Many reject the notion that a good segment of our popular culture and of our political class is at war with Christianity. But this is a real war — not a phony one, such as the left’s manufactured “war on women.”
This hostility toward Christianity is a global phenomenon. Radical Muslims are targeting, persecuting and, in many cases, slaughtering Christians in numerous countries around the world. But I want to talk about a softer form of hostility — though nevertheless of serious concern — that is occurring in the United States.
I filled an entire book with examples of discrimination against Christians in this country about a decade ago, and since then, there has been little or no abatement of this practice.
For example, a student in Dyer County, Tennessee, was suspended because she committed the unforgivable sin of saying “bless you” when a classmate sneezed. High-school senior Kendra Turner said her teacher told her such expressions are for church. Turner said, “She said that we’re not going to have godly speaking in her class, and that’s when I said we have a constitutional right.” It was this objection and the student’s being “disruptive and aggressive” that reportedly led to her suspension by an administrator.
Well, it seems to me that the disruption, aggressiveness and inappropriate behavior came from the teacher, not from Turner. Indeed, Turner’s youth pastor, Becky Winegardner, implied that this was about not insubordination but rather the teacher’s apparent hostility toward faith. “There were several students that were talking about this particular faculty member there that was very demeaning to them in regard to their faith,” said Winegardner.
The secular left, the humanists, the anti-theists and sometimes the militant homosexual lobby aggressively challenge Christian expression in the public square, arguing that our Constitution mandates a strict separation of church and state. That is grossly wrong and leads to much confusion and sloppy thinking on the issue.
The First Amendment contains two religion clauses — the free exercise clause, which guarantees that we may freely exercise our religion, and the establishment clause, which prohibits the federal government from establishing a national religion or national church.
Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to the Danbury Baptists, used the expression “wall of separation between Church & State,” but that language is not in the Constitution. The establishment clause is the provision that secularists and activist courts have used to argue the Constitution dictates this separation. But it was never intended to and, though courts have dramatically expanded it beyond the framers’ intent, still does not require any such strict separation.
Courts have expanded it to prohibit all kinds of religious expression in state-funded venues, on the grounds that if religious expression occurs in such places, the government — state or federal — is indirectly funding or supporting a particular religion and this constitutes an establishment of religion.
This strained interpretation is absurd in light of the purpose of the clause, to prevent the establishment of a national church. But the Turner story takes it beyond absurdity. It’s ludicrous enough to say the federal or state government is establishing a national religion when a publicly funded official (e.g., a teacher) promotes a particular religion, but this was a student, not a teacher, and this was a reflexive blessing, not an act of proselytizing.
Please understand: The purpose of both religion clauses was to promote religious liberty. That is abundantly obvious with the free exercise clause, but it should be just as clear with the establishment clause. The only reason our framers would have prevented the establishment of a national religion is to protect religious liberty.
But courts have twisted the establishment clause into a weapon against religious liberty. To argue that blessing a sneezing classmate constitutes the government’s establishing or even supporting a particular religion is surreal.
Further examples abound — enough to fill up another book. In the name of protecting religious liberty (for Christians, anyway), the secular left, at every turn, is choking and smothering it.
But it’s not just these constitutional issues that should concern us. There is an increasing hostility toward Christians and Christianity in our culture, the liberal media, Hollywood and our universities.
For the record, if the secularists were concerned about the government’s taking sides on such questions, they would also object to the rampant secularization of the curricula in schools and universities, including the demonization of our Christian heritage. They would be concerned about the preferential treatment often given to Islam. But it’s not the Constitution these people are fighting for; it’s Christianity that they are fighting against.
The “tolerant” left has zero tolerance for Christianity, and all Christians and all lovers of liberty would be well advised to be vigilant against this societal assault on Christianity that uses the Constitution as an excuse.
To those Christians who casually dismiss all this as beneath them because they want to focus on evangelizing and not politics, please understand that your ability to evangelize would evaporate in the absence of political freedoms. So if you want to be removed from the fight, I won’t object, but please don’t condemn those who willingly engage in this struggle so that you can continue to focus on evangelism.