Is There Really a War on Religion in America?

No Christians Allowed?

There has been a constant wave of news recently that has led some to opine that America is seeing a “war on religion” – that the current administration and liberal politicians and educators are seeking to limit the influence and power of religion in American culture.  More to the point, the assumption made is not that “religion” is the problem, but conservative, evangelical religion.

Is there any evidence to support this charge? Well, several recent events have been marshaled in support of this theory.

1)  The New York Schools exclude churches

In June of 2011, a federal appeals court ruled that NY schools could exclude churches from using their buildings for worship services.  Of course, in NY, with the cost of building space, this has been a common practice.  The appeals court ruled that the ban did not exclude religion expression but a type of activity – worship services.  The US Supreme Court refused to hear the case, essentially upholding the ban.  I am no lawyer, but this appears to be a departure from court cases that have consistently upheld equal access to public buildings by churches and religious organizations.

2)  The Vanderbilt Exclusion 

Recently, the Vanderbilt University administration removed protection of religious groups from their student handbook.  In America, there has always been an assumed right for religious groups to exclude those who do not practice their faith from the organization.  Vanderbilt has adopted an oppressive politically correct ethic here.

Any Christian group that holds to its convictions will run afoul of these guidelines.  In a moment worthy of George Orwell, Vanderbilt calls their policy a “non-discrimination” policy.  But there are four Christian groups that are the only ones who have been held to account under this policy.

It would seem that Vanderbilt is denying freedom of religion to groups that are convictional in nature.

SBC Today has run a series of articles on the Vanderbilt situation this week and is reporting tonight that the Vanderbilt Baptist Campus Ministry is now being pressured to accept non-Christians into its leadership.

Does that seem bizarre to anyone else?  A Christian group is being told to let non-Christians be leaders in the Christian group.

3)  Obama’s Contraception Policy.

This one has been in the press a lot, hasn’t it?  The president (who sometimes seems to forget that he was not elected king, but president) ordered that religious organizations (for now, churches are exempt) provide coverage for birth control, sterilization and even the morning-after abortion pill.  The furor that arose led to an Obama compromise which did little to alleviate the problem.

Essentially, by imperial order, Obama has denied the religious liberty of those who have convictions contrary to his pro-abortion views.

4) Catholic Adoptive Services

The Catholics have shut down their adoptive services in Massachusetts, because they did not agree to the state’s demands that they permit homosexual couples to adopt.  Again, liberal politics has trumped religious conviction.

These are just a few of the issues that have been in the news recently.

So, what’s the answer?

Is there really a war on religion in America today? 

In a word, yes.  YES!

Yes, President Obama and his administration, other liberal politicians, the elite media, and the higher education system in America (which is predominantly atheistic) are working to prevent conservative, convictional Christians from having the freedom to practice their religious beliefs in the  public square.

Of course, they do not call it a war on religion.  They call in a war on discrimination.  But, effectively, it is a cultural war on those who believe in what they disbelieve.  For them, religious freedom means exclusion of religious belief or expression in any way in the public square.

Biblical Christians believe two things that liberals find heinous.

  • We believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to God and that other religions are wrong.  We affirm the freedom of people to practice these false faiths, but we also believe they are false faiths that deliver people to death and hell instead of providing life.  The exclusivity of Christ is as fundamental to us as it is offensive to liberals.
  • We call certain activities sin.  We believe that abortion is killing of a human being and is not right.  We believe that homosexual activity is sinful.  We stand against the culture on these things.

And regardless of what they say, liberals despise freedom of speech that they do not agree with.  In those countries where liberalism has taken hold, the right of Christian preachers to confront sin has been challenged.  In America, those who hold convictions on the issues are viewed by some in our current administration as terrorists, are viewed as homophobic and extreme. They define the expression of basic Christian commitment as “hate speech” because we believe that Jesus is the only way and that certain behaviors are sin.

The Obama Administration, liberal politicians, the elite liberal media and the powers that be in the educational system in America wish to ratchet up pressure on convictional conservative religious expression. That seems clear to me.

So, what is the answer?  

1)  Do the work of the church.  Proclaim the gospel whether the government supports us or persecutes us.  We are unique in America in that we expect our culture and government to support our work.  Most in history and in the world today do not have that expectation.  We need to do the work of the church (essentially, the Great Commission) regardless of whether we are blessed or persecuted for doing it.

2)  Voice your concerns.  If there has every been a time for Christians to speak their minds, it is now.  We must not let politics derail us from our chief gospel task, but neither should we sit back in silence and do nothing while basic liberties, which we believe are given to us by God, are taken away from us.  Write your congressman.  Speak to friends. Help people see that religious liberty is under attack.

3) Vote for people who support religious liberty.  There is a difference between saying one is for freedom of religion and actually being for it.

I am not prone to wild statements (except perhaps about sports), as most of the readers here will know. But I believe that if America does not elect strong majorities in both house of Congress who support religious freedom and replace the current president, the freedom of religion we have known for centuries will be gone by the next election cycle.  If I want my grandson to know religious liberty in America, the time is now to take a stand.

This ought not be a partisan issue.  Democrats and Republicans alike should desire to uphold freedom of religion for all. I’m a Republican, but often one who is frustrated by or ashamed at my own party.  But we need to elect a Congress and Senate who will oppose the restriction of religious freedom.  I genuinely believe that such liberty is at issue in this election.

Before you vote for a candidate, ask if they support Obama’s restriction of religious freedom in matters of birth control.  Ask your candidate what they think of the Vanderbilt and New York City public school persecution of religious expression.

If they support these things, voting for them is essentially a vote to end religious freedom. If you want that, fine.  If you want those who have strong religious convictions to have freedom to express that, you need to vote carefully in November.

4)  Civil Disobedience

We may be called on to follow the example of the early apostles who said, “We must obey God, not men.”  If the government commands us to do what is wrong, we may have to defy our government even if there are consequences attached.

I’ve never participated in civil disobedience in my life.  But things are changing.  I am amazed at some of the reasonable, Christian statesmen who are currently discussing civil disobedience over the oppressive Obama policies against religious freedom.

Let me be very clear here.  Civil disobedience is civil, not violent.  It is forceful, but peaceful.  And when you engage in it, you have to be willing to pay the legal price.  I’m not talking about taking up arms against the government.  That would be sin.


This is new ground for me.  I’ve always been more on the “the church is not about politics” side of things.  I still think the gospel is our primary work.  And I have always been suspicious of alarmists who have been predicting that the sky is falling during every election in the last 20 years.

But, listen to Chicken Little, my friends.  The sky is falling.  Religious liberty is at stake in America and if you don’t stand now, your children and grandchildren may not have that opportunity.


  1. Bruce H. says

    Amen, Dave. Bout time it is said!

    Within these 3 short years two (2) things have been established without any more than a ripple of response from Christians. First, Obama has announced to the world that America is NOT a Christian nation. Second, Obama has given NASA the responsibility to “make nice” with Muslims. This, in its self, has opened the floodgates of religious change in America. The liberals want “religious communism” to be in effect so we have no ability to express our wills in worship to our God.

    I’m certain that the lawmakers are creating insignificant laws now that will be used later on down the road against every freedom of religion we have. One that I have recently heard of is that “everyone” will soon be required to turn in people that they know of who hurt or molest a child under 16 years of age. That sounds wonderful, however, you will be required by law or face a stiff penalty. The lady who told me about this worked with the government and referred me to Romans 13:1-7. She claimed to be a Christian, too. I asked her if the government made a law that we could not carry our bibles around except on Sunday, would you turn me in? She said, yes, I would have to. (Blink Blink) I think we need to take a long hard look at the kingdom we are part of and make some defining statements on what we a “Christians” should do when this matter comes up between Christians. I am not talking about unbelievers here. How will we address this issue between Christians?

    By the way, I have made sure my older children are registered to vote and will personally escort them to the polls during early voting. It may cost me a dinner but I think it is worth it.

  2. says

    Also, don’t act surprised. We should be nervous not when the world wants to silence us, but when the world loves us. If the world loves us, we’re doing something wrong.

    • says

      Indeed. Turning the world upside down with legitimate Christianity has its consequences. Accommodating it with “Your Best Life Now” motivational speaking, “Enjoying Everyday Life” pop psychology, and “Woman Thou Art Loosed” victimization not so much.

  3. says

    “Religious liberty is at stake in America and if you don’t stand now, your children and grandchildren may not have that opportunity.”

    When this happens we will be no different from a significant percentage of Christians in the world today and throughout church history. Also, times of persecution for the church were foretold in the Bible. It is God’s decrees and purposes coming to pass.

  4. bapticus hereticus says

    There is war on religion in America, declare some religious conservatives, somewhat feeling oppressed, even as they have exerted much control over the Republican party and influenced many issues coming out of Washington. Not that many of these have been successful, but lack of success is less about denial of religion (given non-acceptance of such is by religious and non-religious people, alike), and more about the merits (or lack thereof) of the proposal. If the Catholic bishop position of denial of religious liberty had validity, more Catholics would be supportive of their position, but by far most Catholics favor the Obama proposal and nearly all Catholic women use or have used birth control, as do most protestant women, liberal, moderate, and conservative. When it comes to Catholic doctrine, there is Rome and there is the United States, and even among those with strong Vatican ties, official doctrine concerning conception is a bit problematic.

    Vanderbilt, an institution with a great divinity school, audited its student groups and found discriminatory policies in a number of them, some of which were religious groups. Let’s be clear, these student organizations are not congregations, they are groups affiliated with and under the supervision of Vanderbilt University and its policies developed by good people, religious and otherwise. The religious groups were not singled out; they were actually a minority of the groups found to be discriminating against other Vanderbilt students. Of one of the religious groups, the Catholic student organization, has amended its constitution ending discrimination, and it appears to be doing fine.

    I don’t write to suggest that one will not find dumb decision regarding religion, but to elevate a dumb decision or a group of such as manifestation of an ongoing war on religion is, well, not intellectually honest. More likely the situation is that religion is perceived by a fair amount of people as not being very relevant for a meaningful existence, and given the constant drumming of many highly visible religious leaders and what they choose to highlight and importantly what they choose not to highlight, is it any wonder that some say, what’s the point? And said perceptions are also formed by religious people wishing more than many religious groups, ensconced in a limiting parochialism, are able to provide. Thankfully, in time, some of these people correctly perceive, in my opinion, that rejecting religion is not merited, rather it makes good sense to reject bad religion, however not the people that practice it.

      • bapticus hereticus says

        Dave, how is the policy restricting one’s religious freedom? People are not forced to use birth control measures. Insurance companies are absorbing the cost. Catholic organizations accept tax dollars, and still wish to say that government regulations don’t apply? What the Catholic Church wishes for its ordained people in its various organizations is not an issue here, but what is applicable for non-ordained people is. The government does not care what you say from your pulpit; have all the religious freedom that you wish, but when you wish favor from the government (e.g., tax-exempt status), there will be a string or two. Likewise the government does not care what Catholic organizations do concerning its ordained people. Not all of their people, however, are ordained, and as long as these institutions are recipients of public funds, directly or indirectly, or public favor, and employ those that are not ordained professional ministers, these institutions have public obligations. They can say no and only employ priests for all their tasks. But they know the futility of that. Notre Dame will not last much longer, nor heavens forbid, the football team! They also know if they make this issue what it is – health care – they have no issue. It’s a power grab by bishops wishing to exert more control over the church, which most Catholics realize and are rejecting the attempt. That is, a large majority of Catholics do not see this as a religious freedom issue.

        • says

          “Insurance companies are absorbing the cost.”

          No. Insurance companies are passing on the cost. For-profit businesses do not “absorb” costs, they find a way to pass those costs on. They may not label it as such, but that is what will happen. Until there’s a way to generate resources without cost to anyone, then somebody’s paying for it. And don’t expect that secular employers are going to take higher insurance premiums just to cover supposedly free benefits for religious employers.

          It may not be exactly a freedom issue, but the idea that insurance companies will absorb the cost rather than pass it on to customers is a dodge.

        • Christiane says

          “That is, a large majority of Catholics do not see this as a religious freedom issue.”

          that is absolutely true

        • Lydia says

          “Dave, how is the policy restricting one’s religious freedom? People are not forced to use birth control measures. ”

          But they ARE being forced to offer and pay for them through the health care provider. And if they pay part of the health insurance premium, how is that not the same thing as paying for it?

          Doug is right. All costs are passed on to the consumers.

          I can remember a day when we were given a CHOICE whether or not to include maternity costs in our health insurance policies in our state. Then our Governor decided to overhaul the system and make that and other things mandatory in all health insurance policies. So whether you were a 20 year old male or an 80 year old woman, maternity was included in your policy. Makes total sense, right? Because of this overhaul, many smaller insurance companies left the state. My provider did….as I was a college student who chose my policy which was really cheap….not covering maternity and other things I did not need at that age. It was simply MY choice. At that point, to be insured I only had 4 options and all of them way out of my financial league.

          If a woman wants to be covered for birth control or quasi abortion meds then don’t go to work for the Catholics. It is pretty simple.

          But I do think you bring up a good point about tax exempt status. The day is coming where we won’t have a leg to stand on concerning that. And it will be thanks to guys like Ed Young and Benny Hinn.

          • Eric says

            Speaking as one who works with employers who self insure their medical benefits, those companies act as their own insurance company and every claim from dollar one is funded by that employer.

            They may use an insurance company to administer the plan, but that insurance company does not pay a cent of the employers cost.

            Over 60% of employers with 100 or more employees self insure and that number is rising with the maximum loss ratio imposed by obamacare

      • bapticus hereticus says

        Is this an article on Vanderbilt or one that concerns itself about one that no longer teaches at Vanderbilt? Which part does Mohler want me to takeaway, that liberals are not Christian, that he is a religious fundamentalist rather than a religious conservative?

  5. says

    Wow, thanks so much for putting this important message here. Before I go on, I want to reccomend all of you read “When a Nation Forgets God: 7 Lessons We Must Learn from Nazi Germany” by Erwin Lutzer. It’ll hit you hard in the gut when you read it. I’ve read it twice, and the implications of it are unnerving.

    We live in a society that is radically redefining words – tolerance, freedom, discrimination and many more. We’ve gone from sane, reasonable, logical definitions of those words to an Orwellian interpretation that often makes them mean the exact opposite of what they really do mean.

    I call out all my brothers and sisters in Christ – stand up for your convictions! Too long we have sat and let the radical atheists, homosexuals, abortionists and anti-Christian establishment have the mic in the media. May we take up Jude’s challenge and “earnestly contend” for our faith (see Jude 3).

    I don’t think it will be jackbooted thugs kicking in the doors and dragging church members to internment camps. No, it will be much worse – at this rate we will silently surrender. The government will mandate what will and will not be preached from the pulpit, they will threaten the comfort of our country club churches (taking away tax exempt status, etc.) and tell us that “hate speech” from an ancient text is unacceptable. We will say “okay” because we do not want to sacrifice our comfort for conflict. The plight of the Christian is suffering, and to find joy in that suffering. Just go read Acts 16 and what happened to Paul and Silas in Philippi. Are we ready for that?

    Go pick yourself up a copy of “On Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau to read in your spare time. Dave, my biggest concern is that this is more than a Christian problem. It’s an American epidemic. Our country has lost it’s backbone.


  6. Lydia says

    The real test comes when we see if these same entities treat the “religion” of Islam the same way.

        • Bruce H. says

          We were sensitive to these kind of things when Christianity had influence on our government officials. Now, Muslims do. That is where it really gets scary. Nothing against what you said but our government is catering to Muslims. That is scary.

          • Lydia says

            Bruce, we have to think things through very carefully now. Do we want ‘equal’ religious rights so Sharia law can be taught in public school buildings? Things have changed and we need to really think things through when we complain about religious discrimination. What is good for the “Christian” should apply to the “Muslim”, too, in religious liberty? How do we deal with that when people are totally ignorant of the Koran and what it teaches? Even Muslims~! Do people really think about the major differences between them or just think of “religious liberty”? People do not think about that and it scares me.

          • Bruce H. says

            You are right. The Muslims want total control though and we know it. In their mind it isn’t about freedom. They just use our freedom against us. They can never agree with the Oath of Allegiance [] since they come from a State religion. For America, we need to look upon Islam the same way we looked upon Communism.

  7. says

    See if you can find any ” War ” at Ms. Houston’s funeral today which is televised . The “feeling” and Religion on display today is trying to tell us something.

    • Bruce H. says

      One thing it is trying to tell us is the Ms, Houston’s lifestyle of drugs and booze is justified. She has been in that lifestyle for quite a while. I will be surprised to see her when I get to heaven.

      • says

        Bruce H. – I;m surprised that you don’t believe God can forgive mistakes . Does everybody you know that has or has had a problem with booze or drugs or with mental health which you say you are familiar with , and can lead to drug abuse – are they automatically committed to hell . Don’t answer that Bruce , because I’m not interested in your answer. I’ve witnessed some very fine people that had problems they couldn’t “lick” . We were never selected to judge no what our personal experiences.

      • Bruce H. says

        Sorry, Jack. I believe a person can be saved and live like she did, however, scripture does say that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. It never did say it was impossible. We just need to focus on those who have lead the right kind of life after they were saved and to say they have gone to heaven rather than assume that someone who has not led the right kind of life after they were saved are in heaven. It kind of cheapens grace to me. I just said that I would be surprised to see her in heaven.

        • says

          Bruce – How long and how nice does a religious service have to be before someone, anyone on this “religious Blog” can find within themselves something nice to say about it . I’m not talking about how rich a person is or is not while they are suffering from whatever . Nor does the Bible state how long you can suffer from drugs , booze , prostitution before you can be forgiven. Maybe you didn’t hear the sermon but for people that believe that God is in control they fall short in estimating His abilities and seek to lobby him to do what he has already promised He will do . Why not just tell God that you are sorry – that Whitney Houston didn’t do anything to you and if she had she just might have prayed about it , which kinds of cuts you out of the picture .

        • Bruce H. says


          The difficult thing here is that either your thinking or my thinking is correct and we cannot know for sure until our faith is tested by death and then we know for sure. I have nothing to argue with you about.

  8. says

    This war has been going on for a long time here in America. Back in the 1800s Horace Mann and some others decided to get the Bible and religion out of the public schools. A similar resolution was mandated by a group of six meeting in New England circa 1906, and by the ’70s, the thing was on its way to succeeding. Then there are those who think tolerance is religious liberty, not realizing that tolerance is a major step away from religious liberty and a long way toward intolerance. We will tolerate you until we get the upper hand, then watch out. About 46-48 years ago, I was a pastoring a small church in Mo. We were opposed to a state school bus bill which would have allowed the catholics to transport their children to their schools on the public school buses. Our catholic neighbors started threatening us with physical violence: “We will beat you up, if you don’t stop opposing this bill.” We let them know that that wouldnot fly, and we even passed out their literature at our church (I don’t remember them passing out ours). Then they went back to threatening us again. End result: All the protestants got together, and the catholics in that neighborhood lost positions on the local school boards, etc.

    If you all will do some study of the influence and methods of unitarianism in New England and how they corrupted much of the Congregational Church, you will find the seeds of much of today’s problems. If you all will read Tragedy and Hope by Carroll Quigley (President Clinton’s mentor at Georgetown), you will find there is a conspiracy (the tip of an iceberg- in my opinion), and their theology is inimical to ours (could that thing be a batch of Jesuit trickery?). Does anyone read outside the box?

    • says

      Dr. Willingham:

      I see it as more of a bipartisan problem. The GOP and its neoconservative leadership pretends to be on our side, but when the chips are down they show their true colors, such as Ronald Reagan appointing pro-abortion, pro-homosexual Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy to the Supreme Court back when there was actually a chance to shift the court to the right on social issues for decades, and also George W. Bush and Dick Cheney’s opposition to a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage back when such an amendment would have passed. Judges appointed by GOP presidents over the years laid the groundwork for gay marriage, and everyone expects Anthony Kennedy to cast the swing vote for gay marriage whenever it comes before the Supreme Court.

      I have formed the opinion that neo-liberalism (the dominant ideology of the Democratic Party) and neo-conservatism (which dominates the GOP) are actually the same ideology in disguise, and the purpose of the two parties in this climate is to keep us at each other’s throats while they work on enacting the same agenda behind the scenes. An example: both neo-liberals and neo-conservatives support economic, political and military globalism. And what use does globalism have for Christianity? You can ask the Christian refugees from the “new, democratic liberated Iraq” that question, as well as the same from the “Arab spring” countries. And while you are at it, there are all those persecuted Christians in China, which just happens to be our #1 economic partner thanks to the work of Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton and both Bushes. The idea that the “neos” (whether Democrat neo-liberals or Republican neo-conservatives) have any more regard for American Christians than they do for Christians in Asia, the Middle East and Africa that they have spent decades selling down the river in pursuit of their policies: why?

      Note how both parties have spent the last several decades driving anyone who questions globalism from their ranks. The worst slur that you can call any politician or pundit these days isn’t “racist” or “homophobic” or “socialist” but “isolationist.” Ron Paul gets called a nutcase, extremist etc. by both sides solely because he opposes the U.N., the IMF, the World Bank, nation-building and wars for reasons other than self-defense.

      No matter who wins in November, the pursuit of the “neo-ism” ideology will continue.

  9. says

    “This is new ground for me. I’ve always been more on the “the church is not about politics” side of things. I still think the gospel is our primary work. And I have always been suspicious of alarmists who have been predicting that the sky is falling during every election in the last 20 years.”

    This is how I’ve felt about it too. I’ve always thought the church was better served by advocating for justice than getting too entrenched with a particular party. But the stories you mention in your post have caught my attention too–and I’m concerned. I’ve been writing a series of lessons on the churches in Revelation focusing on maintaining faith in the midst of adversity. Reading the headlines makes it seem that much more relevant. Our time may be coming–how will we respond?

  10. volfan007 says


    Great post. I agree. If things dont change, our children or grandchildren will not know freedom of religion.


  11. Christiane says

    those issues that I raised, concerning responding to issues as Christians with integrity, cannot be avoided for long. . . they are important issues that are now confronting Christians in this country AND will not go away.

    The time will come when a conflict will arise so egregious that the Church can no longer be a willing political participant without damaging our witness.

    Ignoring conflicts of values is a mistake, I think, for the Church. I know it is unpleasant to deal with, but the Church must not be seen to be in collusion with certain entities that are un-Christ-like.
    That is VERY important, in my opinion. And turning away from facing this CAN hurt the Church.

  12. says

    Can I be forgiven by my wonderful colleagues here if I don’t volunteer for duty in some of these religio-political conflicts and if I offer an opinion that evangelicals look a bit silly at times when claiming to be the heavily beleagured and woefully oppressed innocent wrapping ourselves in the garment of pristine victimhood?

    I don’t like any of the things Dave offers as examples here, nor do I support any of the policies that are involved. I wouldn’t have voted for Obama unless his opponent were Mephistopheles. That said:

    Vanderbilt is a private institution. Who would argue that it may not create such legal student policies as it sees fit? No one is required to attend the expensive school. If Christians were singled out for such policy in isolation from others, there would be a religious freedom case. It is a silly policy but Baptist Campus Ministries can still minister, just off campus.

    The Obama health care mandate creates inevitable church/state conflicts. I think the administration will eventually be buried under this one and we may be thankful that they went this route and created such a stir.

    I’m not sure about the NYC case.

    Our dirty secret is that what we really want is religious preference from the government, though I don’t presume that was something Dave had in mind. And BH may be wrong about many things but he is not wrong about the Catholics, and Baptists, being joined at the financial hip to the state with revenue streams.

    I’ve been hearing the war on religion battle cry for about thirty years. It hasn’t done a thing for us but generate material for stemwinding sermons. We’ve had our choice for president for twenty of those thirty years (Reagan, 2 Bushes) and I fail to see where that has done one thing for us.

    Only God in His providence knows, but it may well be that a good dose of genuine religious persecution/discrimination in this country would be just the prescription for the greater progress of the Gospel, which is why I judge Dave’s first recommendation to be his strongest.

    But, if Dave is 100% right, how about those among us who have declared they will never vote for Romney because he is a Mormon explaining why they will choose to give Obama another four years to work his magic on this country?

    • says

      William – I’m in general agreement with you and would add to your observation that “we” havn’t had one thing done for us by Reagan or the Bushes and that is : the working people that are sometimes Union and have as a group been Democratic – haven’t gotten anything either for years except company bankruptcys , lost jobs and with Social security as a safety net , along with lost homes and savings AND , there are those that want to take that away. Yet , we told we are to blame .

    • John Wylie says


      I agree with you about several things but I disagree with you about one, namely, that getting our candidate in did nothing for our cause. First, I would vote for Bush again just for his Supreme Court appointees, they stand in stark contrast to the two that President Obama has appointed. Secondly, President Bush did sign the partial birth abortion ban.

  13. Doug Indeap says

    A “war on religion”? Seriously? Get a grip.

    Christians dominate American society and politics. Christians of all sorts comprise about 78% of the population; Catholics comprise about 24%. Christians comprise over 90% of members of Congress; Catholics 29%; Jews 7%; only one member is atheist.–The-Religious-Composition-of-the-112th-Congress.aspx Six justices of the Supreme Court are Catholic; three are Jewish.

    The official national motto is “In God we trust.” The government prescribes a pledge of allegiance declaring that our nation is “under God.” Presidents and other politicians close their speeches with the obligatory “God bless America.” Federal and state laws naturally reflect the views of the religious electorate for the most part.

    Even though Christianity remains by far the dominant religious influence in our society, Christians no doubt have occasionally faced instances of unfairness and the like. But persecution? When I hear a member of that dominant religion express feelings of persecution and such, the image of a privileged child comes to mind–one who, faced with the prospect of treatment comparable to that experienced by others, howls in pained anguish at the injustice of it all and pines for the good old days.

    As an atheist, I know how it feels to hold views not shared and even reviled by many in our society. You may understand then how alarming it is to hear members of the dominant religious group speak of their sense of persecution. History often reveals dominant groups working themselves into a lather about perceived wrongs against them before they lash out to “restore” matters as they see fit.

  14. says

    1) New York City: Liberals and conservatives alike support equal access. In fact, it was the “liberal” Baptist Joint Committee that spearheaded the effort to pass the Equal Access Act a couple decades back. This is a problem that the courts will have to work out. Bloomberg was wrong to exclude the churches. I see the decision in NYC as a violation of equal access.

    2) Vanderbilt is a private institution. It’s entitled to make decisions that I don’t agree with. I expect – at the end of the day -Vanderbilt will reach an agreement that is acceptable to all sides. That there is a “church-state” battle on the campus of a private university is nothing new. These things more often than not get worked out. Educational administrators – religious and secular alike – aren’t perfect and certainly reach too far. This is overreach. Clearly, the school had a problem with discrimination. The proposed solution was not a good one.

    3) I invite all to read this recent entry by the leading church-state expert among Baptists on this issue. Rogers is highly regarded among her peers as someone who bridges the divide between different groups. She has a nice track record. I’m sure Frank Page can attest to her work.

    This is an extremely complex church-state issue – a point that Rogers makes quite nicely. I think there is a solution that can and will be reached, cooler heads must prevail though.

    4) Catholic Adoption Agencies.

    I think nondiscrimination is a value that our society should champion. I guess my fellow conservatives can agree to disagree with that point. I just tend to think that if you take government dollars (Catholic Charities in some locales receives 60-90% of its funding from government sources), then you should expect to be regulated.

    Let me also add:

    My Baptist pacifist friend is very much opposed to the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why must he continue to pay taxes to support those wars? Where is his exemption? Where is the respect of conservatives for his religious liberty?

    My Baptist pastor friend is a lesbian in a committed relationship with her partner. They are adopting a child together. Her conscience and her church supports same-sex marriage. Why do my conservative brethren not respect her religious liberty? Why not allow her marriage rights? What about her conscience?

    That War on Religion cuts both ways.

    Every side always has a competing religious liberty claim. We try to strike a balance and respect conscience but inevitably there are going to be winners and losers. Someone’s conscience is going to be respected more than others.

    The track record of Southern Baptists on religious liberty issues in recent years is mixed at best. I don’t recall many SBC voices in support of the Muslims in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I do recall, however, Richard Land being forced to withdraw from a JEWISH-led coalition designed to support the basic worship rights of Muslims in Murfreesboro and elsewhere. Why? Apparently Land’s support of those Muslims equaled the promotion of Islam among “grassroots” Southern Baptists.

    Again, the track record is mixed at best.

    Church-state issues are complex – always have been.

    • Frank says

      “””Why not allow her marriage rights?”””

      That’s easy. If marriage is simply a religious institution, then homosexuals have had the right to marry in religious ceremonies for decades. So, your point is mute.

      If marriage is a “civil” institution, then the government–the plurality of the people–have a right to make certain restrictions. For example, should government endorse a man who wants to marry (with all rights thereunto) his dog? All laws limit some person or persons’ choices. If you say that you support a man’s right to marry his dog–a right that has as much “civil” standing as homosexual marriage (not comparing homosexuals to dogs), or polygamy, or whatever else one wants to marry. In that case, you point will quickly move to anarchy and is unsustainable as a viable world-view.

      Either way, your point does not seem to pass either moral or civil muster.

      • says

        You are correct that “all laws limit some person or persons’ choice.”

        That statement of fact also implies that religious liberty is not absolute.

        The government restricts religious liberty and disrespects the consciences of many of its citizens.

        Rights have to be balanced. Rights are balanced.

        It’s fine if you want to protect the so-called “sanctity of marriage” and restrict my friend’s right to marriage and its many benefits. Let’s just be honest about what is going on. Laws restricting same-sex marriage by definition are not honoring the religious freedom of those same-sex couples who have religiously-based conscience claims.

        Just to add, if you’re not comparing homosexuals to dogs, then come up with a better analogy. It’s the “civil” thing to do.

        • says

          One more thing: perhaps we can also agree that Mormons had their religious liberty “assaulted” in the late 19th century, specifically with the Supreme Court’s Reynolds vs. United States ruling.

          • Lydia says

            Ever read ‘Under the Banner of Heaven”? The Mormons found a way around many things. They have “religious” marriage ceremony’s for multiple wives then those extra wives have children and file for entitlement programs as single moms.

            Some friends of mine in England tell me the Muslims are doing the same there there, enmasse, for multiple wives. “Religious” marriage ceremony then wives go on the dole as single moms.

          • says

            BDW – I won’t agree that the LDS had their religious Liberty assaulted in Reynolds vs US . The Mormons as a group after being “invented” in up-state NY were forced around the country because Smith claimed he was having visions of what Christianity really was and grew his group of followers to where they moved into a town and virtually by having the numbers voted to move the City Halls . Then they went to Utah where Reynolds tried to play the religious card with polygamy in 1878 . Didn’t work. In 1895 Women got the Right To Vote and after the Mormons themselves promised they had given up Polygamy , Utah was allowed to be a State in 1896. Our Federal Government moves slow but it is always moving . About 30 – 40 years ago a religion was “invented” in California to which anyone that subscribed could belong and they had all the “i s” legally dotted – they thought . After buying their “titles” in the church they used ” and wrote off in their taxes ” virtually everything they owned from Yachts, to have that personal religious experience at night under the stars , to farms, ranches , homes which were churches , etc . After about 8 years the IRS moved in and disallowed this sham and the shamer’s couldn’t come up with the money they hadn’t been paying for back taxes . Our Religious Laws are firmly fixed in our U.S. Constitution to be interpreted by “past practice” thru current judgement . As Ms. Lydia has pointed out and if true they have been “skaming” our – everyone’s entitlement programs. Some people find encouragement in others success in stealing and not getting caught ; but, seem to forget that as a whole this nation is not stupid and will not be taken advantage of forever. Christianity has found its niche in the tax codes as well and has used their imaginations to deduct land with nothing on it except trees , weekend retreats w/ homes and “missionaries” along with businesses that sell insurances of most kinds and make Retirement Investments and on and on. We as a Government are extremely fair but should not be mistaken for being a “push-over”. I have a lot of documented “facts” on LDS and one Mormon on the Web actually said ” someone would come looking for me”. Wrong approach amigo . And for those that corrupt our Religions with their own “visions” then the Chinese words ” sam sing ” which means ” same thing” are applicable again – Wrong Approach ” Religion is too true and to good for a select few self appointed intellects to botch up for us all while bleeding it to death ” in His name” – in my humble opinion .

          • says

            I don’t know how you can disagree that the Mormons had their rights infringed with that decision. That’s a statement of fact beyond dispute.

            Folks are free to disagree over whether the infringement was justified and whether the ruling was correct.

            But polygamy was a historic part of the Mormon faith. George Reynolds was charged with bigamy. His defense was one of religious duty – a conscience claim for religious liberty. The Supreme Court found that religious liberty is not absolute. Congress can legislate against action (just not opinion).

        • Frank L. says

          BDW, I think the problem seems to be that you believe that all religions are equal under our constitution. I can understand why you might feel that SHOULD be the case, but it would mean the Constitution would have to be interpreted outside of the context it was written.

          That being the case, we are not discussing the same guiding document. I don’t know how America can progress, or how far, from that context and survive as a nation. History says that two and one half centuries are already at the long extent of democracy.

          I admit, this has brought us to a point of some ambiguity.

          I also do not know of what “religion” you speak of that has homosexual marriage as the norm. Certainly, no society I know of (and I don’t have absolute knowledge) has been established upon this principle. I don’t see how it could survive.

          Therefore your proposition is a hypothesis contrary to fact and can not be engaged logically.

          I do believe you point out the fact that America’s days are numbered. The Constitution as a “growing, changing” document will not survive the freedoms it initially granted. This leaves us at a bit of a stalemate.

          You also did not address how your proposition would deal with someone whose personal religion dictated he could marry his sfuffed animals (to avoid the obvious problems with dogs). By the way, though you may find it distasteful, sex with animals is restricted in the Bible in the same passage as homosexuality, so my analogy though distasteful, is not illogical. To put it bluntly, the Bible calls homosexuality an “abomination,” so that is God’s evaluation, not mine.

          I do understand how that makes me feel uncaring and uncivil. However, having seen the ravages of immorality (homosexual and otherwise) perhaps I’m not being as uncaring as you suggest.

          Again, I do recognize the seeming “unfair” position of suggesting that America was established on Christian principles that as a foundation precludes homosexual marriage. That is a historical fact (as you know better than I). The question is begged: “is homosexual marriage so beneficial as to set aside the historical context of our Founding documents? And, at what point have we so “improved upon” the Constitution that it is no longer the glorious document it was to give birth to this great nation?

          The first question I can answer much easier than the second.

          I would like to see you tackle the question of which “religion” supports and promotes homosexual marriage. My limited knowledge says, there are none.

    • says

      Big Daddy Weave:

      Vanderbilt being a private institution is a canard. Vanderbilt receives federal funds, i.e. from the Department of Education. They have to abide by civil rights laws on this issue just as they would regarding – for example – desegregation laws. So they are no more entitled to this decision than a state university would be.

      I do agree that if you accept state money, then you are going to have to abide by state rules. That is why I oppose school vouchers, or at least I oppose Christian schools taking them.

      As far as pacifist Christians and taxes for warfare, regardless of what the law says, the BIBLE says that we are to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. If the government takes tax money from a Christian and uses it for immoral purposes, then the sin is on the government, not the Christian. It is the duty of the Christian not to break the law by refusing to pay taxes.

      As far as Muslims in Murfreesboro or anywhere else, Christians should not support or promote any false religion. Christians most certainly can and should petition the government to secure and protect the right to practice Christianity. The book of Acts makes this clear. But this is done in service to the gospel, not to defend any concept of rights or any political agenda. While the law should be respected and enforced, let the various cults and false religions fight their own battles.

      Regarding your homosexual acquaintance’s desire to have the state recognize abomination, Christians should not support or advocate the agenda of sin and sinners in any context. Christians are to advocate for the advancement of the gospel, and other groups can see to their own causes.

      • says


        If Vanderbilt is not sufficiently “private” – then don’t we have to do away with the private-public distinction? What schools haven’t not directly (and especially indirectly) received federal funds?

        The decision re: New York schools was a bad one and inconsistent with previous Supreme Court rulings affirming equal access. All signs indicate that the decision will be overturned in the near future, however.

        I agree with your analysis about rendering to Caesar. Although, notable Southern Baptists seem to want to be jailed MLK-style over the HHS controversy. Not sure how they think the government moves from fining an institution to jailing an individual. Fines are levied against institutions of all sorts on a regular basis – rarely are individuals actually jailed. The imagery of jail and comparisons with Dr. King, I guess, serve some rhetorical purpose. I don’t know. I don’t think anyone will confuse Richard Land for a Nelson Mandela anytime soon though.

        I hear you on your belief that defense of freedom is done in “service to the Gospel” not to “defend any concept of rights.” That is a position that many have especially many Anabaptist brethren. That’s not the historical position of Baptists, however. Helwys and Williams surely were advocating for a “concept of rights” and petitioning the government authorities. On that point, you stand in isolation rather than alongside “The Baptists.”

        The state grants freedom to sinners and freedom to sin in many different ways. I will point out that that your views on this issue and others are definitely consistent with the historic separatism that has characterized self-identified Anabaptists and “Bible Baptists”

        • Lydia says

          “What schools haven’t not directly (and especially indirectly) received federal funds? ”

          Hillsdale. And for reasons we are discussing here.

        • says


          Suffice it to say that were Vanderbilt refusing to admit or hire blacks, no one would say “well they are a private institution.” Vanderbilt’s participation in federal student financial aid and loan programs (at minimum) would be the first thing cited to neutralize any “they are a private institution” arguments, and the courts would agree.

          “then don’t we have to do away with the private-public distinction?”

          No. All that need be done to maintain the public-private distinction is to refuse taxpayer money. And again, that is why I suppose school vouchers: the Christian schools that take them would become public schools – or at best charter schools – restricted from teaching the truths concerning the exclusivity of Jesus Christ and the Bible’s moral/ethical commandments (for example).

          “All signs indicate that the decision will be overturned in the near future, however.”

          I don’t know what you base this on. The circuit court of appeals ruled against the churches, and the Supreme Court refused to hear the case. A district judge resorted to a legal tactic to keep the case alive, but then the circuit court of appeals narrowed the scope of her action to a single church. Who knows if the Supreme Court is even going to take the case, and how Anthony Kennedy (another great Reagan appointee) is going to rule. But allow me to say that the right for Christians to access government facilities for worship purposes is not a big issue for me. What IS a big issue for me is the move – behind the scenes for now but will come to the forefront in a few years – to have churches declared to be places of public accommodation. And the “place of public accommodation” court ruling is something that TRULY removes the distinction between private and public.

          Regarding the positions of Baptists versus Anabaptists, I oppose religious politicking whether it is done by the right or the left. And I also do not agree that it is a “Baptist” versus “Anabaptist” thing historically, because that ignores the Dissenter/Separatist movements that the English Baptists (both General and Particular) derived from. Had it not been for the decision to separate from the state and its Anglican church – and to go to jail for it as John Bunyan did (and note that Bunyan turned down an opportunity to be a civil magistrate because it would have required him to imprison Christians who participated in assemblies that the state still regarded as illegal) – the modern Baptist movement would not exist.

          “I don’t know. I don’t think anyone will confuse Richard Land for a Nelson Mandela anytime soon though.”

          Considering the theological beliefs of King and Mandela, not being confused with those two are meritorious.

          “Helwys and Williams surely were advocating for a “concept of rights” and petitioning the government authorities. On that point, you stand in isolation rather than alongside “The Baptists.””

          Helwys and Roger Williams do not represent all Baptists. Plenty of Baptists throughout history and to this day want only to be left alone by the state, not just the BFFI and similar. It is just that the Baptists who do seek a platform to promote an agenda – and themselves along with it – are the ones that are generally taken to speak for all Baptists. Incidentally, in America, what evidence was there of organized attempts of Baptists to involve themselves in matters of state before the Scopes trials and the rise of the religious left in the 18th century and religious right in the second half of the 20th century? And while SOME Anabaptists taught separation from the world, OTHERS engaged in violent attempts to overthrow the government and use it to impose their own religious ideology on everyone! (Such Anabaptists became pacifists only after their sedition failed.)

          “The state grants freedom to sinners and freedom to sin in many different ways.”

          Well the state is profane. The church is holy. They are supposed to remain separate. (As you might tell, I am not a traditional covenant theology guy, preferring instead new covenant theology.) If the New Testament record is any indication, what the state does is irrelevant to the church except where the state is persecuting the church and/or attempting to keep the church from fulfilling the mandates given to it in scripture. This is not merely true of the New Testament, but also at various points in the Old Testament. But both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, there was no record of saints enabling the false religions and sinful practices of others, or of the state. Coexisting with them peacefully? Yes. Helping them? No. The idea that we have to defend the rights of Jews and Muslims to protect our own rights to assemble, or to join hands with gay rights and abortion rights activists to defend individual liberty and human rights is absent from the Bible. So yes, the state is going to behave in a manner that reflects its fallen nature, Christians are not to participate in or enable any behavior that comes of this fallen nature. That is not only giving Caesar more than what he is due, but becoming part and parcel of the very Babylon that the Bible tells us to come out of.

    • K Gray says

      There are a number of principles mixed into that post. But in the mandated-free-contraception debate, two values compete:

      The First Amendment constitutional right to free exercise of religion of religion


      a government policy decision to require all employers to provide insurance with no-cost contraception, sterilization services, and “morning after” (or week after, ella) pills that prevent fertilized eggs from implantation.

      Belmont College, for example, is a private college that does not accept government funds and does self-insure. Guidestone is a private, nongovernmental organization (funded by Baptist? not sure) which provides insurance to religious organizations. These religious organizations are claiming the religious liberty right NOT to have government require them to offer, pay for or subsidize practices which they oppose, or believe are sin.

      On the other side is women’s access to birth control at no cost. Four points:
      This has never been a right. It still isn’t a constitutional right.
      Most prescription meds cost something, even with insurance.
      No-cost contraception is a new federal mandate.
      Government already provides free or low-cost contraception via
      Planned Parenthood, state programs (in Texas, via a Family
      Health program), county and other organizations.

      As for abortion, even Guttmacher Institute doesn’t list “can’t afford contraception” as a reason for abortion. In their November 2011 report on Abortion in the United States, Guttmacher reports that 54% of women having abortions WERE using contraception, but were insconsistent. Guttmacher says “Forty-six percent of women who have abortions had not used a contraceptive method during the month they became pregnant. Of these women, 33% had perceived themselves to be at low risk for pregnancy, 32% had had concerns about contraceptive methods, 26% had had unexpected sex and 1% had been forced to have sex.”

      So, when this new no-cost contraception public policy is weighed against the First Amendment right of religious instutions to NOT provide, at no cost, things they don’t believe in, the religious liberty right weighs pretty heavily.

      By the way, I wonder if Muslim schools and employers will be exempted?

      • K Gray says

        P.S. Why did the HHS choose contraception to be no cost? Is this what doctors recommended for better public health? Or the Centers for Disease Control? What medical group or study formed the basis of this policy recommendation? For example:

        Why not choose blood pressure medication?
        – Millions have high blood pressure.
        – Those in poverty may even need it more, and can’t afford it.
        – Free blood pressure medicine is not as readily available as contraception is.
        – For many, high blood pressure can’t be controlled behaviorally.
        – High blood pressure more often leads to disease, disability and death than does pregnancy.
        – High blood pressure is a chronic condition.
        – Most people don’t have a religious conscience issue with blood pressure medication.

        So, why go straight to contraception and immediately raise the religious conscience issue? And what journalist is tracing the ‘genesis’ of this important new federal mandate?

  15. Carter says

    The fact that Vanderbilt is a private institution is means that it may do is it pleases within the limits of the constitution. It has nothing to do with whether or not Vanderbilt has an academic culture that is oppositional to Christianity or whether not it’s actions represent an attack on religious liberty. In fact, Vanderbilt and many other academic institutions have indeed adopted a tone, and culture that regards the Christain faith in particular as an enemy.
    It is a desperate mistake to see the erosion of our religious liberty as small and inconsequential. It’s as though your free speech is only regulated in small ways. Once the instituion has the power to interrupt the free exerecise of religion in small ways, it has the power to do so in large ways.

    • says

      With regard to Vanderbilt, it appears that the policy as implemented is hostile to students of all faith traditions not simply Christianity.

      I suspect the Jewish and other non-Christian religious organizations on campus have issues with this policy as well. I’m sure Jewish groups don’t like the idea of a non-Jew serving in a leadership role just as much as the Baptists of the BCM don’t like the idea of a non-Christian serving in a leadership role.

  16. says

    The background of Vanderbilt reminds me of my grandfather’s brother telling about the families that ran America, and that was one of the names. Try Tragedy and Hope and The Anglo American Establishment. Also read Taylor Caldwell’s Captains and the Kings, Cleo Skousen’s The Naked Capitalist, and a host of other works, all of which spell out very plainly the problem of a conspiracy that got control of America in 1912 with the adoption of the Federal Reserve System, a central banking faciliy with unelected members who control our money supply, contrary to the constitution which specifies that Congress shall have control of the money, the members elected by the citizens. As to the situation regarding Moslems, they have the right under the constitution and some mean well. There are others, however, who intend to turn this into a islamic state under the control of Sharia law which shall have disastrous consequences for women, children, marriage, freedom of religion, etc. Any study of Moslem states will provide enought information to establish the likelihood of patterns detrimental to the freedoms of the West. As to the issue of homosexuals this grows out of a situation in England and the boarding schools, and it will but the opening of the door to every evil that we have reason to dread, including pedophilia, incest, and beastiality. Our society is on the edge of another age of darkness unless we have a Third Great Awakening. We also have people who have brainwashed deliberately about the origins of our nation. Here is a question for those who hold the contrary: How in the world did the Supreme Court in the 1790s under Chief Justice John Jay rule that the United States was a Christian Nation. Again, in the 1890s the Court ruled in a like manner. How could this be? It is based on the fact that our laws, covenantal ideas, and various practices are taken from the Bible. That book is so much a part of our culture and lore that our government is truly a Christian nation without a denomination running the show. Biblical precepts are the source of mercy, charity, relief, etc., that makes America the land of the Free and the home of the Brave. But now with the rules from the Supreme Court unchallenged, unopposed, and unparalleled in its denial of the laws of the God of nature invoked in the Declaration of Independence and implied in the U.S. Constitution, we are on the edge of a disaster, one that will sink the whole of world civilization in to barbarism and savagery which will make the Dark Ages from 500 A.D.-1500 A.D. look like a nursery contretemps. Just think: If some people want to get rid of the excess population (some 5.5 billion or slightly more), what better circumstances to facilitate mass murders than the economic collapse of the international economy, bringing virtually all nations to a devestating situation which will encourage the forces of lawlessness and destruction. Under the cover of such confusing circumstances, a steely, resolute, determined, and satanic group could carry out its policies of extermination and euthanasia wholesale without any real, viable opposition. And there are those who have been prepared for such roles. About 29 years ago our 11 year old son attended a school for the gifted students for two weeks in the summer of ’83, a school that really wanted to recruit him. During that two weeks, he said one day, “Dad, Mom, there was a strange question on that computer today.” The question was: If you were an official in a world government and had an overpopulation with a country in Africa, how would you handle it? Three answers were offered stated in bald terms: a. Have a war and kill them off. b.Use an infectious agent, germ or disease and kill them off. c. Let them starve. Later, I would learn that same question was put to participants in our State Dept. Exams. Interestingly enough, our son’s mentor during those two weeks was a young college student, a black student. I have often wondered what he thought of such question. And the school was a state school, and this year I found out another state has one. I suspect there are others. Such institutions sound like training grouns for preparing people to be participants in a world government…like the United Nations which abhors biblical and Christian ideas…though the statute in front of the UN Building bears the inscription, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares….” Religious liberty under the very guise of religious liberty is near to being lost. Soon, there is reason to think, it shall be only a historical memory. As a lover of religious liberty, as a believer in it, as one descended from those who believe in it and fought for it, I am apprehensive for my church, my nation, and my people.

    • says

      dr. James Willingham – People who are able to “think” should be challenged – lie you son in that special school – but if you have quoted the entire question correctly they didn’t provide enough choices to make a correct choice which would have been to ” Leave It Blank – Don’t Answer It “. Several years ago it was rumored that the State Police applicants here were asked ,” If ordered to confiscate all firearms from civilians – would you ?”. It’s a Fair question but again the “answer choices” were never given and I never found anyone that actually saw it on a form . As far as our State Department is concerned , let me say that our State Department like the NRA , doesn’t vote and doesn’t have a parking place – people do and we all are not stupid . Glance at the USAID which stands for , U.S. Agency In Development and has a long record of accomplishing just that with the work of thousands of its employees active around the world . We spot diseases around the world and work to short-stop them . If there is another Jones Town on the horizon somewhere then show me something official in writing where we have as a State or Country taken a back seat permanently to Wrong Doing anywhere without regard for Int’l & U.S. Law. Yes the Bible was the Law – Is the Law, but Lawyers today Need and Have shelves of Law and prior cases to guide them in our complicated society . It is not impossible at all and certainly plausible to invite to any forum any official from any Government Department to answer any of these charges in everyday language – but , make no mistake the World is not just black and White and some decisions are hard , some not equally Fair to All and when necessary new Laws will be written to plug the holes that exist – but no amount of threatening will force any issue to the surface . TRUTH , however will as we saw with the Civil Rights Movement which again did not itself vote – the people did.

  17. Bill Mac says

    Our dirty secret is that what we really want is religious preference from the government,

    I think this is true. I haven’t digested all the piece yet to make too many comments, but I really don’t think we want equal freedom of religion in this country, we want Christian supremacy of religion (endorse by the state, I mean).

  18. bapticus hereticus says

    It’s been an interesting exchange, and enough has been said to demonstrate that Dave’s thesis is not supported by the given evidence, but he does raise some issues, nonetheless, that contain an element of dumb, for which reasonable people ought to take notice. At best those agreeing with Dave are nibbling around the edges of these issues apparaently satisfied that they have taken a bite out of those seeking to deny religious freedom, but to such some have shared, contrary to claims that religious freedom is on the verge of disappearing, that some of us are OK with denying others religious freedom (e.g., Sharia law, gay marriage, polygamy, opting out of financing war) and prefer continued government favor that we don’t wish to extend to others.

    However, having said that, if we are at war, then it is at least WE that are engaging war on others of differeing religious perspectives, or at least WE would be comfortable with such. Perhaps we can just say that absent ‘the dumb’ we are trying to make reasonable decisions, in the vein of BDW’s arguments, that seek to balance the rights and perspectives of competing interests. That one has something removed or added is a theoretical possibility, but such is the reality of a country committed to a bounty of rights, of which religion is but one. To date, this country has done well concerning religion, and I expect that it will continue to do so, notwithstanding extant states of dumb.

    • K Gray says

      bh, in the case of the Affordable Health Care Act no-cost contraception mandate, the “balance” is between a Constitutional right (First Amendment free exercise) and a new federal policy that women who have jobs with insurance benefits must be provided free (no copay) contraceptives — which they used to have to pay for.

      Religious liberty v. paying less for contraception.

      Did you know that about 1/4 of early abortions are now nonsurgical? It’s by pill – mifepristone. So far the federal government does not require religious organizations’ insurance to provide mifepristone. If and when it does, what is the objection? If Catholics can be required to provide contraception and morning after pills, then they — as well as Baptists and Jews and Muslims and others — can be required to provide early abortion meds.

  19. Carter says

    While Vanderbilt’s ideology of inclusion may have a practical negative effect on many people of faith, the climate at Vanderbilt and most of our elite academic institutions is particularly anti Christian. Not that all of Vanderbilt is against all of Christianity. That would be extreme and inaccurate. However, the thrust of the culture of the academy is in opposition to both revelation as a source of truth and the exclusivity of the claims of the Gospel.

    • says

      If “the culture” affirmed the exclusivity of the claims of the Gospel and recognized God’s revelation as Truth, would not the culture then be Christian and the distinctions between sacred and secular be meaningless?

      • Frank says

        BDW, I think that is a good point and it is the danger Christians face when trying to be socially responsible as citizens in a pluralistic society.

        I’m comfortable with there remaining a tension between culture and church, but I think we should demand as citizens a level playing field. I just don’t think we should imagine that God always blesses our team with a win.

    • bapticus hereticus says

      As one in higher education, I don’t perceive such to be the case, and considering many of the ‘elites’ were founded by religious groups, such has a ring of implausibility. That there are, say, atheists in these institutions, religious and otherwise, is not denied, and yet, as a Christian, I would vote to hire and tenure said people given their ability to help our searches for truth. The atheists I know are not opposed to Christianity, they simply don’t give it much or any thought for themselves, but they do appreciate the good that Christians seek. In my experience, and it is only an ‘n of 1’, I perceive greater intolerance from Christians toward atheists than atheists toward Christians.

      As one in higher education, I will say that Christianity is not afforded a place of privilege, nor should it be; Christianity is one religion among others, and it must make its bones like any other perspective in the academy. Whereas the institution that I am affiliated with is itself affiliated with a religious group and has a six-hour requirement for study in scripture, it is not an institution that is sectarian in nature. While it is an institution that can states ‘this is valued’, it can also state, ‘you are valued and the search that you engage, even if it leads you to other perspectives.’ Granted, some religious conservatives will take issue with this, but such is not evidence that the institution, all or part, opposes Christianity.

      And within Christianity, beliefs concerning revelation and claims of exclusiveness are not uniform. While the denial of such is rejection of what some consider to be orthodox (and) evangelical Christianity, it is not denial of Christianity, although the suppositions that some work with would suggest such. But, as is equally true, there are Christians working with other suppositions that allow counter perspectives. Having said that, I am NOT a relativist nor one given to syncretism, either.

      The reality is this: the United States is a pluralistic society and communications technology keeps such before us more than we have experienced in the past. Pluralism is not new, even if it is more pronounced. While the Christian faith is still the largest faith group in the country, it is not the only faith group that is to be considered (along with those that reject religion), and evangelical Christianity is not the summation of Christianity here or in the rest of the world. When evangelical Christianity sneezes, it does not follow that Christianity must catch the flu. But if Christianity, notwithstanding perspective, has merit, it does care that evangelicals are perhaps feeling poorly.

      • Christiane says

        “But if Christianity, notwithstanding perspective, has merit, it does care that evangelicals are perhaps feeling poorly.”

        yes, I would say that it cares very much indeed

  20. Carter says

    The notion that most of our elite academics don’t struggle with the idea of revealed truth or the exclusivity of the gospel is ridiculous on its face. These two example are hardly the province of evangelical christainaity but are two important anchors of orthodoxy. I was careful to not say all academics or every institution. However my comment stands as accurate.
    The undeniable Christain heritage of many major acedemic institions is more a proof of Dave’s thesis than a refutation as these institutions long ago abandoned their Christain moorings.

    • Christiane says

      “These two example are hardly the province of evangelical christainaity but are two important anchors of orthodoxy. ”

      I think that ‘revealed’ truth is an important part of Christian orthodoxy,
      but, if you examine Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christianity, you will not find the evangelical definition of ‘the exclusivity of Christ’ described at all in the same way. Now, as long as evangelical Christianity is careful to eliminate from their definition of ‘orthodox’ all those who are Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican . . . then your assumption might be correct.

      It is very important not to assume that the evangelical definition of an ‘exclusive’ Christianity is an anchor of all Christian tradition, as those groups I referred to will not agree with the definition in the same way at all.

    • Dave Miller says

      We are very aware that many who calls themselves Christians deny the exclusivity of Christ, Christiane. Jesus warned us that false prophets and false teachers would come in like wolves among the sheep and seek to deceive and devour the flock.

      The fact that false teachers deny Christ does not change the fact that he claimed, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

    • bapticus hereticus says

      Carter: … [1] comment stands as accurate … [2] Christian moorings.

      bapticus hereticus: [1]. OK. We disagree. [2] And some might suggest that it was not the Christian mooring that was jettisoned, rather the trustees that were impeding its Christian practice in seeking truth, thus attenuating the strength of its Christian mooring.

  21. Frank says

    BH, I’d like to ask you a question that I think may sound condescending on the face, but I really don’t mean it that way.

    You said, “””I would vote to hire and tenure said people given their ability to help our searches for truth.”””

    My question: would you hire a blind man to be your chauffeur just because he (or she) loved to travel?

    Or, to state it from a Biblical perspective, how can a “fool” aid in the quest for truth? (Ps. 14:1).

    If one believes the Bible, as I do and as I think you claim to believe, then how can one ignore God’s judgment of an atheist? Of course, I know the argument about not requiring my brains surgeon be a believer (though all things being equal I’d prefer such), but the quest for truth is ultimately a “moral” (I’d say, spiritual) quest for which an atheist is not suitable.

    Again, I am not wishing to be condescending but your gratuitous assertion leaves room for a challenge it seems to me. While truth claims in Christianity are indeed not uniform, the acceptance of a Supreme Being (a foundationally basic truth) is uniform within Christianity, as opposed to the uniform denial thereof from atheism.

    • bapticus hereticus says

      God forbid, your child has cancer. The FDA has just approved a drug that cures this form of cancer, and without this treatment, your child will die. The developer of the drug is an atheist.

      I am going to guess that a subsequent conversation on fools will not materialize.

      • Frank says

        BH, my child did in fact die, but not of cancer so I know the heartbreak of losing a child. I’m not really sure how that relates to using an atheist, whom God refers to as a fool, as a guide on an intellectual journey.

        I think your comment is enough to settle the matter of a “conversation on fools.”

        I may have erred in giving you more credit for dealing with the facts than engaging in personal attacks. I’ll not make that mistake again.

        Enjoy your ride with the blind chauffeur.

        • bapticus hereticus says

          Frank, I don’t know you from Adam’s house cat, but it was you that personalized the post to me as a hypothetical, and I did, thus with you, too. Tell me how I am to know you lost a child, and pray, tell me, what have I ever said on this forum that would lead one to believe that I would knowingly write something to cause another pain?

          I am truly sorry for your loss. I don’t know such pain, but I have been told there is none greater. God’s peace and comfort continue to undergird your being.

          I don’t look to an atheist for all understanding of all things, nor do I look to Christians for an understanding of everything, either. I look to the one that can best help the questions that I have, but do not automatically discount the counter perspective of what I think might initially be better, for engagement with the other (as defined many ways) may lead to insights that might otherwise be lost.

          An atheist can be useful for my searches, religious and otherwise, and I am not going to dismiss the good that they are capable of sharing with humanity. I am not going to call one as my pastor, but I am very happy to work alongside said people in the pursuit of truth as each of us are capable of discerning. To do otherwise is not intelligent and surely not responsible higher education.

          • Christiane says

            pain unhealed shows up in blogging all the time . . . people strike a nerve, and there is a reaction

            it should always be forgiven, the reaction

          • Frank says

            BH, I thoroughly understand your perspective, but have questions in regard to the efficacy of such a point of view.

            I don’t demonize atheists, but I do look a bit askance at their point of view, on any subject. You have a higher comfort level, apparently, for someone’s views that completely discounts the supernatural.

            I think I understand that view and I know there are many in academia that hold it. I think it is flawed as my “blind chauffeur” analogy demonstrates.

            If I may risk putting words in your mouth, “you compartmentalize your faith” more than I am comfortable doing. That in itself does not make me right and you wrong, but it does make us different.

            Not only would I not want an atheist to mentor me as a pastor, I would not want one to mentor me in philosophy, history, or any other educational pursuit. Why? Because the pursuit of knowledge is an intrinsically “spiritual” quest; as in “I am the Truth, etc.”

            And, for the record, I would accept any cure regardless of who developed it because, as Augustine proposed, “All truth is God’s truth.” I think that is a different issue altogether.

            The only place I feel an atheist can contribute equally in an educational pursuit of mine is to give an expert opinion on atheism–and even then, I’d be skeptical.

            I also agree that one should not dismiss a counter-argument out of hand, but one is justified in tempering one’s acceptance based upon the presuppositional bias of the source.

          • bapticus hereticus says

            Frank: … [1] I look a bit askance at their [i.e., atheist] point of view, on any subject … [2] “blind chauffeur” … [3] [“you compartmentalize your faith”] … [4] I would not want one [i.e., atheist] to mentor me in philosophy, history, or any other educational pursuit … [5] I would accept any cure regardless of who developed it … [6] the only place I feel an atheist can contribute equally in an educational pursuit of mine is to give an expert opinion on atheism ….

            bapticus hereticus: Given 1, 2, 4, and 6 are of the same theme, I will treat them as a whole. Whereas that is your choice, such would not be the norm in any institution of higher education (other than perhaps one operating as a bible college), notwithstanding institutional type, mission, and orientation (i.e., religiously affiliated or otherwise). I dare say that such an attitude toward atheist researchers is not the norm even in, say, SBTS. Secondly given 1, 2, 4, and 6, it is difficult to accept that one would state 5 without a good deal of cognitive dissonance, which need not exist, but sadly might. There is a disconnect between [1, 2, 4, and 6] and [5]. Concerning 3: I would see my goal as the integration of faith and knowledge by accepting truth wherever it is found and by whoever is responsible for its discovery.

          • Frank L. says

            BH, I think I must concede your point that my view of education would not sit well with most institutions of higher learning. That’s why I’m a pastor.

            However, I do not feel compelled to conform to the standards of an institution of higher (and I use that term because you used it not because I think it is descriptive of anything).

            My mandate is from God–the Highest Institution. I do not think scholarship such as you suggest is either particularly “high,” nor Godly. I think you assume that someone with a broad, open mind is to be preferred to one with a “narrow, restricted by God’s truth” mind. So, we are talking from totally different propositions I would suppose.

            This does not mean I wish you ill or that I am afraid to mingle with atheists. In fact, I probably spend more time as a pastor on the streets of my city discussing matters with atheists than you do in your Ivory Tower. Please do not take offense to that remark. I greatly appreciate men and women who give themselves to serious intellectual inquiry.

            It is almost like you and I live on different planets. So, I apologize if I do not quite resonate with your views. I did risk my life to preserve your freedom to believe as you wish, so I do greatly respect your right to your opinion.

            Thanks for the exchange. It allowed me to flex my intellectual muscles.

  22. Frank says

    Great post, Dave, though some may feel you simply stated the obvious.

    Some would question how anybody could see the situation any differently.

    One observation I have is that we have been in the thick of this battle (in a modern sense) since 1962 (Prayer, Bible reading and schools) and then Roe v. Wade intensified the attack by taking not just, spiritual and intellectual casualties, but flesh and blood ones.

    So, why is this not obvious to the Church At Large? Could it be we have become so “seeker-driven that there is more of the world in the church than there is church in the world?” Have we become “friends with the enemy?” Do we as the church seek the favor of government, rather than live in tension with the government?

    Definitely, we are not winning this battle in any way I see we (the Church) can measure.

  23. bapticus hereticus says

    My given name, tenure, higher-ed behavior, and posting in this forum are independent of each other; that is, one thing has nothing to do with the other, unless, of course, one wishes to suggest that they do. I guess bapticus hereticus is as unknown to you as volfan007 was and is to me both before and after he would write ‘David’ at the end of his post. But I don’t care if his name is volfan007 with or without ‘David’, given I respond to what he writes rather than interpret his responses by whatever name and/or moniker that he wishes to use.

    But, I will humor you. bapticus hereticus (and declared by another as bapticus hereticus normalus) is a name that I have used here and elsewhere as a baptist take-off on St. Hereticus, a moniker used by Robert McAfee Brown, Presbyterian minister, whom wrote for a good many years some insightful pieces for the Christian Century. Though there are many differences among us, the most important is that he was insightful and I am not. Nonetheless, on many occasions I have also used my name ‘Norm.’ Several posters on this board know who I am and do what they can to forget.

    But, the name. Some probably do think I am a heretic, and that is on a good day. But given this thread, it seems that I don’t always get it wrong (e.g., William’s comment above), to which I would build upon my old conversation partner’s comment: “seems, then, neither one of us gets it all wrong.” That’s the baptist way. For those that value being baptist, that is.

    • says

      bapticus hereticus – A while back a bloger made quite an issue of me not using my entire name and I had some reasons; which , changed . I’m not going to press you as I was pressed only to say that the bigger the man , not only the mightier his mouth , but the more appreciative of his learned opinion people can be – and if that is suggesting all those things you related are connected – then so be it. Regardless , you still can’t thumb your nose at people from inside your car and expect to get away with it – unless you live in a monestary.

      • bapticus hereticus says

        Jack, let’s not lose sight of this thread, and I will use the insight of William to help make the point: Evangelicals are not victims. Quite the opposite, evangelical Christians have an enormous amount of power in many societal venues, but sometimes when their reach is not successful, some cry ‘woe is me for what you are doing to Christianity.’

        In terms of thumbing one’s nose: I was educated in an SBC seminary, but apart from one with CBF affiliation, I don’t think I would be trusted with the position of worship-bulletin-handerouter. But I know that the church will take my money.

  24. says

    I tried to answer Wolford, and wondered at my computer acting up. As to thinking, it is obvious that some folks do not give much time to that exalted activity. God, however, sets it first in the requirement of repentance which is a change of mind based on reflection, a fact often overlooked in the rush to turn around (often without any of the requisite reflection required, something that was definitely stressed int he 1700s and to some extent in the 1800s). Much has been revealed about masonry by the masons themselves, and I always listen to them with a very attentive ear. And being a thinker I like to cross check,independently verify as much as possible, leaving that which cannot be verified by independent cross-checking for another time and place. And with that I will leave mr. Wolford’s views on masonry for what they are; those of an advocate.

    • says

      dr. James Willingham – I’m an advocate only of those masons that conduct themselves in an honorable manor – that being said you are correct. The Prince Hall Lodge schedules are posted in some black Baptist churches . Not many people will ever check that out. There is a Prince Hall Lodge on Route #58 west of Suffolk but before Emporia , and I know you are familiar with this area, and it’s a big wooden building with a masonic sign on the gables; but, the biggest clue will be the large croud gathered and the cars . Knowing your generous feelings for black people and your studies – you just pull right in there . There’s a cook-out going on probably after church . Tell the first guy you see that a ” blind friend friend told you who was very hungry to stop and eat “. I’ve never been in there but I’ve been in similiar situations elsewhere. Let me know if you get your wheels taken off your car – or at least how good the food and hospitality was.

  25. says

    Don’t quite know how to take you Jack. Seems like an undertone of sarcasm, a steely hardness, that I do not ordinarily detect in these blogs except for religious disagreements. Since I have no desire to get involved with you, I will forgo a reply on what you seem to be trying to stir. Not real sure I know about whereof you speak re: hwy 58 and Emporia and Suffolk. As to my training in Black History, I wrote a prospectus for a doctoral disseration in the field at Columbia U. in the Summer of ’71 and did my project for the Doctor of Ministry on Christian Love & Race Relations. God has a way of dealing with all situations.

  26. K Gray says

    Dave Miller – to the point of your post: we sure are not persecuted in the sense of the persecuted church around the world. What is at risk here is are wonderful privileges: constitutional rights that protect religious activity. So we have establishment, free exercise, speech, press and assembly. That’s why most of these cases will go to court. Perhaps some religious institution will rely on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which – I think – applies to the federal government.

    We are not so far down the road that reading aloud or distributing “offending” Bible passages is deemed unlawful. But we seem headed that direction.

  27. Bruce H. says


    You said in conclusion, “I’ve always been more on the “the church is not about politics” side of things.”

    Isn’t “politics” a “methodology” of trying to accomplish an agenda through the use of power, privilege, favors, secrets and influence? I do not see the church getting into politics necessarily, I see the church attacking politics. There is a difference. Of course, our “attack” is to be respectful, clearly spoken, biblically sound and matter of fact. Then all we need to do is “stand” and wait on God to respond.

  28. says

    To answer the Question asked in this BLOG – No , There is no war. It’s only the Calvinists fighting everyone with which they come in contact including each other.

  29. Christiane says

    I think that the Church can enter into politics by working to bring about a certain justice and peace among the people of a country that reflects the God-given dignity and worth of the human person.

    There are times when people who are minorities are attacked unfairly by those in power, and Christians can take their part and stand with them in solidarity, and be with them in witness to Our Lord Who loved and felt compassion for ‘the harassed’.

    And, in honor of the fact that the weakest and poorest among us are most dear to the Heart of God, Christian people have an obligation born out of love of Christ, to find ways to work in the public sphere to better the situations of those who are marginalized, so that they also may live with hope and dignity.

    Christians are not without ‘power’.

    It’s just that, in the Kingdom of God, the strongest ‘weapons’ are not necessarily the ones of politics or power.

    We have something far more effective than politics . . . we have our witness. We need to keep our witness to Christ the Lord as the one thing that really can make a difference that matters.
    If we forget that truth, our witness itself may suffer with our forgetting.

  30. Christiane says

    The ‘ancient enemy’ is not the ‘government’.
    We know who the ‘ancient enemy’ is. We just have to be sure that we do not become pawns on the wrong side of the battle. If we do, then the ‘ancient enemy’ will have triumphed over our witness to Christ. We must hold fast to the teachings of Our Lord in the Gospels. We must keep our eyes on Him. And not be distracted.

  31. Greg Harvey says

    “kill us, torture us, condemn us, grind us to dust; your injustice is the proof that we are innocent. Therefore God suffers (allows) that we thus suffer. When you recently condemned a Christian woman to the leno (pimp, i.e. accused her of being a prostitute) rather than to the leo (lion), you made confession that a taint on our purity is considered among us something more terrible than any punishment and any death. Nor does your cruelty, however exquisite, avail you; it is rather a temptation to us. The oftener we are mown down by you, the more in number we grow; the blood of Christians is seed.”

    Tertullian, Apology 197 AD

  32. Dave Miller says

    I would make a point in contradistinction to our friends on the left (BDW, the Baptist Heretic and Christiane).

    The premise of much of your argument here has been that Christianity is a majority religion in America and that therefore we shouldn’t complain like an oppressed minority.

    My point is likely not to please you, but I would say that Christianity is only a dominant religion in America if you include every group that calls itself Christian. Professing Christendom obviously is a majority.

    But the war of which I speak is against a much smaller segment of Christianity – what I would call biblical Christianity. Those of us who believe that the Bible is absolute truth, that Jesus is the only way to God, that other religions are false, that sex outside of a marriage between one man and one woman is an offense against God – what used to be called fundamental Christianity before that term was co-opted by KJV only legalists – we are a minority in America.

    The educational establishment, more liberal theologians and poiticians and their allies in the elite media do most definitely disdain this segment of Christianity.

    As long as Christians are willing to tolerate sin and false doctrine, affirm that other religions are just as valid as Christianity and keep our opinions to ourselves and out of the marketplace and public square, they will be accepted.

    The war is against Christians who believe the Bible to be true, Jesus to be the only way, sexual activity out of a monogamous, heterosexual marriage to be wrong.

    • Dave Miller says

      Oh, and who believe that abortion is the unjustified killing of a human being in their mother’s womb. Forgot that one.

  33. Dave says

    Taking up arms against an oppressive government is sin?


    Our Founders might be suprised to know that.

  34. Christiane says

    A helpful thought from the missionary order called the ‘Christophers':

    ‘better to light one candle
    than to curse the darkness’

    “the people living in darkness have seen a great light;
    on those living in the land of the shadow of death
    a light has dawned.”
    ( from St. Matthew’s Gospel 4:16)

    “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light:
    they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death,
    upon them hath the light shined.”
    ( from Isaiah 9:2)

    There is a huge difference between pointing to Christ
    and ‘cursing the darkness’ . . . that is something to think about

      • Christiane says

        yes, Father Keller borrowed the saying from the Chinese proverb and used it at the opening of his program ‘The Christophers’ all those years ago . . .

        the meaning of ‘Christopher’ is ‘bearer of Christ (Christ-carrier), and the mission of ‘the Christophers’ was to carry to others the light of Christ

  35. says

    It was the calvinsits who established religious liberty in law and practice, referring to Roger Williams and Dr. John Clarke in Rhode Island and to Elijah Craig, Samuel Harriss, and others in Va.(In the latter case, it was indirect. When Washington and Henry offered a compromise of making everyone the state church, the Presbyterians who had been cooperating with the Baptists up to that point thought that sounded good. The Baptists however held on their way, and as a result Jefferson got to write the religious liberty statute. It is Baptists who like to argue, nto just calvinists. Even John Wesley could get all riled up and did, and it was the calvinist Whitefield who sought reconciliation. And one of the key factors in the whole affair was Jonathan Edwards and his ride with Whitefield to the latter’s next appointment, during which he suggested he needed to stop needling the unconverted ministry issue, which later resulted in Whtiefield being willing to help Harvard raise money to replace its library that had burned. Basil Manly, Sr., and James Petigru Boyce were peaceful calvinists. I suspect that one of the reasons why Manly left FBC Charleston might have been due to a set-to over secession in the Calhoun period in S.C. He, surely, handled it with his usual delicacy, but some folks are never mollified when opposed.

  36. Bill Mac says

    By the way, Rick Santorum is proving himself to be a bit of a nut-bar. See is crazy comments about euthanasia. These guys get a little success and they lose their minds. No wonder we can’t field a candidate.