BY TOM OLAGO JULY 07, 2016
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Are Christian morals and practices ‘endangered species’ well on their way to becoming legally extinct? The numbers of Christian organizations losing lawsuits defending their spiritual beliefs and standards are fast stacking up. Bible believers are increasingly finding themselves under siege – discriminated against in courts throughout North America.
UnBiblical laws – particularly those favoring LGBTQs (lesbians, bisexuals, gays, transgenders, and queers) – are the ones seemingly causing the most damage to the uncompromised practice of the Christian faith and are institutionalizing the persecution of Christians.
The heat of persecution against Christians is rising, and examples abound. In one case, a Canadian Appeals court ruled that a school could be denied accreditation due to Biblical marriage beliefs.
Heather Clark for Christiannews.net posted this latest update on an ongoing case involving Trinity Western University. The University had filed suit in October 2014 after the Nova Scotia Barrister’s Society (NSBS) refused to recognize graduates as being attorneys until the Christian institution changed its policy on sexuality.
The applicable section of the policy reads: “According to the Bible, sexual intimacy is reserved for marriage between one man and one woman, and within that marriage bond it is God’s intention that it be enjoyed as a means for marital intimacy and procreation…
Honoring and upholding these principles, members of the TWU community strive for purity of thought and relationship, respectful modesty, personal responsibility for actions taken, and avoidance of contexts where temptation to compromise would be particularly strong.”
Students and staff must sign a covenant committing to personally uphold these lifestyle standards.
The Ontario Court of Appeals has now ruled that Trinity Western University’s standards were discriminatory and compared the matter to the 1983 U.S. Supreme Court ruling against Bob Jones University’s opposition to interracial marriage.
“The Covenant is a document that discriminates against LGBTQ persons by forcing them to renounce their dignity and self-respect in order to obtain an education,” read the opinion written by Justice James MacPherson. “The LSUC’s (Law Society of Upper Canada) decision not to accredit TWU was indeed a reasonable conclusion.”
The judges stated that the law school may live out its Christian convictions–but without accreditation. Trinity Western University expressed concern over the decision, finding it a government intrusion. The university plans to appeal to the Canadian Supreme Court.
“It’s saying that a public organization like the law society has the freedom to say ‘this is what you may believe. Your freedom of religion is not that important,'” school spokesperson Amy Robertson told reporters. “Freedom of conscience and religion is one of the most profound privileges of being a Canadian–it gives us the right to believe in God and express that and it gives us the right not to believe in God and express that.”
“Freedom of conscience and religion is the first of the fundamental freedoms mentioned in the charter,” she stated. “It is deeply compromised by this decision and everyone in Canada, religious or not, should be concerned.”
And not just in Canada. In similar fashion, the State of California (U.S.) has proposed a bill that would deny religious exemptions from most Christian colleges.
According to LifeSiteNews.com, conservative Christians are rallying against passage of a bill that they say would expose more than 40 private Christian colleges and universities to discrimination lawsuits from homosexual and transgender students.
The bill referenced ‘SB 1146’ would significantly narrow the number of California colleges and universities that are able to claim exemptions from federal Title IX anti-discrimination law, applying the exemption only to seminaries and schools of divinity. This excludes most Christian liberal arts colleges that broadly cater to students of faith.
The Obama administration has made it clear in recent years that they interpret Title IX exemptions as applying to “gender identity” and sexual orientation – thereby putting Christian schools who believe in Biblical sexual morality between a rock and a hard place. That, by all accounts, is the purpose of the new California bill.
The bill was authored by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, and sponsors include the gay rights organization Equality California and the far-left ACLU. According to critics, without the exemption, any students who are expelled or denied housing because of sexual misbehavior, or who are unhappy to be required to attend religious services or take religious content courses, could sue their school.
The bill also requires religious colleges that get state funds to disclose their religious beliefs about homosexuality to applicants as well as to prominently display on campus their exemption from anti-discrimination law.
Numerous Christian groups, such as the California-based National Center for Law & Policy, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the California Family Council and the California Family Alliance are all lobbying state legislators against the egregious bill.
According to Biola University, “Faith-based institutions in California would no longer be able to require a profession of faith of their students…to integrate faith throughout the teaching curriculum…to require chapel attendance for students… to require core units of Bible courses [and] athletic teams would no longer be able to lead faith-based community service programs.”
Critics believe that schools teaching all subjects from a religious perspective could in the long-term be forced to shut down – or operate as if the beliefs they taught didn’t apply outside the classroom.
Christian News.net also reported another recent case in which U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves has blocked a Mississippi law in Jackson, Mississippi which allowed people who object on religious grounds to decline services for homosexual ceremonies.
Reeves in his ruling said that the wide-ranging law adopted this spring unconstitutionally allowed “arbitrary discrimination” against the homosexuals, unmarried people and others who do not share such views.
He further said the law violated the guarantee of religious neutrality and the promise of equal protection under the law by granting special rights to citizens holding certain beliefs.
Here, again, the court is simply deciding who is worthy of “special rights”, an extreme minority or the majority whose convictions dictate both their belief and behavior. In every instance, it is the Christian faith that is the primary, if not exclusive, target of these attacks.
Mississippi’s “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act” sought to shield those who believe that marriage involves a man and a woman and that sexual relations should occur within such marriages. The law also protected the belief that gender is defined by sex at birth.
By citing those three religious grounds, the law would have allowed people to refuse to provide a wide range of services, from baking a wedding cake for a same-sex couple to counseling and fertility services. It also permitted dress code and bathroom restrictions to be imposed on transgender people.
The only recourse left to Christians stripped of their rights to exercise their religious freedoms is often to appeal. However, the process is littered with appeals and Supreme Court judges are often strongly biased against Christian belief and practice.
It then becomes an easy option for them to apply the law in ways that disregard the faith and values of the people whose preferences differ from their own.
Mario Diaz in a recent article for the Blaze.com noted that the Supreme Court has gone so far as to encourage the passage of laws targeting Christians for discrimination.
A notable example came out of Washington, where the Washington State Board of Pharmacy passed a regulation prohibiting a pharmacy from refusing “to deliver a drug or device to a patient because its owner objects to delivery on religious, moral or other personal grounds.”
This requirement would essentially force Christians to get out of the pharmacy business to avoid providing abortion-inducing drugs or other drugs that result in outcomes that are not morally or religiously acceptable to them. Examples include emergency contraceptive drugs such as ‘Plan B’ and ‘Ella’, as well as various abortifacients.
One family affected by the decision to administer drugs selectively on moral grounds is the Storman family. They contested and appealed the decision all the way to the Supreme Court.
Dias noted that the U.S. Supreme Court, which should have granted certiorari (review) to correct this clear violation of the First Amendment, did not. Being instead “fresh off the ecstasies of declaring commonsense abortion regulations unconstitutional”, the Court decided not to hear the case and allowed Washington States discrimination to continue.
Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Clarence Thomas, published a dissenting opinion objecting to the denial of cert. In it, Alito called the decision to deny cert “an ominous sign,” and wrote, “If this is a sign of how religious liberty claims will be treated in the years ahead, those who value religious freedom have cause for great concern.”
Dias concurred in his piece, explaining that the Supreme Court’s inaction will undoubtedly encourage other liberal states to infringe on religious liberty in the same way Washington has, in direct violation of the First Amendment and clear Supreme Court precedent.
Michael Gryboski recently reported on the Washington case in the Christian Post. He observed conservative columnist David French’s denunciation of the United States Supreme Court’s recent decision.
French reportedly called the Supreme Court “pitiful” for refusing to hear Stormans’ appeal: “… the fact that the Stormans refuse to sell abortifacients didn’t cause a single person to lose access to the drug of their choice,” wrote French.
“But to anti-Christian bigots, it is intolerable that Christian professionals exist unless they bow the knee to the Baal of the sexual revolution, so Washington’s governor took action — demanding that the Washington State Board of Pharmacy issue regulations that required pharmacists to issue abortifacients regardless of religious or moral objections”.
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a law firm that represented the Stormans, also expressed disappointment at the denial. Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner also pointed out in a statement that the Supreme Court upheld a law that singles out people of faith to deny their freedom.
“Singling out people of faith and denying them the same freedom to refer is a violation of federal law. All 49 other states allow conscience-based referrals, which are fully supported by the American Pharmacists Association, the Washington Pharmacy Association, and more than 34 other pharmacy associations. Not one customer in Washington has been denied timely access to any drug due to a religious objection.”
As Carly Hoilman recently wrote in the Blaze.com, even Christian websites are being forced to comply with unBiblical principles – or else.
The popular online Christian dating website, ChristianMingle.com, must now allow gay and lesbian users to search for same-sex matches following a discrimination lawsuit filed by two gay men, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Based in Los Angeles, ChristianMingle.com is “the largest and most trusted Christian dating site,” and has more than 15 million registered members, according to the website.
The California judge who approved a settlement of discrimination claims has also ordered Spark Networks Inc., which owns Christian Mingle along with many other dating websites, to pay $9,000 to each of the plaintiffs plus $450,000 in legal fees to the firm representing them.
Plaintiffs Aaron Werner and Richard Wright claimed in 2013 that Spark violated California’s anti-discrimination law by limiting options for gay users looking to find potential partners. Under the Unruh Civil Rights Act, California “business establishments” must offer “full and equal accommodations” to individuals regardless of sexual orientation.
According to the Journal, the new agreement requires that the search options listed on the home page ask the user to simply to identify as a “man” or a “woman,” instead of a “man seeking woman” and “woman seeking man.”
Spark Networks will also be required to adjust searching and profile features in these websites to include options for gay and lesbian singles within the next two years.
The heat is on, and Christians need to brace themselves for more persecution as they resist the sinful pressures illegally imposed on them for simply exercising their legal and Constitutional rights to religious freedom.
“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution’ (2 Timothy 3:12) so the only appropriate response must be “… We ought to obey God rather than men” (Act 5:29).