commentary: Persecution, Israelitish Style
In the Courts and Universities
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 13-Oct-12; 15 minutes
You might recall the general subject of the "Handwriting on the Wall" sermon that I gave at the beginning of the 2011 Feast of Tabernacles. It was in regard to the massive persecution of the Christian religion going on in this world. Even the Pope was quoted as saying that Christianity is the most persecuted religion in all of the world. Tens of thousands are martyred each year now for their faith and their practice of what they believe is the truth of God. But it's barely touched us here in the United States.
Actually, there is very much persecution taking place in Israelitish nations, but it is of a different sort than we find in the gentile world. It is typically perceived as non-violent. However, it is psychologically traumatic—indeed, often devastating to one's way of life.
Persecution in Israelitish nations is largely performed in the courts by denying Christians the right to worship God according to the dictates of their conscience. And sometimes the actions against Christians are not subtle in the least. In fact, they can be quite overt.
This first one that I am going to mention took place here in Charlotte during the Democratic National Convention. Everyone is aware of how many attendees booed and hooted against the inclusion of God within their platform. But how many of you are aware of the type of persecution that I am going to read you?
This arrived as an email in my computer. It is not directed at a person. It is a representation of, though, and actions of the Democratic Party as a whole. It's written by a man named Austin Miles, and he is a Christian pastor. He is not from Charlotte, but he was a witness of this—if not a direct witness, it was passed on to him from a Charlotte area pastor.
This pastor said that just prior to the Sunday prior to the beginning of the Democratic National Convention, 100 Charlotte area churches offered hospitality, knowing how much the Democrats hate God. And yet they did this anyway. They had no idea how the hatred would be directed at them and their churches. The Sunday before the DNC, over 9,000 people had come together to pray for the convention, and then, wanting to extend hospitality to the visitors to their city, 56 of these local churches set out to adopt a delegate. They put together gift baskets featuring Carolina pralines and a letter welcoming them to the city, and offering assistance in transportation, child care, or spiritual matters. Of course, you can see that they wanted to do some kind of service for all these people.
But the DNC banned the churches from distributing the gift baskets to delegates because, the DNC said the, congregations hold values that are contrary to the party platform. Let me say that again. The churches hold ideas, values, contrary to the party platform. It was not just about God, in other words. It was about many other Christian values besides God Himself.
David Denim, one of the organizers of the outreach, said, "We were just trying to display Southern hospitality." DNC officials, however, conveyed to city leaders that the Christians would not be allowed to present their gift baskets, and then the city mayor jumped in on the side of the Democratic National Convention because (this was his explanation) the churches' views on women's rights are contrary to the platform. This is the same group of people that booed God later. In addition, the City Council and the Democratic National Convention castigated the churches for having pro-life values. The baskets did not contain a single political or pro-life message. They just wanted to give them regional candies and a welcome letter, and the DNC refused to return numerous phone calls seeking comments. But it gets worse. When a gathering of 200 Muslims showed up to pray for the convention, the Dems welcomed them with open arms, and the liberal media gave extensive national coverage.
So, the persecution's coming in the back door. But let's go on.
Are you aware that someone assembled a long list of public declarations made by President Obama downgrading Christianity—dissing it? However, at other times he is fully aware that Christians are voters, and he hypocritically appeals to them by claiming either he is a Christian or glorifying it in some way.
However, the most consistent persecutions take place in the courts and in universities—especially in universities. Perhaps you may remember the movie starring the comedian Ben Stein. Any of you see that? I saw it—it's very interesting. He made a tour of American universities—this was all filmed—asking college presidents, department heads and professors why no open discussion and teaching is permitted on the subject of God creating. The general answer, the basic answer, was that creation by a god is unprovable.
When asked what proof they had for evolution, he got a long-winded, rambling response that contained much dogmatic speculation, mixed with words like "appears," "perhaps," and "seems like" thoroughly sprinkled throughout, but no absolute proofs. They were making fools out of themselves before the cameras. How positive is "appears" or "likely" or "perhaps"? It became clear to Ben Stein that they were doing what they were doing within the university teachings and staff only because they could, and they could only because they outnumbered the other side of the issue. What usually happened is they fired the professor, the teacher or whatever, who expressed a view contrary to what the majority held in the university.
Listen to this paper. It's a free subscription I get from Imprimis. It's a publication of Hillsdale College in the state of Michigan. It is excerpts taken from a speech given by one Matthew J. Franck, and he is the director of the Witherspoon Institute. He gave a speech regarding some of this persecution that is taking place in American courts and universities ["Individual, Community, and State: How to Think About Religious Freedom"]. He begins by saying,
There is a growing awareness among Americans that religious freedom in our country has come under sustained pressures. In the public square where freedom of religion meets public policy, it becomes clearer all the time that there is a high price to be paid for being true to one’s conscience. . . . In our universities, those citadels of toleration, we find that toleration can be sharply limited. At the Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, the student chapter of the Christian Legal Society was denied any status on the campus because it would not abandon its requirement that members commit themselves to traditional Christian norms regarding sexual morality. The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling in 2010, held that the student group’s rights were not violated by a “take all comers” policy.
In other words, they had to take as members, anybody who believe anything at all regarding sexuality. So if they wanted to have uniformity of belief among those who were members, it was ruled out. So what happened? Well, the Christian Legal Society at that university there in San Francisco disbanded. It's no longer operating. They were just persecuted out of existence by the courts and the university decisions.
Following this lead, Vanderbilt University [in Tennessee] has rewritten its student organizations policy and effectively chased every traditionally Christian student group off campus, denying them regular access to campus facilities.
You pay thousands of dollars each semester to go to school, but you belong to this Christian organization, and you cannot hold a meeting on campus because you are Christian. No other reason—simply because you are Christian and you belong to this organization. The same thing has happened at the University of Illinois.
. . . . In our states and localities, we see other kinds of pressures. Authorities in Washington state and Illinois have attempted to force pharmacists, against their conscience, to dispense “morning after” pills when other pharmacists short distances away make these abortifacients available.
Slowly but surely, they are creeping up on every Christian organization and every Christian who has a conscience regarding certain things in his religion that he feels that he cannot violate. Slowly but surely, they are making it impossible for you to be both a Christian and do this job at one and the same time.
I'm going to jump a lot—I mean, this speech is full of examples of what is happening in the courts and primarily put into effect in universities, where everybody's supposed to be so tolerant of everybody else's beliefs. That is an outright lie.
Perhaps the most interesting case involves, not a religious school, hospital, or charity, but Hercules Industries of Colorado, a private company that makes heating and air conditioning equipment. Its sole owners are the Newlands, a family of Catholics who object to providing the mandated coverage to their employees, against the dictates of their conscience as informed by their faith. The argument of the Obama Justice Department in the case is astonishing. It is that no one can claim, on behalf of an incorporated business he owns, any right of religious freedom or conscience that can trump a requirement of the law. Period.
How about that? You think it is not closing in on you and me? It is. Step-by-step, it's closing in. And the first thing you know, they are going to be beating Christians over the head and whatever.