- Jihadists or New Atheists: Which the Bigger Threat to Religious Freedom?
- Jihadists or Atheists: Which the Bigger Threat to Religious Freedom? part 2
In part 1 we suggested that religious freedom is under assault by the new atheists. “Surrender your freedom of religion and conscience or we will crush you!”
Consider recent developments surrounding the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The response of the new orthodoxy, manifested by the LGBT lobby and their friends, was swift and powerful. Frank Bruni’s April 3 article in the Sunday Review of the New York Times is a case in point. Bruni is an openly homosexual journalist and op-ed writer for the Times. (The bold face type in the following excerpts from Bruni’s article represent my emphasis.)
… the continued view of gays, lesbians and bisexuals as sinners is a decision. It’s a choice. It prioritizes scattered passages of ancient texts over all that has been learned since — as if time had stood still, as if the advances of science and knowledge meant nothing.
For Bruni, the Bible is a man-made book that can easily conformed to the prevailing wisdom of the day. No sacred text can be allowed to challenge any chosen lifestyle of the LGBT community.
So our debate about religious freedom should include a conversation about freeing religions and religious people from prejudices that they needn’t cling to and can indeed jettison, much as they’ve jettisoned other aspects of their faith’s history, rightly bowing to the enlightenments of modernity.
This statement is breathtaking. He seeks to redefine freedom of religion as “freeing religions and religious people from prejudice.” Only theists are prejudiced. A-theists, on the other hand, are objective and rational.
Even more stunning, people of faith need to give up their faith and “rightly bow to the enlightenment of modernity.” Modernity is enlightened! Those who do not acknowledge modernity are stuck in the dark ages. What is their obligation? To rightly bow. To grovel before modern sensibilities.
Bruni is calling for nothing less than tyranny. He exposes arrogance behind the atheistic fundamentalists and their militant operatives in the LGBT community.
Creech and Mitchell Gold, a prominent furniture maker and gay philanthropist, founded an advocacy group, Faith in America, which aims to mitigate the damage done to L.G.B.T. people by what it calls “religion-based bigotry.”
Gold told me that church leaders must be made “to take homosexuality off the sin list.”
His commandment is worthy — and warranted. All of us, no matter our religious traditions, should know better than to tell gay people that they’re an offense. And that’s precisely what the florists and bakers who want to turn them away are saying to them.
“Church leaders must be made”? Their God-given freedom of religion, of conscience, of speech, must be purged? As writer Ana Marie Cox put it recently on MSNBC, talking about the Indiana RFRA story, “you’re going to have to force people to do things they don’t want to do.” What is this if not bullying and coercion?
As if to anticipate objection, Bruni doubles down. Gold’s “commandment” is both “warranted” and “worthy.” Really? On what grounds? On the grounds that the culture has shifted! Darwinian ideology breathes all through this post-modern world. Debate over truth is squashed. There’s no place for discussion. Arbitrary absolutes have been established among the elites of the Darwinian ideology. It’s time to bow down.
Some defend, not religious freedom, but freedom from religion
The baker Bruni is referencing, the individual giving such offense to the LGBT community, is Jack Phillips, who owns Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado. Ambassador Ken Blackwell picks up the story:
When [Phillips] declined two gay men’s order to bake a cake celebrating gay marriage (though the men were welcome to buy any of the premade cakes off the shelf), they officially complained that Mr. Phillips violated Colorado’s civil-rights law. A court ruled against him, ordering him and his employees to undergo government-approved “tolerance training,” and also ordering him to bake cakes celebrating gay marriage for anyone who asks. If he refuses, he can go to jail—put behind bars—for contempt of court. (Go here for more.)
In the 60s and 70s on campuses all over the US, students were demanding free speech. Today, the same demonstrators hold power in academia, communications, business and politics, and they are stifling free speech. The “anarchists” of the 60’s are the new tyrants of the early 21st century.
- You must tolerate our behaviors in the public square …
- You must affirm the rightness of our position …
- You must smother your conscience …
- You must surrender your freedom of religion and speech …
- You must submit to “tolerance training” (in Mao’s China they called the same thing “re-education camps”) …
- You must make wedding cakes on demand …
… or we will crush you.
An earlier generation of atheists accepted a level playing field. They supported religious freedom, believing their ideas could win the day in any fair exchange. Not so with today’s militant atheists. They do not want freedom of religion, they insist on freedom from religion (except their own secular religion). They want to fundamentally redefine the nation. They want their religion to dominate the market place of ideas. They want to exchange the pluralism established by Judeo-Christian revelation with a state-sponsored religion of Darwinian ideology.
Which brings us back to the global assault on religious freedom
Which brings us back to the beginning, i.e. the global assault on religious freedom. Militant secularists have some things in common with militant jihadists.
When the Prophet Mohammad lived in Mecca, he sought to persuade Christians and Jews to the correctness of his ideas. Failing that, he moved to Medina and adopted a strategy of forced conversions. Today’s atheists have “moved from Mecca to Medina.” They have shifted from persuasion through argument to coercion through threat and intimidation. Like jihadists, the new atheists are militant. They demand conversion to their ideology (dhimmi). Jihadists offer a third choice: death. Militant atheists offer, instead, prison and loss of business and property.
Will we bow or will we remain free? The choice is ours! The choice will be made in these moments, by this generation. Do you want your children to live free?
We should begin with prayer for our nation and its churches. But we must not stop there. We need to move from feeling good about our faith to thinking well of our faith. We need to begin to out think secular atheists. We need to challenge them in the realm of ideas and ideals by our words, attitudes and lives. And yes, we need the courage of “that baker” Jack Phillips and “that florist” Barronelle Stutzman who are willing to lose their business and property and go to jail to remain free.
Orthodox Christians who love Jesus and are committed to honoring him as Lord and King are waking up to a different world. They are finding themselves on someone’s “enemies” list. These opponents are seeking out ways to bring Christians to heel. This not a fight we wanted or sought. We didn’t look for it, yet it has come. How do we respond?
It’s tempting to ignore these realities, to go on with our lives as if they didn’t exist. But this new world will not go away. No, we must see this as an opportunity—an assignment—to put our faith into practice by “loving our enemies and praying for those that persecute us.” We must walk in Holy-Spirit empowered love in the face of hostility and hatred. Such love glorifies Christ and reveals Him in a powerful way. It is perhaps the most potent weapon we can wield.
Who are those people in your life whom you find yourself in conflict with over this issue? What can you do today to serve them and love them? Remember, the fundamental principle of militant Islam is “submit” or be crushed. The fundamental principle of Darwinian naturalism is “survival of the fittest.” The fundamental principle of Christ’s Kingdom is sacrificial service—to our neighbors, and even to our enemies. Our symbol is the cross of Christ.
- Darrow Miller
[ii] Quoted on page 6 of What if Jesus Had Never Been Born by Dr. James Kennedy
For a full treatment of these themes see my book – Emancipating the World: A Christian Response to Radical Islam and Fundamentalist Atheism.
See these related posts:
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM in America: Will it Survive?
Erosion of TRUTH: Could America Become a Source of Terror?
In Defense of Religious Freedom