “The Stream” website, warned in a radio interview this week (as he did in a recent column) that Christians in America are on the verge of being violently persecuted like Armenians during the Armenian Genocide, Jews in Nazi Germany, or Tutsis in Rwanda.
Citing the case of an Indiana pizzeria that shut down after facing backlash after its owners said they wouldn’t cater gay people’s weddings (and which has since received more than $800,000 in donations), Zmirak told Alaska’s Joe Miller that “I think this vilification of faithful Christians could lead to violence in America.”
“It’s happened so many times before, and all the signs are there that the enemies of Christianity are seeing ‘how much can we get away with?” he said.
He warned that within five years, “we’re going to see ourselves reduced to the status of second-class citizens the way Christians are in countries like Egypt and Syria.”
When a dominant group wants to persecute a minority, the first thing they do is vilify them. You had the dominant secularists in France before the French Revolution spend about 20 years vilifying the Christian clergy; the moment they took power in the French Revolution, they started killing the Christian clergy. When the Turks decided that the Armenians were a dangerous minority almost 100 years ago to the day, they started out with a propaganda campaign saying that the Armenians were all traitors working for the Russian czar; within a few years, they were butchering in the streets and driving them into the desert to die of thirst. Same thing happened in, of course, Nazi Germany, they vilified the Jews, preparing people for the Holocaust. You saw it happen again in Rwanda, where the once-powerful Tutsi minority, they were declared on government radio stations for weeks and weeks, they were called cockroaches, ‘we must exterminate the cockroaches.’ It was repeated over and over and over again and it was followed, of course, by a genocide that in the course of a month or two, killed more than a million people.
I think this vilification of faithful Christians could lead to violence in America. I think the churches have been persecuted before, Christians are being persecuted all around the world by Islamists — and the U.S. government is doing nothing, of course — I could imagine Americans standing by while churches are padlocked and pastors are arrested for being hatemongers, while children are being taken away from their parents because they don’t want them to be taught they’re extremist views.
It’s happened so many times before, and all the signs are there that the enemies of Christianity are seeing ‘how much can we get away with? Can we close down a pizza parlor for even theoretically being willing to discriminate? Can we get teachers from religious schools fired? They’re going to keep pushing until they hit pushback. And unless there’s powerful pushback from Christians now — not five years from now, when it will be too late, but now — we’re going to see ourselves reduced to the status of second-class citizens the way Christians are in countries like Egypt and Syria.