Attack on Religious Freedom May Be Turning
When Judge Ruth Neely in Pinedale, Wyoming, was casually asked by a reporter if she was excited to perform same-sex weddings, she replied that she had not yet been asked to do one but would be unable to because of her Biblical beliefs about marriage. For her, this casually stated conviction was the beginning of a nightmare.
Her statement was published in a local paper. It was seen by the Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics, which recommended that she be fined $40,000 and fired from two judicial positions.
The case ended up in the Wyoming Supreme Court who ruled to not fire her but added a reprimand that she must “either commit to performing marriages regardless of the couple’s sexual orientation, or cease performing all marriage ceremonies.”
This is an extreme case among many others over the past few years, of bakers, florists, printers, and photographers who have faced financial ruin for standing on their faith. Finally, the new U.S. Attorney General has issued instructions to all government departments that “Except in the narrowest circumstances, no one should be forced to choose between living out his or her faith and complying with the law.”
This is the foundation directive for providing “sweeping protections for faith-based beliefs and practices in private workplaces, at government jobs and even in prisons,” according to the Associated Press. A pivotal case is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court called Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado Civil Rights Commission. It is being watched closely and one commentator likened its importance to that of the watershed Roe v Wade case on abortion.
Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, refused to provide a cake for a same-sex wedding. The clients filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission who found Phillips in violation of the state’s public accommodations law which prohibits “discriminating” against customers on the basis of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
He was ordered to not only provide cakes for the same-sex wedding, but undergo “comprehensive staff training” and report quarterly for two years of steps taken in compliance and whether he had turned away any prospective customers.
The case ultimately became a test case accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court for a 2017 decision. Many other state and local courts are anticipating the ruling for guidance in their own jurisdictions.
This is only one aspect of the Obergefell v Hodges ruling last year legalizing same-sex marriage in all states. Prior to that was the Lawrence v Texas ruling in 2003 striking down all laws against the sin of sodomy.
In all these cases, the courts have not considered the aggressive nature of the homosexual activists. Today they are no different than the ones at Lot’s door demanding to “know” the angels. They will not stop until the rest of the world claps in admiration of their lifestyle.
The lesson for soul winners is that no government can control sin. When they try, freedom is the first casualty. Today, we are watching a futile effort by policy makers to do what only the gospel can accomplish. Those who scoff at the Bible believe that man is evil because of outside forces. But the Bible points to the wickedness of the human heart. Only a revival can fix America, by regenerating the hearts of the people.
Romans 10:14 says that unbelievers cannot believe without hearing. And “...how shall they hear without a preacher?” Few of us have a gift for “preaching,” but Chick Publications provides many little paper “preachers,” patiently waiting for someone to read and “hear.” The gospel message in the tract that we put in an unbeliever’s hand is an excellent way for any of us to seriously affect the rising sin around us.
But, at the same time, we need to earnestly pray for those who are fighting to keep the policies in place that protect our freedom to share the wonderful good news.