Posts Tagged ‘silencing Christians’

In Texas of all places, a few public school students sat down at an empty table in the lunchroom to quietly pray for a classmate who was in an accident. The school principal, Lee Frost, immediately walked over to them and warned them: “Don’t do that again.” It’s as if they just dropped f-bombs, looked at porn, vandalized something, or bullied another student.

But sadly, at plenty of schools – funded by our tax dollars – the environment isn’t exactly supportive or friendly to expressions of the Christian faith, the Bible, or the name of Jesus. Students shouldn’t be forced to go outside or pray in secret, especially when they’re on their own time. 

Jesus taught Christians to let their light shine before others so people might be drawn to Him. But the postmodern, progressive education system and liberal teachers today (not all, but most) have been on a collision course with the Bible and the Constitution.

The school principal went so far as to tell these eighth-grade students to hide behind the curtain on the school cafeteria stage if they prayed again during lunch. In other words, Christians should stay out of sight.

Lawyers with First Liberty Institute, representing Hannah Allen, one of the students, stated:

“By mandating that Hannah and the other students hide when they pray, Principal Frost sends a message to Hannah and all the other students in the school that prayer is illegitimate, disfavored, and should not occur in public; By quarantining the praying students as if to shield the other students form an infectious disease, Frost acts with religious hostility impermissible under the Constitution and demeans the religious beliefs of Hannah and her friends.”

It’s worse with each passing decade; there is less and less tolerance of the light of Christianity within the increasing darkness of the public school system. 

What would happen if a few Muslim students gathered in the same way and prayed? I think you know the answer to that. In fact, more schools across the country have openly allowed religious instruction on Islam while practically banning the Christian faith. 

In this Texas case, the offending prayer took place during lunch, not during class instruction time. Students are allowed to talk and move around the cafeteria. The problem is many children and parents don’t know their rights.

The Constitution hasn’t changed, even though some would love to rewrite it – just like today’s history text books have been rewritten. Fortunately in this nation, our speech is still protected by the First Amendment. 

This is perhaps a double-edged sword: on one hand, going back to the 1960s there has been an agenda to remove God from public schools and the culture. On the other hand, too many Christian leaders and parents have quietly backed out of culture, avoiding any controversial issue and choosing not to take a stand for the faith, the gospel, and for truth. 

When will we learn that if we do not use our precious religious freedoms, we’re in danger of losing them?

The Bible hasn’t changed and Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Let’s follow the example of the early church: after being threatened and told not to speak the name of Jesus, His disciples said, “We must obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29).”

Bold faith is contagious, and it stiffens the spines of other believers. Pray for these kids and young Christian students across the U.S. in government schools who are dealing with discrimination and intolerance. And let’s remember to be good examples of Christ (shine) and speak up ourselves.

*originally published at Freedom Project Media

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Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise appearance at the Watchmen on the Wall conference in our nation’s capital last week and implored pastors to share the good news of Jesus Christ. God bless him. But it’s what he said about the Johnson Amendment that we should peak our curiosity.

I don’t remember any president or vice president talking so openly and frequently about the Christian faith. Mike Pence boldly implored the people:

“Keep preaching the good news. Keep preaching in season and out of season as the Bible says. Always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that you have,” (2 Tim. 4:1-2, 1 Peter 3:15)

Pence also received a standing ovation when he emphasized the fact President Trump is the most pro-life president in American history.

Because the Trump administration is strong on religious liberty, it makes sense he mentioned the unconstitutional Johnson Amendment, which restricts religious leaders when it comes to talking about politics.

Mike Pence stated:

“We are going to fight until we fully repeal the Johnson Amendment from the Internal Revenue Code, but it will no longer be enforced under this administration,”

No longer enforced. What a statement! So, what exactly is the Johnson Amendment and is there really an agenda to silence Christians?

The Johnson Amendment was passed in 1954 by Congress as an amendment to section 501(c)(3) of the federal tax code… stating that entities that are exempt from federal income tax (such as non-profit groups) cannot “participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements) any political campaign on behalf of – or in opposition to – any candidate for public office.”

This flawed law paved the way for the growing censorship of conservatives, particularly when it comes to restrictions on what can be said during church services.

HOW IT HAPPENED

Then Texas Democrat, Lyndon B. Johnson, was a powerful liberal running for reelection as Senator, but two [conservative] tax-exempt groups were opposing him and passing out literature during the campaigns. He complained to the IRS but found what they were doing was perfectly legal, so he sought other options to fight them.

Johnson shrewdly appeared on the Senate floor on July 2, 1954, and offered his amendment to a pending, massive, tax code overhaul bill. Records indicate an absence of committee hearings on the bill. No legislative analysis took place to examine the effect the bill would have, particularly on churches and religious organizations.

The amendment was simply created to protect Johnson. Why this horrendous law has not been repealed yet is mind-boggling.

Sadly, due to confusion, hype, and misinformation about the Johnson Amendment, religious leaders in America have been unnecessarily self-censoring for decades! The Left uses it to bully Christian pastors and groups with threats of losing their nonprofit status, and they wrongly insist religious leaders must not speak about the Bible as it relates to political and social issues – which are moral issues!

As a result, freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion have been trampled on. A huge amount of people now think the Bible (church) has nothing to say about politics (state) and that it’s illegal for pastors to address candidates and where they stand in light of Scripture or church doctrines.

We need to understand something here: the IRS has never fined a pastor or church. In fact, every year thousands of Christian leaders across the country purposely talk about politics during church services on what is called Pulpit Freedom Sunday.

This of course won’t stop those bent on removing Christian influence from society. President Ronald Reagan once said:

“The Constitution was never meant to prevent people from praying. Its declared purpose was to protect their freedom to pray.”

The truth is every time a law is passed, someone’s morality is legislated. Government affects every one of us. Man’s greatest problem is sin and our greatest need is forgiveness, and have every right to speak the truth in love.

The annual Watchman on the Wall conference hosted by the Family Research Council operates under the belief that problems facing America and this world ultimately require a spiritual solution. This could not be truer because the good news of Jesus Christ is the power of God to salvation.

If our hope is in people, politics, or possessions, we will eventually wind up empty. If however, we place our trust in the only One who can forgive and save us, we will have an unshakable hope and a secure future inheritance.

Are we willing to speak the truth to this generation including what the Bible teaches about sin, repentance, and salvation through faith in Jesus?

The IRS is not a true threat nor is government the ultimate authority! Quite frankly, if a pastor is worried about his non-profit status or being fined, then who is he serving, Caesar or Christ?

For the rest of us, real Christianity cannot be confined behind the walls of any church.

Originally published at Freedom Project Media!

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You might call this troubling, concerning, disturbing or alarming, but to those who have studied the Bible and understand the times, this trend of silencing Christians is mostly disappointing.

We should not be surprised. 

On the other hand, though our culture and country seems to be heading for destruction at breakneck speed, believers know this means we are getting closer to more fulfilled prophecy and ultimately, the promised return of Jesus Christ.

One of the more eye-opening things I read this week was the fact that even with all the cases of discrimination against Christians in recent years from the public square to social media, many Americans do not support the basic religious freedom of Christians.

I’m sure you know many of the stories.

  • A Christian florist who had served homosexual customers on countless occasions refused to provide floral arrangements for a same-sex wedding, and she was sued by two homosexual activists. Baronelle Stutzman might lose everything. The Washington Supreme Court has punished her for peacefully operating her business consistently with her faith. 
  • Colorado baker, Jack Phillips, was sued for the same reason even though Phillips has also turned down cake requests for bachelor parties, anything profane, occult-related, violent, or perverse. In many states, bakers can refuse to write a Bible verse on a cake but are not allowed to decline to make a gay-wedding cake. This pivotal case is headed to the Supreme Court.
  • Christian geologist and believer in God as Creator, Andrew Snelling, was denied access and opportunity to study the Grand Canyon for three years until the National Park Service finally relented and accepted his application.
  • Donald Vander Boon’s meatpacking center in Michigan was targeted by the the federal government for having marriage brochures on the employee break room table. The Christian family proudly says on their website the company “seeks to glorify and honor God in all we do,” and were shocked to find out during a visit by the USDA that it wasn’t their beef that was being inspected — but their faith! The inspector took offense to the literature and told Don they’d call off the inspection if the material wasn’t removed. Within hours, he was threatened with the closure of his business.
  • An Ohio library banned a Christian group from meeting to discuss natural marriage unless the group also included supporters of same-sex marriage.
  • Christian farmers, Steve and Bridgett Tennes, were refused to participate in the East Lansing, MI farmer’s market because of their Christian beliefs. Country Mill Orchards was kicked out of the sellers group last August after a post on Steve’s Facebook page revealed his beliefs supporting natural, God-ordained marriage.

Both of them military veterans who understand the cost of religious freedom in America, Tennes stated,

“My wife and I both volunteered to serve in the military to protect freedom. Now we come home and the freedom that we worked to protect, we have to defend in our own backyard.”

…The U.S. Department of Education held a panel discussion on fatherhood and LGBT groups protested, demanding conservative viewpoints not even be allowed. 

If culture is downstream from the church, and politics (government and policy) is downstream from culture, it’s easy to see how this nation is no longer unified as one nation, under God, or indivisible. Why?

On a recent Stand Up for the Truth radio program, we discussed some dangerous and influential voices impacting the church. It is disappointing how many followers these people have. One example if you haven’t heard the latest, is Christian author, Jen Hatmaker. She not only endorses same-sex marriage, she now goes so far as to say (ready?) she believes gays and lesbians who are married should receive counseling from the Christian church – to strengthen their marriages if they want to be part of the Christian community.

She previously said same-sex relationships can be “holy,” after which her books were pulled from LifeWay Christian Store. More recently, Hatmaker said she dreams of a day when church is safe for the LGBT community. Okay, define ‘safe.’ 

When liberal Christians, the left, progressives, or the emergent church preach “unity,” what they often mean is uniformity. They are fine if we conform to their watering down the true gospel. They love the idea of diversity as long as we unite around their progressive worldview that distorts the truth and deity of Christ.

Since we are commanded to love our neighbor, do we love others enough to tell them the truth even when it is not popular?

In a Gospel Herald article on this topic, Rosaria Butterfield, a FORMER lesbian is quoted. Concerned that by affirming the gay community, Jen Hatmaker is damaging them, not helping them. Butterfield shares this story:

“A few years ago, I was speaking at a large church. An older woman waited until the end of the evening and approached me. She told me that she was 75 years old, that she had been married to a woman for 50 years, and that she and her partner had children and grandchildren. Then she said something chilling. In a hushed voice, she whispered, “I have heard the gospel, and I understand that I may lose everything. Why didn’t anyone tell me this before? Why did people I love not tell me that I would one day have to choose like this?”

That’s a good question. We cannot have it both ways with one foot in the world and one in the Bible. Everyone must choose for themselves.

God or man? Justification or judgment? Repentance or rebellion? Christ or culture? The questions remain.

Read the full post at DavidFiorazo.com

Robertsons praying

UPDATE: A&E has lifted their suspension of Phil Robertson – no surprise here. The Robertson’s released this statement to Fox News:

“The family is excited to keep making a quality TV show for our dedicated fans, who have showed us wonderful support. We will continue to represent our faith and values in the most positive way through Duck Dynasty and our many projects that we are currently working on. The outpouring of support and prayer has encouraged and emboldened us greatly.”

Much has been written regarding the fallout and many good points have been made. Most of us are tired of hearing about it however, this debate is way too important to dismiss.

I submit to you the biggest reason these public squabbles rarely get resolved: we now have a clear cultural, moral divide in America and both sides cannot coexist peacefully any longer. There is too much at stake.

Though I agree with Phil Robertson’s views of the Bible and sin, I wish he would have answered the question on homosexuality with more tact in the GQ interview. Regardless, what did we learn?

In one corner of the public battle are those that believe in the Bible as well as America’s founding principles of Christianity; in the other corner are those who not only oppose us, but claim they are offended (threatened) by the presence of practicing Christians. The minority has the loudest voices and the support of Hollywood, the mainstream media, and government. Because of this ungodly alliance, we sometimes think conservatives and people of faith are now outnumbered.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Less than 4 % of the U.S. population is LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender), and in a recent census of American citizens, less than 1% were verifiable same-sex couples. Moreover, about 73% of the media favor same-sex marriage while over 75% of Americans support Christianity.

This lopsided dichotomy was revealed a few years ago during the attempted intimidation of Chick-fil-A after the CEO had the audacity to say he runs his company on Christian values and believes in marriage between one man and one woman. Gay activist groups cried “hate” and after the intense, media-trumpeted backlash (bullying), millions of Americans supported Chick-fil-A by eating at their restaurants and rallying on social media.

You may also remember in 2009, Miss California, Carrie Prejean, was asked a question about legalizing same-sex marriage during the Miss USA competition. One of the judges, homosexual activist, Perez Hilton, viciously attacked Prejean and later admitted she would have won the Miss USA crown had she not answered the question in support of traditional marriage. What an interesting twist to ‘judge ye not.’

In the Duck Dynasty controversy, we again witnessed the political and public pressure by homosexual activists from GLAAD (Gay and Lesbians Alliance Against Defamation) and the Human Rights Campaign to not only force suspension of family patriarch Phil Robertson, but also insist he undergo sensitivity training and tolerance education.

Often ignored when discussing Robertson’s interview is the fact he also referred to many other sins even heterosexuals commit (1 Cor. 6:9-10). We all sin and fall short of God’s glory, and every one of us needs forgiveness. To Robertson, sin is sin no matter who you are, but opportunistic activists cried fowl.

The LGBT community claims it’s all about love and equality, but if you don’t agree with or approve of their lifestyle, they often resort to hateful attacks and refuse to permit speech that opposes homosexuality. This is totalitarian intolerance.

If we love someone, we’ll tell them the truth. If we believe Jesus is the only way to salvation (Acts 4:12) and we fail to warn others, we don’t really care about them. The way Christians demonstrate their love for non-believers is by addressing sin so they can repent and receive the grace God offers which leads to everlasting life (Ephesians 2:8).

One major issue at stake here is the First Amendment: Do all Americans, including Christian conservatives, still have legal speech protections or not? I purposely mention “conservatives” because there are far too many liberal Christians as well as those who profess Christianity and fail to accept the Bible’s authority or strive to live in obedience to its precepts. Some of these folks don’t think we should speak openly about our faith or quote certain Scriptures. Thanks to the emergent church, Christianity has been watered-down.

The foundational issue is whether or not the Bible is a divine source of inspiration and truly God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16). Are there moral absolutes or not? God’s truth never changes and cannot be altered or adapted to a compromising culture.

The reason sin has become such an explosive topic is many Christian and religious leaders don’t teach or preach the undiluted gospel – the whole counsel of God – as much as they used to and therefore, many Christians don’t talk about sin; especially homosexuality.

How selfish of us who believe the Bible if we don’t share with non-Christians the only good news that can save them! Ironically, sin is the reason God sent His only Son, Jesus, to be sacrificed for us. He was brutally tortured and crucified and we don’t talk about WHY He had to die? Sin separates all mankind from a holy God.

Did you know originally, A&E’s plan for Duck Dynasty was for viewers to laugh and mock a family of ‘backwards’ Christian rednecks? Instead the show became the most popular cable program in history averaging 14.6 million viewers. The very plan that backfired ended up making them millions. A&E knew what they were getting with the Robertson’s.

Sadly today in culture, evil is considered good and good is considered evil (Isaiah 5:20), and activists will no longer tolerate those who say their behavior is sinful. Some believe we’ve reached a tipping point.

As for the media in America, they freely give liberals a platform, but rarely report the whole story. For example, are they not being hypocritical by refusing to mention the intolerance of Islam toward both gays and Christians? Muslims hang homosexuals. They also burn Christians, and destroy their churches & villages; and gay activists are bent out of shape when someone warns them about their sinful behavior?

We cannot remain neutral any longer. The lines have been drawn in the sand. This present darkness is not about Duck Dynasty, A&E, the Robertsons or Hollywood. It’s not even political, it is spiritual and the battle has just intensified. Take up your positions or hide under a table.

Author Michael Brown suggests:

“Those of us who agree fundamentally with Robertson make clear that: 1) We are unashamed of our belief in Jesus and in biblical morality. 2) We stand against the mistreatment of all people, including gays and lesbians. 3) We will not support the radical redefinition of marriage, regardless of the cost involved, nor do we see cultural capitulation to gay activism as inevitable.”

This never would have been a debate 50 years ago, so what changed? God, or America? Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). We’ve reached the point where activists are forcing conformity and calling it tolerance. I believe this is good for a comfortable Christian church.

Know this: God is at work orchestrating events and warning us to understand the times.

The problem has been diagnosed. The moral decline in America is evidence we cannot rely on church leaders because people are obviously not getting the message. If Christians fail to speak about the Bible, Jesus Christ, and the issue of sin; our society will only grow worse, the battle more intense, and the hostility more volatile.

One thing is certain: silence never saved anybody.

David Fiorazo is the author of ERADICATE: BLOTTING OUT GOD IN AMERICA

Phil Robertson silenced