Religious Liberty on the ropes

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Mike Griffin, our Public Affairs representative under the Gold Dome, gave a report relative to this year’s legislative session to the Georgia Baptist Mission Board Public Affairs Committee this week. His work was thoroughly commended and Georgia Baptists’ influence in the legislative process was well noted.

Although there were some faithful and courageous legislators in Georgia who did their best to pass religious liberty legislation this winter, their efforts to do so were spoiled by those in leadership positions who had no appetite for defending the First Amendment.

So, for at least four years now religious liberty in Georgia has been ignored by some, diminished by others, and denounced by yet others. It is certainly not a priority with the governing elite.

However, I will tell you what is a priority – big business, commercial enterprises, a fanciful dream about Amazon coming to Georgia, the film/entertainment industry, professional sports, and a whole bunch of other obsessions we do not have the infrastructure to support in the first place.

As a parenthesis, I must add that I am having a hard time getting excited about another enterprise coming to Georgia and bringing its West Coast values with them.

Every American, especially Christians, should be concerned about religious liberty and our First Amendment rights. In Georgia, we have ample examples of individuals and groups whose religious liberty has been violated. I have been providing those examples for three years in editorials and feature articles.

The propaganda taught in many of our colleges

Our values are changing quite enough because of the propaganda being taught in our public colleges and universities. Some of our private institutions of higher learning may be added to the list of those who are teaching our students a leftist agenda. Cal Thomas, writing from Campus Watch, explains, “There were 1,643 full-time faculty at 183 four-year schools surveyed and the results revealed that 72 percent of the professors at American universities labeled themselves liberal, while just 15 percent said that are conservatives.”

Thomas continued, “A quick Google search of ‘liberalism on college campuses’ brings a wealth of good evidence that what is being taught on many of them is anti-American, anti-religious, anti-Israel, pro-gay rights and pro-abortion, often to the exclusion and ridicule of opposing views.

“Many conservative parents send their children to these colleges and often subsidize their tuition when so many undermine their beliefs and values. The stories are legion of young people who are sent to these schools and emerge with a far different worldview from when they entered.” (This is all the more reason to get your student in one of our Baptist institutions of higher learning).

Beware of those who promote a socialist agenda

And guess who benefited from the liberal ideology propagated by these liberal professors? Bernie Sanders! He almost won the Democratic nomination for the U.S. presidency in 2016 because his ideology appealed to many of the recent college graduates who had swallowed hook, line, and sinker the worldview taught by liberal colleges and universities.

Interestingly, Bernie Sanders is the new leader in the field of potential Democratic presidential contenders for the 2020 New Hampshire primary, according to a new poll of likely Democratic voters.

Why is this disturbing? For one thing, Sanders is an avowed Democratic socialist. It has been said that the goal of a democracy is socialism; and we must remember that Vladimir Lenin, premier of Soviet Russia and the Soviet Union from 1917-1924, said, “Democracy is indispensable to socialism; and the goal of socialism is communism.”

Sanders calls himself a cultural Jew, but that he does not believe in God in a traditional sense. His comments have led some people to suggest that he is an atheist. We do know that he is not particularly partial to the Christian faith. Last year when Russell Vought was being interviewed to be the White House deputy budget director, Sanders did not take well to Vought’s candidacy, because he professed to be an evangelical Christian.

When Vought described his need for the “centrality of Jesus Christ in salvation,” Sanders, according to The Federalist, said, “[He] is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about …” Essentially, Sanders demands an unconstitutional religious litmus test on Christians in public service positions, yet the exact opposite for those of Islamic faith. Sanders has made standing up for the religious liberty of Muslims a focal point of his career over the last couple years.

Compatible ideologies

Sanders and Communist China have something in common. They apparently want to limit the influence of Christianity. Last week, according to The New York Times, the Chinese government made a decision to ban online retailers from selling the Bible. This great Eastern nation with almost 1.4 billion people is also clamping down on the underground churches in the nation. Among the nation’s major religions – which include, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, and folk beliefs – Christianity is the only one whose major holy text cannot be sold through normal commercial channels.

I was at a Christian gathering earlier this week and met a marvelous Christian lady from China who lived in China for years before coming to America. She confessed to being an atheist, but came to faith in Christ and was lamenting the fact that the Chinese government is seeking to persecute the underground church and restrict the sale of Bibles in China.

I asked her, “Do you see any similarity between the restrictions of religious liberty in China and in the United States?”

She replied, “Religious liberty has only come under attack in the United States in recent years, but the suppression of religious freedom is on a faster tract now in the United States than it was in China when I lived there.”

When it comes to religious freedom, complacency must be our enemy. Benjamin E. Mays said, “The tragedy of life is often not in our failure, but rather in our complacency; not in our doing too much, but in doing too little.”

In the coming days we must not let our religious liberty slip away because we succumbed to the natural and slept while it was taken from us.

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