I noted on Saturday that the Mayor of Louisville has overstepped by threatening to take down the license plate numbers of cars in church parking lots—even if citizens never leave their cars! His action is a violation of religious liberty that erodes trust. Sadly, it also squanders the community spirit that has led to the vast majority of churches suspending their in-person gatherings.
It seems to me that Michael Gerson has almost entirely misread the argument that Andrew Walker makes in a recent National Review column. Gerson writes: “Walker is making the following claim: If you think abortion is a matter of life or death, then you must support whoever opposes it most vigorously, even if he or she is an immoral lout.” Walker actually makes no such claim anywhere in his article. Walker is not offering an argument for voting for Trump. He’s offering a defense of religious pro-life voters who plan to vote for Trump.
Walker defends them because Trump-opponents like Gerson are often treating all Trump voters as if they are unreasonable moral retrogrades for their Trump support. If you don’t believe me, here is Gerson in his own words in another recent column: “Loyalty to Trump is making an older generation of evangelical Christians look like crude hypocrites in the eyes of their own children, who are fleeing the tradition in droves.” This undifferentiated condemnation is what Walker is trying to defend against. And let’s be honest, this condemnation is a regular refrain among progressives and the media. Continue Reading →
Christianity Today has a jaw-dropping cover-story arguing against tax-exempt status for churches. Paul Matzko of the Cato Institute authors the piece and concludes:
It might not be such a bad thing to lose tax-exempt status. We should consider, at the very least, the cost of maintaining this kind of cultural privilege. The true church of God, after all, is not reliant on its special status in the tax code. We can walk by faith and not by government largess. (p. 49)
It’s disappointing that this piece appears in a magazine of “evangelical conviction.” It’s a thesis that is way out of touch with rank-and-file evangelical attitudes about tax-exemption. Indeed, the effect of such a policy would be draconian for many churches and houses of worship.
Beto O’Rourke on religious institutions losing tax-exempt status for opposing same-sex marriage: “There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone … that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us” #EqualityTownHall pic.twitter.com/0ruxeIao8o
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) October 11, 2019
At CNN’s “Equality Town Hall,” Beto O’Rourke was asked if churches and other religious institutions should lose tax-exempt status for opposing same-sex marriage. Beto says in no uncertain terms that Christian churches should in fact lose their tax-exempt status unless they endorse gay marriage. This draconian assault on the first amendment is now the mainstream view within the Democratic party.
This is draconian because it could bankrupt many churches and religious institutions by dissuading contributions. Many churches would lose their property as a result of being unable to pay property taxes–especially in big cities. This is truly draconian and unconstitutional. Continue Reading →
If you aren’t familiar with Barronelle Stutzman’s case, you need to be (watch above). Barronelle is a 74-year old grandmother and florist who was sued by Washington State and by the ACLU after she declined to participate in a gay wedding. She serves gay people in her store. She has even hired gay people to work in her store. But she is a Christian and cannot in good conscience lend her talents to help celebrate a gay wedding. So when a gay man whom she had served for nine years in her store asked her to participate in his gay wedding, she told him that she could not because of her relationship with Jesus. She was apologetic, but she nevertheless did the right thing according to her Christian conscience.
Word got out on social media about what happened, and the government and the ACLU sued her for violating anti-discrimination law. Her case went all the way to the Supreme Court, and the court ruled in her favor, vacated the Washington State court’s decision, and ordered the State court to come up with a decision that respects the constitution. The state court refused to comply with the Supreme Court’s directive and ruled against her again! Now Barronelle is making an appeal (again!) to the Supreme Court for help.
The Tri-City Herald reports:
A Southern Baptist, [Barronelle] has argued that arranging flowers is artistic expression protected under the First Amendment.
“Barronelle serves and hires people from all walks of life. What she can’t do is take part in, or create custom floral arrangements celebrating, sacred events that violate her religious beliefs,” Kristen Waggoner, senior vice president of Alliance Defending Freedom’s U.S. legal division, said in a news release Wednesday.
“Because of this, the Washington Supreme Court upheld a ruling that threatens Barronelle with personal and professional ruin,” she added.
“Regardless of what one believes about marriage, no creative professional should be forced to create art or participate in a ceremony that violates their core convictions. That’s why we have taken Barronelle’s case back to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Progressives constantly gas light Christians and claim that we are crying wolf about being mistreated for our ancient beliefs about marriage and sexuality. The next time you hear them gas light us, I want you to remember Barronelle Stutzman. Both the state and the ACLU won’t leave her alone but are trying to ruin her financially unless she agrees to violate her religious convictions and to participate in gay weddings. It’s an abhorrent, ugly thing that they are doing to her. It’s hard to believe that this is still going on after all these years (and even after a Supreme Court ruling in her favor!), and yet here we are.
I hope the Supreme Court rules once and for all on the constitutional principle at stake in Barronelle’s case. This case is about more than her. It’s about all of us who believe what the Bible teaches about marriage. If the government can coerce her to violate her conscience, then they can do it to anyone. And that’s the issue.
Neil Shenvi is a scientist with a Ph.D. in theoretical chemistry from Berkley, but in recent years he has become a budding Christian apologist. He is a member of The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina (where JD Greear is pastor) and has been putting out some really insightful, accessible material critiquing critical theory and social justice.
At a conference earlier this year, he delivered a message titled “Critical Theory, Social Justice, and Christianity: Are They Compatible?” Shenvi shows that critical theory (along with its larger social justice project) is an alternative worldview that is incompatible with Christianity. It is really well done, thorough, and devastating to the claims of critical theory. Continue Reading →
Thanks to two Virginia politicians and the President’s state of the union address, the country has fixed its attention on the brutality of late-term abortion. Pro-choice advocates are responding as they usually do by trying to distract everyone from the reality of abortion:
Pro-choicer: “Nothing to see here, move along.”
Casual observer: “But that really seems like a small person being killed in an abortion.”
Pro-choicer: “You sound like you’re against women’s healthcare. And also, science.”
Casual observer: “But the baby…”
Pro-choicer: “Don’t you believe your lying eyes. It’s just a clump of cells… you know, because of science and stuff.”
The problem for pro-choicers is that the later the abortion occurs, the harder it is for them to succeed with the “clump of cells” evasion. Anyone with eyes can see what is happening, and the old dodges fall a little flat.
The recent focus on political leaders who support the right to kill unborn humans at any point up until birth (and in Northam’s case, perhaps even after birth) means that they are having to come up with new evasions—the silliest of which I just read this morning. According to Axios, these are “The Facts” about abortion that should mitigate your concern about late-term abortions:
• In an interview with CNN, Barbara Levy, the vice president of health policy at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said, “The phrase ‘late-term abortion,’ is medically inaccurate and has no clinical meaning.”
• Jennifer Conti, a fellow with the advocacy group Physicians for Reproductive Health, also told CNN: “In obstetrics, we don’t divide pregnancies into terms. ‘Late term’ is an invention of anti-abortion extremists to confuse, mislead and increase stigma.”
Did you catch the argument? It goes like this: Pro-lifers aren’t using the medically correct terms to describe late-term abortion. Therefore, you shouldn’t care that it’s legal to kill unborn human beings at any time up until the point of birth.
If that seems like a non-sequitur to you, that’s because it is. It is also one of the most pedantic and lame evasions that I have ever heard out of the pro-choice side. They are playing semantic games and hoping the casual observer will be too stupid to notice.
To all the casual observers of the abortion debate: Your eyes aren’t lying. Little people are killed in late-term abortions. Some people think it should be legal to kill those little people all the way up to the point of birth. Don’t let anyone distract you from that simple, central truth about abortion—especially those who think you are too stupid to know any better.
President Trump just finished his state of the union address moments ago. The speech was wide-ranging, but I have to say that his remarks about abortion were the most hard-hitting that I have ever heard in a state of the union address. He exposed the Democrats’ extremism on the issue by referencing their support for late-term abortion and (as in the case of the Governor of Virginia) their support for allowing some babies to die after birth.
Senator Ben Sasse just delivered an impassioned statement to the United States Senate. In it, he introduced a piece of legislation and appealed to Senators to come to the floor of the Senate to pass an “Abortion Survivors Protection Act.” This is a direct response the vile remarks made by the Governor of Virginia over the last two days. Here is a rush transcript of Senator Sasse’s statement: Continue Reading →
On the anniversary of D-Day in 1991, President George H. W. Bush delivered an address to the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Atlanta, Georgia (listen above at 4:47). The speech is fascinating on a number of levels, not least of which is the part where he praises Southern Baptist military chaplains who reported over 1,000 conversions among U.S. service members during Operation Desert Storm (8:26). Continue Reading →