Are We Losing Our Religious Freedom In America?

April 4th, 2014

This week on ‘The Hal Lindsey Report’

In February, the state of Arizona was the target of threats from major corporations, national civic and service organizations, even the National Football League. All because of a piece of legislation the Arizona legislature had passed.

Before Governor Jan Brewer finally vetoed the bill, she was even urged to do so by such “conservative” luminaries as Mitt Romney and John McCain.

What on earth caused all the ruckus? Why did the NFL threaten to withdraw next year’s Super Bowl from Phoenix? Did Arizona’s legislators legalize human trafficking? Maybe they approved euthanasia of all persons over 65? Did they propose seceding from the Union?

Not quite. The Arizona legislature simply passed a state version of a federal act that had been signed into law in 1993 by Bill Clinton after it had passed the House unanimously and the Senate by a vote of 97-3.

The federal law was called “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” So was the Arizona version.

Essentially, it said that government could not pass laws or institute regulations that caused an undue burden on a person’s free exercise of religion (unless there was an unusually “compelling” government interest in doing so).

Its intent was to prevent various “rights activists” from using existing laws or extra-legislative regulations to force individuals to act in ways that conflicted with their religious beliefs.

Of course, most of us grew up believing that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution did that. Apparently we were either misinformed or the Constitution has been so mangled by those who despise it that it’s no longer legible.

The Arizona legislators felt compelled to address the situation that has been caused of late by LGBT activists who have been demanding that photographers, florists, bakers, caterers, hospitality establishments, even churches that oppose same-sex marriage be required to service their “weddings” even though it conflicts with the religious beliefs and convictions of the service providers.

Apparently the days of business owners being able to say, “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” are just a memory.

You’ll recall the situation of the young photographer in New Mexico who politely declined to accept a job to photograph a lesbian “commitment ceremony” because of her religious convictions. The New Mexico Human Rights Commission found her in violation of anti-discrimination laws and ordered her to pay several thousand dollars in penalties. Later, the New Mexico Supreme Court upheld that decision.

(As an interesting and infuriating aside, it was revealed recently that a New Mexico hairdresser had refused to style the hair of New Mexico’s governor Susana Martinez because Governor Martinez opposed same-sex marriage. I’m guessing it’s not exactly a two-way street, is it?)

So the proposed Arizona law that would further protect the exercise of religious freedom by its citizens — for which the First Amendment should be sufficient but apparently isn’t — never saw the light of day.

By the way, while I’m on the subject, I recently heard someone in the Mainstream Media pull out that old canard that the Right wants to “legislate morality.” Is that so bad? The Left is frantically legislating immorality, and we can all see how that’s working out!

Speaking of pushing immorality, last week Raymond Cardinal Burke, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Vatican City State, caused quite a stir. He told a Polish magazine, “The president of the United States has become progressively more hostile toward Christian civilization. He appears to be a totally secularized man who aggressively promotes anti-life and anti-family policies.”

Talk about hitting the nail on its head. But the Cardinal wasn’t finished. He went on to warn that, “Now he wants to restrict the exercise of freedom of religion to freedom of worship.”

Folks, that’s a crucial distinction. Be wary when you hear our government officials confirm that our “freedom of worship” is and will continue to be a cherished right here in America. “Freedom of worship” is not the same as “freedom of religion.” Cardinal Burke went on to explain, “[Obama] holds that one is free to act according to his conscience within the confines of his place of worship but that, once the person leaves the place of worship, the government can constrain him to act against his rightly-formed conscience, even in the most serious of moral questions.”

All I can add to that is, “Bingo!”

Even now in the United Kingdom, Christians are told they can pray and worship as they wish at their church or synagogue. However, in the workplace and in public, you must keep your religion and your faith to yourself. And that’s under penalty of law in some cases. Of course, if you’re a Muslim, just go ahead and do what you will. But that’s another story.

Most of the Cardinal’s critics have dismissed his comments as a typical Catholic reaction to the Affordable Healthcare Act’s provisions mandating birth control. But he was speaking truth. And if more of us don’t start speaking up and speaking out, everything he warns about will take root and someday soon we’ll only be able to publicly share the Gospel under threat of prosecution and imprisonment.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record (Sorry, if you’re under 40 you probably don’t know what that reference means!), persecution and prosecution are inevitably headed our way. Even now, in some of the “enlightened” Western nations, it is against the law to preach what the Bible says about the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of family, the sanctity of life, or the sanctity of Christ’s sacrifice. In Canada and Sweden, pastors have been fined and even sent to “re-education” classes for pushing the claims of Christ in these matters.

The speed with which these changes are occurring tells us one thing — Jesus Christ’s coming for His blood-bought Church is right around the corner. Let the nearness of His coming inspire us to live uncompromising Christian lives; encourage us to spread the Gospel with urgency; and persuade us to “lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us….” (Hebrews 12:1) The time to prepare is now. After He comes, it will be too late.

Don’t miss this week’s Report on Daystar, CPM Network, The Word Network, the stations of the CET Network, various local stations, or Check your local listings. Sorry, no TBN this week. It’s Spring Praise-A-Thon. We’ll be back on TBN next week at our regular time.
God Bless,
Hal Lindsey
mail: HLMM, P.O. Box 470470, Tulsa, OK 74147


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