Anyone could have predicted it; many did. Government sanctioned persecution of Bible believing Christians escalated within hours of the Supreme Court decision mandating same sex marriage. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation was demanding the expulsion of military chaplains who profess Biblical attitudes toward human sexuality before day’s end. They are a fringe group, but numerous government officials have used words like “hate speech” in reference to Christians uncowed by a lawless Supreme Court or lawless bureaucrats. The narrative is that we may believe – and teach in church – whatever we like, but we may not trouble the general public with our thoughts.
Military leaders may find the MRFF antics laughable – for now – but there is nothing funny about ongoing efforts to railroad Chaplain Wes Modder out of the service for daring to counsel one of his charges on Biblical grounds. The pattern is always that the political victors claim to respect the right of the vanquished to dissent, but the (new) law of the land must be respected at all costs. That these same victors did not accept the law until it was on their side is strangely forgotten; let the games begin.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian has leveled a $135,000.00 fine – as he had threatened to do – against former bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein. Their crime? They declined to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple when gay marriage was still illegal in Oregon. The Kleins often served same sex couples, but explained – gently – that their religious convictions forbade them baking a wedding cake. This enraged the couple; they complained they were “hurt” to the Labor Commission, and this outrageous judgment is the outcome. The logic is identical to the Supreme Court decision handed down June 26.
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This case comes alongside the wedding photographer persecuted in Colorado and the grocers under assault in Washington State these past two years. All this comes before the Supreme Court decision on marriage discharges any inhibitions officials might have based on the 1st Amendment. The new order is: “Anyone hurting the feelings of a homosexual has violated the 14th Amendment and must be dealt with accordingly.”
These travesties of justice coincide with Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling, USMC, who was convicted by a military court of failing to obey a direct order when she refused to remove a Bible verse from her work station. Her commander and former drill instructor ordered it removed because he “did not like its tone.” When she cited her First Amendment rights and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, he tore it down and cursed her. Later, she was charged and convicted. The military court decided the display of a Bible verse was not a religious activity and therefore not protected by RFRA or the Bill of Rights. Her case lost on appeal and is now awaiting disposition at the US Supreme Court. Navy Chaplain Wesley Modder likewise awaits his day in court after his CO – following years of stellar fitness reports from this same officer – swore to remove him from the service for counseling a gay sailor in line with his (Modder’s) mandate from his church authority.
A more direct and immediate outcome of the Court’s decision is the case of Pennlive.com, one of the larger news gathering organizations based out of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Their board announced – within twenty-four hours of the SCOTUS ruling – that they would no longer accept opinion pieces or letters to the editor that did not support gay marriage.
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These persecuted people are all doing what Jesus calls us to do – acknowledging Him before men and expecting to be acknowledged before His Father. The five majority Justices of the Supreme Court in the Obergefell case – most of whom claim to be Christians – are doing what Jesus warned them not to do – refusing to acknowledge Him; they should expect to be denied before His Father. What about the rest of us? Will we acknowledge Him and His martyrs who cannot get even a fair trial on the basis of their guaranteed free exercise of their faith? Will we stand up to the bullies and demand the military and civilian authorities stop bullying their own most loyal members? Or will we decide it is too confusing and not really our problem?
It is our problem. In a government by the people, we do not always get what we want; but we always get what we deserve. And our God – famously quick to forgive in the face of repentance – is equally famous for failing to understand why we just could or would not do the right thing when tasked with it.
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