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Culture and Religion

Religious freedoms from practical, political, and Biblical perspectives

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Religious freedoms from practical political and Biblical perspectives

The topic of religious freedoms in the United States and other countries is hot. Perhaps it always will be. As Christians, we often find ourselves fighting from multiple perspectives and against multiple fronts. The preservation of religious freedoms holds importance to those of the faith and must be understood for what it truly is.

Let’s take a look at the religious liberties debate from the three standard fronts: practically, politically, and Biblically.

Practical religious liberties

The foundation of the United States was built on religious liberties. While some will debate whether that meant Christian liberties based upon the initial desire to escape the church rule and persecutions in Europe or if they truly meant full liberties for all, the reality of today is that religious liberties cover every true religion. By “true” religion, I’m not saying that religious liberties should only cover Christianity. I’m referring to those who have pure beliefs, right or wrong, while excluding those who have created a false religion for the sake of a political statement. In other words, I’m not a fan of extending religious liberties to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster because it was created to make a statement and not because of true belief.

It is within this foundation that we have to act practically. Any attempts to betray this foundation will invariably turn around and haunt us. If we believe in religious liberties to allow us to practice our Christian faith how we are taught, then to take away the liberties of other religions will hurt our own cause.

There are limits. The expansion of Sharia Law, for example, goes against our Constitution and is therefore fair play to prohibit. This applies to those who have religious beliefs that are perversions of the Bible; just because someone claims to be doing something evil, illegal, or unconstitutional in the name of Jesus Christ doesn’t make it defensible. If a church kills someone during the practice of an exorcism, they should be held accountable and should not be able to hide behind religious liberties.

A 2016 poll showed that the majority of Americans believe in defending religious liberties, but that there was a divide about whether those liberties extended to all religions or just Christians. One can look to the Constitution to determine that this is unacceptable and one can look to the Bible to demonstrate that it is acceptable. We’ll cover both of those shortly, but from a purely practical perspective it behooves Christians to defend the religious liberties of all true religions. Once we start separating out when religious liberties apply and when they do not, we walk down a path that will lead to our own liberties being taken away.

Political religious liberties

As we noted, the Constitution is clear about how religious liberties are to be guaranteed. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Christian, a Catholic, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Jew, or any of the other religions. The Constitution grants you the right to practice your religion how you see fit as long as doing so does not break the law.

This is where we see the crux of the matter. The 1st Amendment is being attacked through politics, but it’s also being attack through laws that try to limit the freedoms by representing themselves as other freedoms. We saw it in play in Oregon where the owner of Sweet Cakes was being held accountable for following their faith.

From a purely political perspective, religious freedoms are under attack. It isn’t just the left that is attacking. Religious liberties are being attacked from the right, though it’s not being done so directly against Christians. This is a dangerous path. Once one religion is stripped of a liberty, all other religions will follow. At that point, the Constitution and the desire for fairness will supersede the common sense of the threats from other religions as compared to the threats from Christians and Jews.

Now, more than ever, we must vote with the Bible in mind. We’ve seen what can happen with eight years of a President who doesn’t hold the Bible in the highest regard. One could say that this trend has been building for decades and that President Obama is simply the culmination. This is why we’re adamant about the need for strong Evangelical Christians in Washington DC.

Biblical religious liberties

There are those who will point to the Bible and declare it as a reason to attack those of other religions. Some would say that as a Judeo-Christian country, we should extend religious liberties only to those who follow the path that we follow. This is problematic from a practical and political perspective, but it’s also problematic from a Biblical perspective.

We could go back and forth quoting Deuteronomy 12:29-31, 1 Corinthians 8:5-6, or any other number of verses that are intended to make us feel like we should have an exclusive religion that allows no room for others in our country, but that misses the point of the entire Gospel. Our goal should be to spread the Word of God to all who would listen. We’ve all heard stories about people of other faiths who were brought to worship the one true God based upon experience or outreach. These stories should be the foundation of an understanding that it’s not ours to know why certain people cross our path. Remember, for some, we as individuals may represent the first time they ever get to experience a Biblical perspective. We may be the only representation of the Bible that they get to see.

I always like to turn to the end of the Book of Matthew as a reminder that we are to spread the Word:

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

– Matthew 28:19-20 (KJV)

Going forth does not necessarily mean having to go on mission trips overseas, though that is an important aspect of this. There are plenty that can be taught here and some of them want to be taught the Word of God. Religious liberties must be protected to allow this to continue, for conversions to happen, and for the Word of God to spread with limited intervention from the government.

As Americans place religious liberties at the top of their list as influences, we must always remember the more freedoms we all have, the better it will be for everyone. If we believe in the Bible, we must trust that it will overcome all other teachings.

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Culture and Religion

Sometimes it’s the little wrongs that stick

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Sometimes its the little wrongs that stick

I was a pretty cocky kid.

It’s something that I get to hear a lot lately, especially when connecting with old friends from high school and college. I remember thinking that I wouldn’t be that guy, the one who looks back while on the second half of a standard life and calls himself stupid, but that’s exactly what I’ve started doing. I was a cocky, stupid kid.

There are several instances that I can recall that had an effect on the way that I grew and would eventually point me to dedicate my life to Christ. One of those events was very small, so small that the person I “wronged” likely doesn’t even remember the incident.

I was managing a steak house in Oklahoma City. I was the youngest of the managers of what was supposed to be a summer job and ended up supporting my young family for three years. I was cocky (and did I mention I was stupid as well?) and took pride in my ability to diffuse situations. It wasn’t a fancy steak house. In fact, it was a two-story, 550-seat monster that served hundreds of steaks every night.

One particular evening I was helping one of the servers by taking the order. It was a special day for the patriarch of the family and they were celebrating – what exactly I don’t recall or perhaps never knew. The special day man had one important request – no Texas toast. His wife (or daughter, couldn’t tell for sure) said that he was extremely allergic to anything that had bread and I assured her that no bread would touch his plate. I plugged in the order, put the special instructions in all caps (NO BREAD NO BREAD NO BREAD) and went on to see to the hundreds of other guests as well as the staff.

I was walking by the table, just checking in, when the food came. Time went into slow-motion mode as the plate was put down in front of him with a big, buttery piece of Texas toast right smack dab on his 14 oz. ribeye. The look on the wife/daughter’s face has always stuck with me. It was pure disappointment, shock, and even a little bit of fear all flashing before me in technicolor slow motion.

Instantly, I reached down and grabbed the plate, but the man grabbed my arm. His fury was clear. I told him that I would get him a new steak, but refused to let go. He wanted to keep that steak hostage to make certain that we didn’t just take it to the back, pull of the bread, and serve him the same steak. I assured him that we wouldn’t do that but he was firm. He didn’t believe me and that made me mad.

In the same situation today, I wouldn’t have tried to take the steak back. In fact, I would have left one more instruction on the ticket – “Page ME for delivery”. I would have made certain that the bread didn’t go on his plate. Instead, I allowed myself to get angry. I took it out on the staff that couldn’t read instructions. I took it out on the table that had a special occasion ruined. I didn’t even comp the meal because of my petty, stupid, cocky anger.

For all I know, they never thought about it again. For all I know, the man was emotionally unstable and hurt someone that night due to my mistakes. His grip was very strong, the type of grip that one can’t get by working out. It only comes from working through life with your hands.

It’s the fear in the wife/daughter’s eyes that I’ve never been able to shake for two decades. Mad – understandable. Disappointed – who wouldn’t be? Fear – that’s something that was distinct. She wasn’t looking at me. She was looking at him. She was waiting for his response. I don’t recall if I truly saw it out of the corner of my eye or if it has emerged through my imagination over the years, but I think she even looked up at me with a subtle, desperate shake of her head as I tried to pry the plate from his grip as if she was warning me that this many might kill me over the mistake.

We never know the effects of our actions. We don’t know what little thing we might do that causes someone to snap, something bad to happen, or something life-changing that could have been avoided by being a little less stupid, a little less cocky, and a lot more like a believer in Jesus Christ should act.

I never had the chance to apologize properly to the family. Maybe that’s why it stuck with me for all of these years. The slow motion look of mixed, terrible emotions – I pray that my little act of defiance didn’t cause pain to anyone.

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Culture and Religion

Do not presume to know if someone is saved, even if they’re pro-abortion pastors

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Do not presume to know if someone is saved even if theyre pro-abortion pastors

This could very easily turn into a discussion about Arminianism versus Calvinism, but that’s a topic I’m still not ready to tackle on this site. One thing I will tackle is the presumptive nature that guides many people to make calls about who is a Christian and who’s a false-Christian as if they’re baseball umpires calling balls or strikes.

It’s something I’ve faced on literally hundreds if not thousands of occasions over the years. People will read my bio on the various social networks, then use my proclamation of being a Christian to call out my posts. Heck, it happened twice today on a reply I sent to Kamala Harris on Twitter that had absolutely nothing to do with faith. I’ve grown used to it, and I try my hardest to never let it get to me on a personal level. I’ve found that many who call me out for a Tweet or Facebook post are simply disagreeing with the content and trying to shame me by saying it’s not very Christian-like. This is a common tactic, folks, so be mindful of it if you face similar complaints.

But today I’d like to discuss a similar situation. Should Christians call out other’s who profess to be Christians based on actions or perspectives that are clearly non-Biblical? The answer to this question, in my humble opinion, is yes and no. Yes, I believe it behooves us as Bible-believers to call out the actions of others, particularly if they profess to be Christians. No, I do not believe we should be claiming people are not Christians because of their misguided beliefs or actions. That’s a call that’s way above our pay grade.

For example, there was a lot of controversy over a letter by 150 Christian leaders who support a pro-choice stance. As most Christians know, abortion is not a Biblical practice and is spoken against in the Bible itself. We should definitely be calling on those who are supportive of abortion and who also profess their faith, but we shouldn’t be telling them they’re going to burn in hell over their perspective, that they have no Grace, or that they’re not really Christians. I said it before and I can’t really say it enough – such things are above our pay grade.

We know from the Bible what God disapproves of, but we are not capable of known WHO God approves of, as in who He considers to be saved as a Christian. When we tell people who believe they are saved that they’re actually not saved because they believe in abortion, we’re presuming to know God’s Will on such matters. We do not.

If we want to call out the sin, that’s proper. If we’re telling a sinner they’re condemned to hell because of their sin, it’s like taking on the role of passing eternal judgment. That is not our calling. Mind your tongues, folks. God does.

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Culture and Religion

Michael J. Knowles on the reality of ‘white privilege’ and intersectionality

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Michael J Knowles on the reality of white privilege and intersectionality

There’s a strange contradiction that’s been essentially taking over the mentality of many leftists for some time now. The contradiction has to do with bigotry and is framed around the concept of “white privilege.”

If you’re white, you instantly have privilege in their eyes. If you also happen to be a straight male, you really, really have privilege. This characterization by the left does two things. It paints those who are straight male Caucasians as not being capable of experiencing the types of hardships experienced by others and it forces anyone who is not a straight male Caucasian to embrace their victimhood if they’re going to be part of the leftist tribe.

This is, of course, all ludicrous. White privilege is a myth in today’s America. There are enough safeguards to protect those who aren’t straight white males from persecuting the rest of us, and those safeguards have been working. But that’s not enough for the left. They aren’t looking for equality. They want the status they place on people of having “white privilege” to work against them.

Michael J. Knowles and Andrew Klavan from the DailyWire took to Texas A&M to discuss some of the challenges leftists force onto people, particularly at college campuses in America. The event, hosted by YAF, yielded an extremely interesting series of discussions. You can watch the whole event here.

Knowles was asked about “white privilege” and gave a thoughtful response. Here’s one important quote from his answer:

“Ironically what this ideology does is it turns privilege into victimhood and it turns victimhood into privilege, and that’s the upside down world of the left, and it’s why they go after you on immutable characteristics such as the color of your skin and your biology and your chromosomes.”

Will there ever come a time when the left is willing to look past our gender, religion, sexual preference, or the color of our skin and simply see people as who they are? The way things are going, it doesn’t seem like it.

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