by Rod D. Martin
May 6, 2016
It began last year when Mayor Kasim Reed fired Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran for publishing a Bible study that didn’t comport with the LGBT agenda. Cochran had pre-cleared the book with appropriate Atlanta authorities before publication. That wasn’t good enough for Reed, who waited until after publication to lower the boom. Cochran, who was named last month to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Resolutions Committee, is suing the city.
It would have been easy to believe it was just one bigoted mayor. But alas no.
Last week, Dr. Eric Walsh, a renowned public health expert who also serves as a bi-vocational pastor, filed a federal lawsuit against the Georgia Department of public health. Walsh, it turns out, was fired for preaching sermons on the first chapters of Romans and Genesis.
If one can now be deprived of their livelihood for believing the Bible, how is that meaningfully different from a criminal penalty? If it is now functionally illegal to hold a state position while expressing a Christian belief, does the First Amendment even exist in Georgia? And how long can it be until Georgia enforces this radical, discriminatory policy on private employers also?
Probably not very long. Last month, Gov. Nathan Deal (RINO-GA) vetoed Georgia’s Pastor Protection Act, after threats from Disney, Marvel, the NFL and various other large corporations. The Act was truly radical: it would have exempted churches from being forced to hire people who openly oppose and violate their beliefs.
As one Facebook meme put it: “I’m not going to do business with you because of my deeply held personal belief that you must do business with people despite your deeply held personal beliefs.”
In similar vein, First Liberty Institute’s Kelly Shackleford filed a brief this week with the Oregon Court of Appeals defending Aaron and Melissa Klein. The two bakers have already been forced to pay $135,000 in fines for declining to participate in a gay wedding and, in a particularly totalitarian twist, placed under a gag order prohibiting them from even speaking of their beliefs.
The left’s response to North Carolina’s enactment of a law requiring only that biological males respect the privacy of women’s restrooms has been similarly telling. Bruce Springsteen, PayPal and a host of others have made big shows of refusing to do business in the state. Like many of those others, PayPal actually does business in several countries that execute homosexuals. But the devil need not be consistent.
All of this, of course, is exactly the sort of thing leftists assured us (pre-Obergefell) was a crazed fantasy, “scaremongering” by “wingnuts” to raise money for rightwing politicians.
It hasn’t even been a year since Obergefell.
It is not necessary to infringe the rights of homosexuals to protect the privacy of women and little girls in a bathroom (though note well how quickly the left tosses the right to privacy when it doesn’t involve killing a baby). If the left’s logic in the Oregon bakers’ case were applied consistently, Muslims would be forced to serve pork (not gonna happen) and Holocaust survivors would be forced to cater Klan rallies (more likely than the former). Nathan Deal and the Disney Company would (logically speaking) force Mosques to hire NAMB missionaries and MoveOn.org to hire Newt Gingrich and Sean Hannity.
But of course none of those things will happen. The target of the left’s agenda is perfectly clear.
A lot of very pious pastors, especially some of the younger ones, vocally eschew any sort of political involvement, for themselves or for their flocks. But those preachers who think political involvement distasteful are increasingly condemning their flocks to persecution.
They need to snap out of it now, because they’re quickly losing the option to do so.
Some of these gentlemen claim loudly to be ready for martyrdom: jail or whatever may come. I applaud them for that.
But I would respectfully suggest that their families, their churches, and all the rest of humanity might be better served if they were just a bit less ready.
Perhaps a bit less respectfully, I suspect that many of them, having been lazy in liberty, will knuckle under to oppression without a whimper.
It’s all fine to talk bravely about going to jail for your faith. How much better, though, to act bravely before wives and churches are left behind without incomes, or faithful shepherds?
The first duty of those shepherds is to protect their flocks. It is not to tremble for their tax statuses or wait to be eaten by the wolves.
This article was originally published as part of my Beyond the Church Door series in the Florida Baptist Witness.