Let me introduce a new acronym for some of you: SOGI. This stands for Sexual Orientation and Gender Issues. Say it after me--SOGI!
What do SOGI issues have to do with Religious Liberty? More than you might think. When there are different moralities vying for the support of the state and when the state is the de facto arbiter of law and reality, there are going to be problems.
Joseph Boot makes this clarifying observation:
The key problem that we face as Christians today with modern concepts of freedom is that they are political and not theological (Joseph Boot, The Mission of God, loc. 2617).
In churches, how often is theological conviction viewed as entirely negotiable? We think we can have many views and that each view is as good as every other. That's with theological views; no wonder then that political views are viewed as even more maleable.
Here are SOGI situations involving the church:
- LGBT Attendance
- LGBT Membership
- LGBT Leadership
- LGBT Volunteers
- LGBT employees
- Transgender restroom issues
- Same-sex wedding requests
- Contracts with nondiscrimination provisions
Here are SOGI situations involving schools:
- LGBT students or employees
- Public funding triggering federal/state SOGI protections
- PDA/Sexual morality issues and discipline
- Handbooks – what should they contain?
- SOGI related student clubs
- Safe Places
- Student Papers
- Parents who are LGBT
- Public accommodations issues
- Contracts with nondiscrimination provisions
We are at real risk today of losing on SOGI issues especially with religious schools. There are government strings attached to government dollars, and that leaves schools very subject to the whims of the state.
During America's first two centuries religious freedom was viewed as being vital and important, just as Christian faith was viewed in those centuries. Those convictions have dramatically faded in the last two generations.
Many early Americans actually came to this land fleeing religious persecution. They sought a nation without a king and a church without a pope. But while we have neither king nor pope today, we do have legislators and supreme court justices. Today, one of nine justices, Gorsuch, apparently is a Protestant. The remaining eight are all either Catholic or Jewish.
What is religious liberty? Ben Shapiro, an orthodox Jew, makes this point about religious liberty:
"Judeo-Christian religion has created the foundation for the greatest civilization in the history of mankind. . . modern atheism has its root in Judeo-Christian religion; it does. It doesn't exist in the Islamic world. . . the freedom to be an atheist only exists in the West; it only exists in the Judeo-Christian world. The freedoms that the left bases its whole worldview on are within a mileau that was created by a religion it despises. You can't just take a battering ram to the foundations of civilization and hope the superstructure stands" (Ben Shapiro, video clip YouTube, Grey Disciple).
Religious liberty is the right of an individual to worship according to his conscience without government interference. Very simple.
But things are changing. About 2010 the language that the government uses suddenly changed. Rather than speaking of "freedom of religion," we are now hearing a different phrase: "freedom of worship." "Freedom of religion" means the freedom to publicly display, advocate for, protest, and proselytize. But "Freedom of worship" means only the right to gather, pray, and sing. This is very different. There are also some positive signs of a respite under the latest administration.
Be that as it may, there are danger signals all around. I wonder if anyone here knows who Chai Feldblum is.
She is one of five members of the United States government Equal Employment Opportunity Commision. Referring to the SOGI issues, she said this in a 2006 interview:
"Sexual liberty should win in most cases. There can be a conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty, but in almost all cases the sexual liberty should win because that's the only way that the dignity of gay people can be affirmed in any realistic manner... I'm having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win" (Chai Feldblum, interviewed by Maggie Gallagher in 2006).
Where is she coming from? In 2004 she suggested that LGBT "rights" be promoted as moral values. She called this using the "the weapons of moral values." Follow her five-step line of argument. Tell me when you get queasy:
- Moral values are important to a healthy society
- Intimate relationships between individuals and in family structures are critical moral and political units that can create a healthy society
- Its the government's responsibility to nurture these moral and political units
- People in opposite sex relationships and people in same-sex relationships equally embody this moral good and equally deserve support from public policies
- Our current public policies undermine the moral and political unit of same-sex couples and families, and that's a moral wrong that needs to be rectified.
Then she said this:
"With those principles, I think you then need the components of legislative lawyering, policy research, and political and social engagement, and you need someone to fund and demand a three year plan for each of thos components. So here's my bottom line: there is a war that needs to be fought, and its not a war overseas where we are killing people in the name of liberating them. It is a war right here at home where we need to convince people that morality demands full equality for gay people" (2004, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZyCZBpN1uU).
This is how the forces of the LGBT version of morality work within the government to undermine and overturn freedoms we have come to take for granted. As Shapiro puts it, they are at work pounding the battering ram against the roots of our civilization.
And who stands for religious liberty? The Seventh-day Adventist Church does. It is a very important portion of the work God has given us. Think about it: If Pastor A.T Jones had not worked so hard in the end of the 1800s, America might then have passed a Sunday law. The history of this country would have been fundamentally changed that is, it was fundamentally changed because Seventh-day Adventists stood up and reminded this nation of its Lamblike values. the dragon-like values in the religious liberty space at least were placed on hold.
This will not last. But while we are able we should remember and help others remember these baseline American and Christian values.
I want to conclude with an interesting passage showing that God gives religious liberty: Matthew 23:37-39.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!How often I would have gathered your childrne together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! see, your hoiuse is left to you desolate. Fo r I tell you, you will not see Me again until you say, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.
Chewelah WA SDA 2018-01-27