- - Monday, July 6, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Even in Bible Belt Texas, this Fourth of July felt different. Our congregation prayed for guidance about the Supreme Court decision effectively enshrining homosexuality as the nation’s newest civil right. So while “American the Beautiful” still sounded the same, its lyrics now raised new questions. Would God still shed His grace on a nation apparently intent on rejecting its religious heritage? In their dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito even warned that traditional religion might be assaulted by “a new orthodoxy…determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.”

So if the battle over gay marriage was lost by a 5-4 vote, then has the war for America’s religious freedom now begun?

Strictly speaking, that war began in 1973, when an earlier Supreme Court discovered the new civil right of abortion, now a Democratic Sacrament. But just as the Dred Scott decision foreshadowed the Civil War, Roe v Wade ushered in the Holocaust of the Unborn, our greatest national sin since slavery. Then as now, American citizens are free to disregard Biblical teachings our Founders once considered as the bedrock of our liberties.

But it requires both appalling hubris and a pathological contempt for history to imagine that Americans can escape the consequences of shedding an entire generation of innocent blood. Lincoln invoked that same burden of history in his Second Inaugural: “Yet, if God wills that (the Civil War) continue…until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword…so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

God’s judgment, or even the idea that consequences flow from actions, are only distant thunder to younger Americans whose beliefs often center around a resolute sense of self. Writing for TIME magazine, conservative author Rod Dreher offered a particularly glum assessment: “…we really are living in a culturally post-Christian nation…To be frank, the court majority may impose on the rest of the nation a view widely shared by elites, but it is also a view shared by a majority of Americans. There will be no widespread popular resistance…This is the new normal.”

Not surprisingly, David Brooks, conscience-keeper of the New York Times, goes even farther, arguing that a broad Christian decline is under way: “Members of the millennial generation are detaching themselves from religious institutions in droves….More and more Christians feel estranged from mainstream culture. They fear they will soon be treated as social pariahs, the moral equivalent of segregationists because of their adherence to scriptural teaching on gay marriage.”

To prop up the Christian faithful, Mr. Brooks helpfully suggests that strict adherence to Biblical teachings and social conservatism be replaced by social work, “more Salvation Army than Moral Majority.” Why with any luck, Bible reading could be limited to Christmas stories and a few well-chosen psalms recited at Hillary’s inauguration.

If the long war for American religious liberties is really beginning, then where and how should Christians stand up for their faith?

Vote! If you want to change Supreme Court rulings, then you need to change the Supreme Court itself, including future presidents who will select its Justices and the senators who will confirm them. Yet is an ongoing scandal that many evangelical voters – maybe even a majority - do not even show up at the polls on Election Day.

The nation’s pastors must now re-emphasize that voting has always been a core responsibility of every Christian citizen: But more so now than ever. Educate the faithful.  A closely related point is that many churches are used to being comfortably non-controversial. Many fail to take advantage of their legal right to educate their members about candidates and issues on the public agenda. While the church should remain separate from the state, it is heresy for the pulpit to remain silent when the nation’s religious liberties are being threatened.

The past is not prologue! Even as the LGBT community and the Obama White House celebrate, the seeds of their reversal are being sewn. As David French pointed out in a recent speech at Hillsdale College, “Simply put, the sexual revolution questions everything about sexual morality and identity (threatening) traditional sexual morality and…orthodox Christian theology.”

Those growing controversies will inevitably spawn greater opportunities, assuming that Christians can find their voices.Oppression always promotes Christian growth! David French concluded his speech: “Christianity has survived lions. It is surviving beheadings. It can certainly withstand Twitter.” If you doubt that, then remember how Coptic Christians stirred the conscience of Egypt as it suffered under Muslim Brotherhood tyranny in 2013. Their simple but supremely powerful principle: “Love Never Fails.” True enough, there and here.

Ken Allard, a retired Army colonel, is a military analyst and author on national-security issues.

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