"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
That's our First Amendment right—it's called the freedom of religion.
This protection guarantees we'll never have a statewide religion—like what we had in England—and it also safeguards our right to exercise, or live out, our religion freely.
Unfortunately, the First Amendment is under attack today. So it's important to clearly define exactly what we are talking about when it comes to our first freedom because so much is at stake.
Headlines regarding religious liberty are often misleading, and surveys are even more so, depending on how the questions are asked.
A recent headline last week asked the question, "Is it acceptable for Christian business owners to refuse service to gay people?" At first glance, most honest Americans would say, "Of course not!"
This was our reaction as well, because in our mind we could easily replace the words "gay people" with any number of other folks and answer the question the exact same way: "Of course not! If you're in business you should serve everyone."
But this response doesn't actually answer the real question, which should be, "Is it acceptable for Christian business owners to be forced by government to service ceremonies, events or messages that are against their beliefs?"
You see, this conversation or debate over religious liberty has been framed to suggest Christian business owners are refusing to serve gay people in this country—when in actuality nothing could be further from the truth.
Religious objections in the marketplace have nothing to do with refusing to service people. Rather, they have everything to do with forced participation in ceremonies, messages and events that are against believers' consciences.
In our own business, we've sold more than 20,000 homes in 14 years across 35 states in this country, and never one time have we refused service to gay people—not once. This is the same story for nearly every Christian business owner in America.
Discrimination against gay people simply does not exist. To say otherwise is disingenuous at best and misleading at worst.
Yet the headlines continue, blurring this critical distinction as masses of people are led astray on the issue.
Check out this scenario and see what you think in terms of religious liberty:
Imagine you're a Christian who owns a local print shop. You also lead marriage seminars at the church and help families stay together and thrive in unity. One day, a couple you've counseled through the years files for divorce because the husband was caught cheating on his wife. He ends up leaving her and the kids—rejecting all the counseling you've given him over the years.
Then he decides to get married to his lover and asks your business to print the invitations for his wedding. You decline, based on your religious conviction that what he has done is wrong. You just can't stomach what he has done to his family.
All good, right?
Well, what if his lover was a man? Should you then be forced to participate in the wedding?
Honestly, it doesn't really matter what choice you would make as to whether or not you would print the invitations—but what does matter is whether or not you should be forced to print them.
That's the crucial distinction.
Here's another scenario:
You own a marketing company and are a recovering alcoholic. The abuse of alcohol nearly destroyed your family, but you got help through Alcoholics Anonymous and cleaned up your life. As a result of your newfound sobriety, you vow never to touch alcohol again, and you even go a step further by promising your family and employees you'll never allow your business to promote events that sell alcohol.
Then you're asked to do a direct marketing campaign for the Saint Patrick's Day Parade—an event where you know alcohol will be sold. You refuse, based on your conscience.
All good, right?
Well, what if it was the local gay-pride event? Should you then be forced to market the parade?
Do you see where this leads?
Failing to clearly distinguish the lines between people and events, messages and ceremonies will result in a significant loss of freedom in this country. It's time we start fighting back.
Ronald Reagan prophetically warned: "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."
The freedom of religion must be fought for and protected because the stakes are so high today.
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