LEWISVILLE, TX: The essence of “religious freedom” has been under intense scrutiny for the past several election cycles. The choice of candidates for the elections of 2020 may dramatically affect religious freedom. Democrats need to accept that religious freedom is a right in America – Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhist, Bahai.
The threat to the Church, and to varying degrees, the Synagogue, and other religious expressions is the constant danger of removing government-sanctioned tax-exempt status. If the church doesn’t include certain non-biblical views of secularized society, then they are accused of racism, bigotry, and prejudice, therefore unworthy of tax-exemption.
What is religious freedom?
It is defined as
“a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance. It also includes the freedom to change one’s religion or beliefs.”
The First Amendment to the Constitution is clear:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
While government tax-exempt status is not addressed in the First Amendment’s freedom of religion statement in, one can easily see trends in the United States that seem to warn that religious freedoms are being eroded under the facade of racism, bigotry, and prejudice.
There is an escalating tolerance of anti-Christian attitudes in the United States
Critical attitudes towards Christians and their adherence to biblical morality are being attacked. Christianity, unapologetically, seeks to encourage society to accept a biblically-based morality—criticized by the socialistic, left-wing Democrat Party.
It would appear from a prior Democrat town hall meeting that the Church must support the antibiblical LGBTQ platform including same-sex marriage and gay/transgender rights. Or lose its tax-exempt status. (Beto O’Rourke said he would revoke tax-exempt status from religious organizations that oppose same-sex marriage) . The Church does not deny civil rights to LGBTQ but neither should LGBTQ and liberal secularists deny the right of the Church to practice biblical principles of morality.
Should the American government be allowed to destroy Christianity?
The sexual practices of LGBTQ are anti-biblical. Therefore the government does not have the constitutional authority to force the church to adopt LGBTQ philosophy and beliefs to satisfy the left.
As Franklin Graham recently said,
“…The progressive, socialist-leaning Democrat Party is trying to force on the nation laws and consequences [including withholding tax-exempt status] that would punish those religious groups who do not agree with them.”
The Churches Tax-Exempt status allows their good works
It has been reported that the Church uses tax-exempt status to spend millions of dollars on social services that are considered a crucial part of the nation’s social-service safety net—it’s not to fill Church coffers.
Some may naïvely believe these “small” challenges to religious liberty are not sufficient to undermine a free American society. However, recent developments observed in daily news casts and in political rhetoric, suggest it can happen here.
Emilie Kao, director of the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation warns of the progress of the erosion of worldwide Christian liberty:
“That awful journey often begins with social ostracization of religious minorities. The next step economically disenfranchises religious minorities, denying them employment and education. Next comes the criminalization of minority religious beliefs. These ugly doings can occur anywhere that activists promote the punishment of nonconformists, the government does not intervene to protect minorities, and the majority of citizens stay silent.”
Now we are seeing anti-Church sentiment rear its ugly head in the U.S.
The State of California recently sent armed officers to raid River View Christian Academy based on an online accusation that the school housed illegal drugs and stockpiled weapons. In the ensuing legal battle, the State sought to re-label the school as a “community care facility” making it ineligible for allowing students the right to engage in spiritual and sexual exploration—a violation of the parent’s religious beliefs.
The same source cites another incident: A freshman student in New York applied to the principal at Ketcham H.S. to establish a Christian Club for the purpose of allowing willing students to discuss godly living. It was rejected by the principal for being “too exclusive.” (High School Student Sues NY School For Rejecting Her Christian Club As ‘Too Exclusive’)
While some Christians may have varying convictions about religion in public schools, the incident highlights the hammering, iterative attacks on the rights of the religious.
Every December, churches, public schools, town centers, and businesses, grapple with the difficult task of acknowledging the various religious holiday traditions without violating the separation of Church and state.
Religious freedom in America is under assault. It is not the time to remain silent. Every American must defend personal liberty and stand up for institutional freedom—religious or secular. Respect for contrary views and opinions is essential for maintaining a free America as the founders envisioned.
While we must grant freedom to rivals, we cannot support an intolerant liberal political party that bullies their opposition by suppressing fundamental rights of religious freedom as established under the United States Constitution. Hopefully, but with measured doubt, a rational balance will lead to nonviolent national pluralism. The final outcome may well depend on the 2020 national elections.
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