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February 5, 2021

Religious Liberty for Popular and Sound Ideas

Our freedom isn’t just to protect the fringe, but mainstream people and policies.

A decades-long cultural revolution has torn the American fabric, and Christian conservatives have largely accepted this reality as long as they’re able to worship freely. But remaining silent isn’t going to save the country or protect our faith.

As religious liberty expert Ryan T. Anderson writes in The Wall Street Journal, “As the Biden administration advances a divisive and extreme social agenda, our response can’t simply be a polite request to be left alone. We need to oppose the left’s agenda on the merits. It’s the principled thing to do, and it will be good politics given where the American people actually are on the issues.”

The Left’s agenda is extreme, but leftists have the willpower and political power to enact it. Joe Biden claims to be proud of his Catholic faith, and therefore for 40 years he supported the Hyde Amendment that bans federal dollars from paying for abortions. Now, due to criticism from the Left, he rejects it. Biden supports abortion rights on purely legal grounds, and why not? He’s got the Leftmedia to crown him the “most religiously observant president.”

For too long, we’ve watched people of faith mocked and ridiculed in popular culture and in politics. And yet we have centuries of historical and cultural experience to back up our beliefs. Our entire civilization is built upon Christian ideas and values, so we must defend our way of life.

Anderson adds, “Even when it makes sense to argue these issues as matters of religious liberty, conservatives shouldn’t pretend to be agnostic about the truth of our perspective. We’ll have the best shot at winning fights over abortion restrictions or child sex-change procedures when conservatives are willing to assert that their beliefs are true, not merely protected in law.”

There’s plenty of evidence proving that a family consisting of a man/husband, a woman/wife, and a child or children is our societal bedrock. On the other hand, children suffer in fatherless households. And we certainly know that allowing children to undergo hormone therapy or even sex-change operations makes them far more vulnerable to emotional and psychological turmoil. And we know that a nation founded on the belief in God-given rights is a nation in decline when it allows tens of millions of preborn children to be ripped from the womb.

The Christian response to these and a host of other issues has not always been strong enough.

Loving our fellow citizens as brothers and sisters is noble and just, but do we really think they’ll preserve our religious liberty once their radical and dangerous agenda is enacted?

In fact, too many Christians fail to openly discuss and defend commonsense viewpoints supported by history, culture, reason, and even science. As a result, Christian bakers are forced to bake same-sex wedding cakes (until the Supreme Court stepped in). Christian children have to read Heather Has Two Mommies in elementary school. Big Tech can ban conservatives for tweeting that marriage is between a man and a woman or that a biological man is a man. And governors can suspend the First Amendment and shut down churches by executive fiat.

Clearly, proclaiming our religious liberty is not enough.

In his book The Benedict Option, Rod Dreher writes, “The West has lost the golden thread that binds us to God, Creation, and each other. Unless we find it again, there is no hope of halting our dissolution.” Yet Dreher seems to think we should retreat from society into Christian enclaves rather than making sound arguments more broadly so we don’t have to run and hide.

And it hardly seems a good time for Christians to surrender. After all, a Pew Research survey last year revealed that nearly half of Americans believe the Bible should influence U.S. law. A separate survey indicates that religion is still important to many Americans.

In the end, conservatives of faith need to confidently and clearly explain to their opponents why our social, cultural, and political beliefs are good for everyone. If not, we’ll lose the debate, the country, and eventually our religious liberty.

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