“When a Government says, ‘you can’t sing that’, that’s a government in fear.” Dr. James White stated on the latest webcast of the Dividing Line. He was responding to the report that China has banned the singing of Handel’s “Messiah” outside places of worship. With the population of Christians growing at an astonishing rate, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) may have reason to be. The Desire to crackdown on certain songs may very well be a indication that the state recognizes that it is on the brink of seismic social change.
From missionaries preaching the Gospel in the 7th century, to the persecutions under Mao Zedeng, China’s relationship with Christianity is a long one. Yet, what’s grabbing the attention of so many isn’t necessarily the past, but China’s future. In 2014, The Telegraph reported that “…by 2030, China’s total Christian population, including Catholics, would exceed 247 million, placing it above Mexico, Brazil and the United States as the largest Christian congregation in the world.” Now, that number is expected to swell. As PJ Media reports in their piece:
“In 1980, there were approximately 10 million Christians there. In 2007, that number had climbed to 61.1 million. By 2030, they estimated, there will be 294.6 million Christians – nearly the entire population of the United States.”
The revelation that the officially atheist country is well on its way to becoming the largest Christian nation on earth has caused many state officials some degree of trepidation. The reason is that Christianity is thought to be a subversive religion. The issue for the government is the concern that Christianity could become an opposition political force which the West would manipulate to overthrow the communist government. In the words of President Xi Jinping, China must “…resolutely guard against overseas infiltration via religious means.”
In the past, that usually meant suppression of the Church. While Freedom of religion is explicitly written in the Chinese constitution, freedom of assembly is another issue. In fact, according to the Council of Foreign Relations,
“…2014 saw a spike in state repression against house and state-sanctioned churches alike, including a campaign to remove hundreds of rooftop crosses from churches. The government sentenced prominent Christian pastor Zhang Shaojie to twelve years in prison for ‘gathering crowds to disturb the public order.”
These days, those voices in favor of the CCP have said that the state is becoming more tolerant of Christian groups. However, the relationship between the dominant communist party and religion is a tenuous one. The CCP has tried to both discourage and even co-opt Christian groups in the form of the state-sanctioned “Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association” and the “Protestant Three-Self Patriotic Movement“.
The government keeps close tabs on those state-sanctioned churches, even installing cameras in the sanctuaries and monitoring pastors to make sure that they do not preach anything that the CCP would find questionable. As one pastor related to The Telegraph,
“…State churches often shunned potentially subversive sections of the Bible. The Old Testament book in which the exiled Daniel refuses to obey orders to worship the king rather than his own God is seen as very dangerous.”
For those who are suspicious of the CCP, that has lead to an explosion of underground or, House Churches. It’s estimated that nearly two-thirds of China’s Christians attend a House Church. Christianity Today published a wonderful article that stated while individual House Churches are much smaller than the state-sanctioned churches and out of the sight of the police, many assume that the government knows about them. They are often harassed and sometimes shut down. Yet, the Christian community is steadfast. The Telegraph quoted a pastor saying:
“They do not trust the church, but they have to tolerate or accept it because the growth is there. The number of Christians is growing – they cannot fight it. They do not want the 70 million Christians to be their enemy.”
It’s of little wonder then, that the Chinese Communist Party is cracking down on Handel’s ‘Messiah’ as they look headlong into a future where there will be an estimated 294.6 million Christians starring back at them, declaring with the lyrics:
“The kingdom of this world;
The kingdom of our Lord,
And of His Christ
And He shall reign forever and ever…”
Elizabeth Warren would never use faith to pander to the faithful, and other incredible myths
Earlier this month, the Boston Globe published an article touting the depth of Elizabeth Warren’s Christian faith. While I won’t question the genuineness of her faith (or lack thereof, whatever the case may be), I do however question the timing of the Globe’s release of the article. Far too often, politicians have used faith to pander to the faithful for votes. Legal Insurrection’s William A. Jacobson explores this point in his piece:
Why this sudden focus on Warren’s Christianity? I consider it the start of the Warren rebranding for 2020. While a lot of potential Democrat candidate names are mentioned, Warren is at the top. Running hard left will help Warren win the primary, but will hurt in the general election. She’s going to have to appeal to those God-fearing Christians Democrats have long mocked as bitter clingers and deplorables.
He may well have a point. Those who have their eyes on either 2018 or 2020 may well start laying the foundations of their campaigns in the here and now. The New York Times pointed out Warren’s robust fund raising in their piece:
Ms. Warren has built a formidable online fund-raising operation, which has brought in $5.1 million this year for her 2018 re-election campaign and allowed her political action committee to donate $270,000 to other Democrats. Yet she also has joined a parade of would-be Democratic presidential contenders who have paid visits to the wealthy summer enclaves that serve as A.T.M.s for the party’s candidates.“I think Elizabeth is laying the groundwork for a run. She won’t admit it, but it looks like that,”
I admit that it may well be mere coincidence that stories about Warren’s “deep faith” are coming out around the same time as the New York Times is publishing articles about her “formidable online fund-raising operation. However, call me a cynic, but I doubt it. “Rebranding” oneself in the political sphere as a “devout follower of Jesus” may be a great ploy to woo naive Christians into casting a ballot for them.
Sadly, the use of religion as a tactic to sway the votes of the faithful has been used since time immemorial and it seems to work; otherwise, politicians wouldn’t keep doing it. The fact of the matter is a large portion of the country still identifies as religious in some form. Roughly 80% (depending on what poll you refer to) of America still identifies as some sect of Christianity. Practically speaking, it’s smart for a politician to dust off “The Good Book” and wave it around as if they’ve been a true believer all their lives. Many politicians have been guilty of this. From Trump’s now iconic “Two Corinthians” speech to Hillary Clinton waxing poetic in regards to being a Methodist while also stating that religious people need to “change their beliefs.” This is a phenomenon that is found both on the left and the right ends of the political spectrum.
Using Faith As A Prop
During the past presidential election, I didn’t support either candidate from the two major political parties. However, as a small-L libertarian, I was drawn to then Libertarian candidate Austin Petersen. I remember sharing a video clip with then-presidential candidate Petersen to my Facebook with words of approval. A fellow Christian commented on the video by saying, “Be careful. He’s an atheist.” My response was essentially one of, “Who cares?” Frankly, I found Pertersen’s honesty refreshing. Instead of pandering to me for my support with lies about his “deep faith”, he frankly admits that while he doesn’t believe as I do, he’ll fight to uphold the constitution, which includes my religious freedom.
However, I feel as though there are many among the faithful who would prefer the comfort of empty professions of faith, rather than hear truth: many politicians who claim to have faith, really have no faith at all. To that point, Jacobson is right to state that “…there’s very little historical evidence of Warren’s ‘deep’ religious faith, other than in a political context.” To contrast her professions of Christianity, he rightly recalls that proof Warren’s claims of possessing Native American heritage remain obscure at best:
…weaving stories from people completely unrelated to Warren as to their own experiences with Native America family lore or growing up as Native American in the 1950’s and 1960’s with bits and pieces of Warren’s story. The end result is an attempt to paint Warren as a victim of circumstance and the times she grew up in, as a means of explaining away the many inconsistencies in her story.
Yet when one digs down into the actual facts in the Globe story, it actually is quite devastating to Warren, proving that contrary to her many recent accounts, Native American ancestry was not central to her life at any time prior to the mid-1980s when she claimed “Minority Law Teacher” status in a national law faculty directory.
The fact of the matter is, that many already see Warren’s truthfulness as questionable due to the sketchy circumstances regarding her supposed Native American heritage. People of “deep faith”, particularly the Christian faith, should never allow themselves to be put into a position where their integrity is questioned. As Philippians 1:27 states, “Whatever happens, conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. (NIV)” That includes honesty about one’s own heritage.
Putting Faith In Its Proper Place
Our faith should inform our politics, not the other way around. That is not to say that as followers of Jesus, we must completely remove ourselves from the political sphere. Dr. Vincent Bacote points out in his book, “The Political Disciple“:
“While it is vitally important to proclaim the gospel, introduce people to Jesus, and help them move toward faithful discipleship as they participate in church life, it is also tremendously important for Christians to see that it has always been our responsibility to care for the world, cultivating the flourishing of life through our activity in culture, politics, education, medicine, business and every public area.”
However, he reminds readers:
“Even if we live in a country like the United States that, as G.K. Chesterton suggested, in some way has ‘the soul of a church,’ our loyalty to country can never be confused with our prime allegiance to the tribune God with whom we are in covenant relationship. “
It’s important to remember that our politics shouldn’t overshadow the faith. Our faith must come first in all things. That being said, we should also practice better discernment. As 1 John 4:1 suggests, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (NIV)”. True, John was speaking of religious leaders, but I think that same healthy skepticism should and must be applied to our politicians.
Whether Elizabeth Warren is a woman “of deep faith” as the Boston Globe claims or not, I don’t pretend to know. People of religious faith should not simply take politicians at their word when it comes to professions of faith; but they should look closely at their voting records, their stance on various issues, and hold their feet to the fire should those same politicians fail to deliver.
Ultimately the question shouldn’t be why politicians continue to use faith to pander to religious voters, the question is: why do we as religious people keep falling for it? I only hope that one day the throngs of the faithful will stop buying into the empty words of politicians as they hollowly wave Christianity around for votes.
The ‘Rainbow Jihad’ is coming for you next, Christian
The LGBTQ and their Progressive allies were truly emboldened when Justice Kennedy handed down the majority decision to make Same Sex Marriage legal through the entire United States. Even before that decision, Denver based baker Jack Philips was visited by a gay couple in the summer of 2012 who wanted to hire Jack to bake them a wedding cake. Phillips offered to make cakes for other events and sell them cookies and brownies that allowed him to honor God and his Christian Faith, but had told them nicely “No” on the Same Sex Wedding Cake. The couple left the store throwing a temper tantrum like little children who were never punished for bad behavior.
What the news is saying:
If a bakery has a free speech right to discriminate, gay groups contend, then so do all businesses that may be said to engage in expression, including florists, photographers, tailors, choreographers, hair salons, restaurants, jewelers, architects and lawyers. A ruling for Mr. Phillips, they say, would amount to a broad mandate for discrimination.
Soon after; Phillip’s business, Masterpiece Cakes received threatening telephone calls from the “tolerant” progressives across the country, and protest movements against his business became the norm. Eventually the American Civil Liberties Union sued on behalf of this “loving gay couple” and was dragged before a human rights commission in Colorado, where they openly compared Philips to a Nazi. This, in spite of the fact that Jack’s father fought against the actual Nazis in World War II.
This is just one of many stories on how the “Rainbow Jihad” (as CRTV’s Steve Deace likes to call them) had become emboldened in recent years by progressive activists determined to pound the final nails into the casket containing “the rotting corpse of Christianity” using the LGBTQ and their quest for ‘civil rights.’ They know that a certain group of Christians will never accept the homosexual agenda due to the absolute words made in the Holy Bible regarding such acts and how God handle one such ancient community regarding this.
The Rainbow Jihad is hunting for businesses that will not bow and bend to their sub-culture; rather than seeking businesses that are truly LGBTQ friendly. You really have to wonder if they just wanted to set Jack Phillips up for persecution, and I think that was the plan all along. He is not alone. It does matter if you run a bakery, a restaurant, a flower shop or have your own photography business. If you call yourself a Christian and you dare not partake in this pagan event called same sex marriage with whatever business you have…you will be singled out and crucified for not justifying and affirming what they call ‘love’ and what God calls an abomination.
These Christians could always separate themselves from their faith and accept the LGBTQ’s demands and they get the gratification that they brought them over to the ‘dark side’ or whatever. Philips meanwhile will have his day in court and we shall find out how Neil Gorsuch rules on this. Religious Freedom must include the rights of business to refuse service to anyone who cause them to sin against their God.
For further reading:
In Key Supreme Court Case, Department of Justice Backs Christian Baker | Brian Fraga, ncregister.com
The U.S. Department of Justice’s amicus brief, filed Sept. 7 with the U.S. Supreme Court, argues that the baker, Jack Phillips, cannot be compelled by Colorado to “create expression for and participate in a ceremony” that would violate his First Amendment rights.
“This case is the only hope of protection for conservative believers in blue or purple states,” said Douglas Laycock, a University of Virginia School of Law professor who studies religious-liberty cases.
A coalition of creative professionals who style themselves “cake artists” filed an amicus brief at the Supreme Court Tuesday in a case concerning the rights of merchants who decline to produce items for same sex weddings given moral or theological objections.
The brief contains almost 40 images of various cakes, to demonstrate that cakes are a unique form of artistic expression deserving First Amendment protection. The petitioner in the case, Jack Phillips, argues his custom cakes are a form of protected expression, and therefore the state cannot coerce him into creating a cake that conveys a message with which he disagrees. Perhaps appropriately, the cake artists’ brief was filed by Baker Botts LLP.
On one side of the dispute stands Jack Phillips—a Christian baker in Colorado who five years ago refused to craft a wedding cake to celebrate a same-sex marriage. “I’m being forced to use my creativity, my talent and my art for an event—a significant religious event—that violates my religious faith,” Mr. Phillips said, according to the Times. To Philips, this is “more than just a cake.”
Opposite Phillips are David Mullin and Charlie Craig, the two men who sought out his services and who later filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. “We asked for a cake,” they counter. “We didn’t ask for a piece of art or for him to make a statement for us. He simply turned us away because of who we are.” According to the Times, “Mr. Craig said the free speech argument was a smoke screen. ‘It’s not about the cake,’ he said. ‘It is about discrimination.’”
So which is it? Free speech or discrimination?
A ‘wrong-thinker’ can feed his family, right?
Do you have a right to participate in the American marketplace, a right to feed your own family?
Some people say, “No.”
On Friday, a farming family in Michigan celebrated a small victory. Federal judge Paul L. Maloney granted a preliminary injunction barring the city of East Lansing from prohibiting the Tennes family of Country Hill Farm from participating in their annual Farmer’s Market. “On the evidence before this Court, the City amended its Vendor Guidelines and then used the changes to deny Country Mill’s vendor application. There exists a substantial likelihood that Plaintiffs will be able to prevail on the merits of their claims for speech retaliation and for free exercise of religion,” stated the judge.
The case has been summarized nicely by the Arizona Daily Independent:
At issue is an unconstitutional, unlawful, and complex policy that city officials adopted specifically to shut out Tennes and Country Mills Farms, his family’s fruit orchard, purely because he posted on Facebook his belief in biblical marriage. The city did this even though Tennes, his family, and the orchard are in Charlotte, 22 miles from East Lansing, well outside the city’s boundaries and beyond its jurisdiction.
After seeing Tennes’ Facebook post from August 2016, city officials took several actions to drive him out of the market. First, they told him they did not want Country Mill Farms at the next scheduled market, and they warned him that protests could occur if his farm continued to participate. Tennes, a military veteran, decided to continue to serve his customers at the market. No one protested. That did not change city officials’ resolve that Tennes could no longer participate in the market due to his statement of his religious beliefs.
For the first time in six years, when applications opened for the 2017 farmer’s market, the city did not invite Tennes to participate in the market. City officials also changed the application process for Country Mill Farms only, removing Tennes’ vendor application from the normal committee review process and reviewing it directly instead. Since Tennes and Country Mill Farms did not violate any law while at the market or in Charlotte, the officials crafted a new vendor policy that extended the city’s Human Relations Ordinance, bypassing jurisdictional limits under Michigan law, to expel Tennes from the market.
East Lansing’s Mayor, Mark Meadows, has maintained his stance against allowing Country Mills Farm the ability to participate in America’s economy via the selling of fruit at the Farmer’s Market within city limits, stating “They can say whatever they want, but their corporation needs to act in a certain way to qualify to sell products at the East Lansing Farmer’s Market on publicly owned land.” The mayor seems to have forgotten that observant Christians are taxpaying members of the American public and, as such, have equal access to publicly-owned land. Though it appears that the only criminal and unconstitutional act committed in this case was committed not by the Tennes family, but by the city officials of East Lansing, the city is still considering an appeal to block the judge’s injunction.
There is no social justice to be gained though depraved ostracization. Instead, one only finds anger, hate, and revenge… a sinister soup for the impotent and ignoble.
In the meantime, many will claim this small victory to be a win for religious freedom; others will claim it as a win for free speech rights. As a new report details, religious freedom has come under increasing attack in recent years, and free speech is, based on recent events, quite evidently no longer widely regarded as sacred. However, what this temporary injunction truly amounts to is a win for all of us in our efforts to feed our own families: a win for all Americans’ right to participate in the marketplace.
This win doesn’t come without a cost. While the Tennes family has finally been allowed to participate in the East Lansing Farmer’s Market, the family has already missed approximately 3 ½ months of marketplace participation, with only 6 short weeks left before the season ends. There will no doubt be an economic toll on this family due to 3 ½ months of sitting on the side lines. Yet, some of the very people who extoll diversity and equality or some of the people who condemn poverty and hunger will remain opposed to the Tenneses’ ability to sell fruit- to feed and to provide for their family.
No, the Tennes family does not think “right.” For many of the very people lecturing the rest of America about tolerance, the Tenneses simply think “wrong.” They hold the “wrong” opinions, they speak the wrong words in the public forum, and they subscribe to the “wrong” faith. Therefore, this family and their business should be shunned from the economy, prohibited from making a living through participation in the marketplace, and, most of all, absolutely forbidden from pursuing the American Dream.
Constitutional rights? – Never heard of them.
Human rights? – You aren’t really human anyways.
For this very reason, the small victory in the case of the Tennes family is actually a large victory for us all. There is no nobleness to be found in depriving a family their right to earn a living. There is no honor to be found in petty vengeance. There is no justification for imposing poverty on a farming family in Michigan for “wrong think.” There is no social justice to be gained though depraved ostracization. Instead, one only finds anger, hate, and revenge… a sinister soup for the impotent and ignoble.
“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.” ~ Leviticus 19:18
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