CROUSE: Obama committee’s slap in the face of religious liberty

Pastor’s withdrawal sets disturbing precedent for second term

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Last week, the Rev. Louie Giglio, pastor of Atlanta’s Passion City Church, was pressured to withdraw from giving the benediction at President Obama’s second inaugural ceremony. A liberal watchdog group uncovered a two-decades-old sermon in which Mr. Giglio preached a biblically-based message that homosexuality, like other sins, required repentance — and that, as with other sins, the power of Jesus Christ offered both healing and restoration, grace and mercy to the repentant. As theologian Al Mohler expressed so well on his blog, Mr. Giglio’s ministry is based on “undiluted biblical truth,” and his preaching on homosexuality has been “the consensus of the Church for more than 2,000 years, and is the firm belief held by the vast majority of Christians around the world today.”

By disinviting the clergyman announced as the choice for giving the second inaugural benediction, the inaugural committee established a beachhead of moral rebellion that prohibits the presence of representatives of Christian doctrine in the public square of America. This doctrine has been held by churches, ministers and priests across centuries and cultures. The controversy is not over the expression of those doctrines, but over the mere participation of clergy who hold to those long-established tenets of the faith — beliefs that are grounded in Scripture and in all established religions.

Mr. Giglio, who is also founder of the Passion rallies that attract upward of 60,000 young people in cities across America to hear the Gospel and contribute to anti-sex trafficking efforts, was not invited to present a sermon at the inaugural ceremony, nor was he there to promote or expound on Christian doctrine related to homosexuality. Moreover, Mr. Giglio’s views are not “new” or “radical.” Quite simply, they state established Christian doctrine: All have sinned, and Christ came to bring redemption for every sin. Russell D. Moore from “Moore to the Point” described the situation in a pithy summary:

“Notice that the problem is not that this evangelical wants to ‘impose his religion’ on the rest of society. The problem is not that he wants to exclude homosexuals or others from the public square or of their civil rights. The problem is that he won’t say that they can go to heaven without repentance. That’s not a civil issue, but a religious test of orthodoxy.”

By asking Mr. Giglio to step down, the inaugural committee has, in effect, apologized to the nation for inviting an evangelical who believes foundational Christian truth. In their official statement about Mr. Giglio’s withdrawal, officials wrote that the replacement person’s beliefs will “reflect this administration’s vision of inclusion and acceptance for all Americans.” Except, of course, those who disagree with the administration’s narrow view of “inclusion” and “acceptance of all Americans.” As Mr. Moore noted, we now have a “de facto established state church” that requires everyone to embrace “sexual liberation in all its forms” in order to enter the public square or participate in the public debate on these issues.

Now, like the thorough FBI background checks for security purposes of all potential high-profile political appointees, will anyone who participates in any way in a public event have to undergo a thorough background check for statements about the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community?

It is also important to note that Mr. Giglio is known for preaching the Gospel and is a man of “biblical conviction” in his sermons. He is not, nor has he ever been, a political activist. It is probably fair to say that, like many other evangelists, he has avoided addressing the social issues that would distract from his appeal to young people and “muddy the waters” of his evangelistic preaching. He “preaches for salvation,” and he has embraced the fight against sex trafficking — a highly popular cause among college students and the aspect of Mr. Giglio’s ministry that brought him to the attention of the inaugural committee.

This incident marks a major moral milestone for the United States. Indeed, as goes the United States, so goes the world on these cultural matters. The Obama administration has thrown down a gauntlet, declaring that anyone who espouses historic, biblical Christian teaching will be prohibited from participation in events in the public square, just as nativity scenes, Christmas trees, depictions of the Ten Commandments and other symbols of Christianity have previously been banned. The new standard was plainly stated by radical homosexual activist Wayne Besen of the leftist group Truth Wins Out. Mr. Besen was quoted in the New York Times, saying, “It would be a shame to select a preacher with backward views on LGBT people at a moment when the nation is rapidly moving forward on our issues.” Forward? Hardly. We’re moving backward to the debauched days of Imperial Rome.

As Christians, we cannot back down from our religious freedoms, nor can we betray our faith by watering down scripturally based Gospel. The path forward in the moral morass of today will require our discernment and total reliance on God’s guidance and grace.

As Mr. Mohler cogently expressed the challenge the faithful face: “While seeking to be gentle in spirit and ruthlessly Gospel-centered in speaking of any sin, we cannot cease to speak of sin as sin. To do so is not only to deny the authority of Scripture, not only to reject the moral consensus of the saints, but it undermines the Gospel itself. The Gospel makes no sense, and is robbed of its saving power, if sin is denied as sin.”

Janice Shaw Crouse is the executive director of Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute.

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