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Will Divided Republicans Continue to Protect Religious Liberty?
In order for politicians to believe that a principle is worth protecting, they have to believe that supporting it will lead to political power and influence. If politics is downstream from culture, then religion is upstream of culture. As the Scripture says, “judgment begins with the house of God.” Following the analogy of the stream, the path to ensure that religious freedom is supported by GOP candidates is as follows:
Religious Devotion - The faithful must believe their religious teaching transcends government decrees. We must obey God rather than people.
Cultural Support - Not to be confused with a culture that tolerates religion.
Political Viability - Supporting religion has to lead to rewarding politicians with power and influence.
But as we will see, the Church is lost, the culture is confused, and this leads to a divided Republican base and leadership that is obscure on the issue of religious freedom. If Christians are not loyal to God and His Church’s teaching, then we should not be surprised when the culture declares us hypocrites, and politicians cannot confidently defend what we desire for religious liberty. So, as the saying goes, if we want revival, revival has to start with us.
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Religious Devotion - Judgement Begins with The House of God
For it is time for judgment to begin, starting with the house of God. And if it starts with us, what will be the fate of those who are disobedient to the gospel of God?
1 Peter 4:17 (NET)
No matter which denomination you are in— not to be confused with your local church — there is a good chance that your denomination’s defense of marriage and the differences between men and woman has been inconsistent, or worse, heretical. Despite the denominations’ official positions, this remains a consistent pattern among the various traditions. This is leading to schisms and splits throughout the Christian world. In a nation that polls 80% Christian, we should not be surprised that the confusion in the culture goes back to the church. If the lighthouses go out, the world descends into darkness and finds itself dashed on the rocks.
For example, in 2017 the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) concluded a 5 year theological task force where they determined that they would remain together, but divided on the issue of male and female ordination. The debate about female ordination is not just an ACNA thing either. It was a recent controversy within the SBC as well. Either women can be ordained, and it is a fulfillment of God’s design for the church, or it is not. To affirm that you can be of “one mind” on a contradictory position is merely a means to temporary peace. It will not last.
Below is the introductory paragraph on the issue of female ordination.
PREAMBLE: In an act of mutual submission at the foundation of the Anglican Church in North America, it was agreed that each Diocese and Jurisdiction has the freedom, responsibility, and authority to study Holy Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition of the Church, and to seek the mind of Christ in determining its own convictions and practices concerning the ordination of women to the diaconate and the priesthood. It was also unanimously agreed that women will not be consecrated as bishops in the Anglican Church in North America…
Logically speaking, if one has the “freedom, responsibility, and authority…to determine its own convictions…” on ordination to the priesthood and diaconate, it will only take a few liberal bishops to change this fact. In short, this position is like a parent giving house rules to a child, and then telling the child that it is now his decision to follow those rules or make is own.
The document goes on to conclude that there is “insufficient scriptural warrant to accept women’s ordination to the priesthood as a standard practice throughout the Province…” This will be difficult to defend in light of the recent 2023 Kigali Statement, which re-affirmed the Bible as “God’s own authority”.
The Bible is God’s Word written, breathed out by God as it was written by his faithful messengers (2 Timothy 3:16). It carries God’s own authority, is its own interpreter, and it does not need to be supplemented, nor can it ever be overturned by human wisdom.
This is not intended to single out the ACNA. There are priests and deacons seeking to honor God on this issue and standing firm against the tide of liberal theology. Many are actively fighting and encouraging the faithful to remain true to their doctrine. But for the purposes of this article, the ACNA is unique. Its issue on female ordination coincidentally parallels what’s happening in the GOP on same-sex marriage. When people assemble under the same name, whether that be a political party or religion, but hold mutually exclusive positions, eventually someone wins and the losers have to find a new home. One need look no further than the SBC and Saddleback controversy earlier this year.
Are we surprised that there is confusion in the culture, when there is confusion in the church? “Woman,” the Church says, “we have no idea what you are, or how you fit into the church, and gosh darn it, we really don’t even know if you’re supposed to have kids and raise them or pursue a career. And if you have questions on the ethics of contraception, just ask your doctor because there’s no mention of it in the Bible. So, follow your heart. Go wherever your spirit leads.” Is it any wonder that things have crumbled so fast? Attack the role of men or women, and you ultimately crack the foundation of family and its value is called into question.
In a 2021 poll from Pew Research, only 34% of adults believe that people are “…better off” if they make “marriage and having children a priority.” Among Religious respondents, mainly Catholic and Protestant groups, 43% believed you were better off prioritizing marriage and family. Finally, and most relevant to our purpose is the Republican numbers, which landed right at 50%. This includes religious and non-religious individuals. This 50/50 split, which will be discussed in more detail, is a major factor in the candidates’ hesitance to integrate their definition of family with their definition of religious freedom.
Feminism did its job. It offered women an alternative that didn’t include men. As a result, it poisoned the view of marriage in the eyes of both men and women. It is not good for men to be alone, God said. But in today’s clown world, man looks at what women have become and says “No, it is good to be alone.” You shall be saved in childbearing, says God to the woman. “No, I will be saved by my individuality.” This is tragic, and as long as Christians continue to be cowards on their definitions and doctrines, the culture will continue to take our words and make them their own. Marriage will become whatever they feel it should be, children will be able to do whatever they want, and churches can shut up because they don’t know what they believe anyway.
The Culture - DeFamily or DeSurrogacy?
With these religious factors in mind, it’s uncertain the level of political unity and support Republicans will give to religious freedom. Now, they aren’t going to ever say “We don’t believe in religious freedom anymore.” Instead, they will treat it the way they did the abortion issue. Lots of talk, but little progress will be made on the issue. For example, Ron DeSantis’ latest statement on faith and family will lead optimists to disregard this analysis. Faith and family, are the “building blocks” of society, says DeSantis.
If a candidate is going to unite the word “family” with “faith, then the question “What is a family?” is not merely an ivory tower issue. In the same way God precedes creation, so marriage precedes family. If we change the definition of God to Gaia, it will have a cascade effect on our thinking about men, women, children, the Son of God, his Mother, and a whole host of other dogmas and morals. Therefore, it’s only logical that if marriage can be redefined arbitrarily, then so can family.
In light of this fact, it’s difficult to see how DeSantis can simultaneously defend religious liberty against gay activism, while also garnering support from gay-Democrat-turned-Conservative influencer Dave Rubin. For those that don’t know, Dave Rubin and his partner recently purchased and adopted two children via surrogacy. In the following video, Rubin explains how he defends DeSantis to his gay friends:
As an aside, Rubin openly discussed the surrogacy process with arguably the most famous clinical psychologist in the world, Dr. Jordan B. Peterson. You can hear that interview here. Regardless, of what you think about the morality of surrogacy and homosexuality, Rubin exhibited courage in discussing openly the whole process with Peterson. For that, anyone should be able to applaud him.
This doesn’t mean we should think that his participation in surrogacy was morally right; it was not. But the fact that surrogacy and IVF are becoming normalized only further illustrates the deep moral and spiritual confusion within culture. The whole techno-fertility industry (surrogacy, IVF, contraception), divorces man and woman from their God-given creative act, and in the case of surrogacy, separates the mom from her child for money. The children created in surrogacy are biologically hers and the sperm donor is the father. This creates massive confusion in the legal system where the child is the one who suffers most. Imagine being a test-tube baby of a marriage, gay or straight, where the relationship ends in divorce and no one wants the child. It’s tragic, and these cases are not mere conjecture. They have been well documented in the book, Contraception Deception by Patrick Coffin.
DeSantis rightly states that “faith” and “family” are the basis of society, but what a conservative Christian believes on these subjects is very different from what the LGBT community believes on these subjects. When we compare DeSantis’s statement on faith and family with Dave Rubin’s support for DeSantis, we can see that at some point the Republicans will fail one of the two parties involved. They will have to choose to support either the conservative gay rights advocates or the conservative religious advocates.
The confusion around family and religious creates real consequences. A recent case from the Beckett Law Firm, where a Catholic family was rejected from participating in the Massachusetts’ foster care system is a prime example.
In Burke v. Walsh, Mike and Kitty Burke wanted to foster and someday adopt children in need of a family. Even though Massachusetts has a foster care crisis, state officials refused to let the Burkes foster any children in the state. The reason was their religious beliefs about marriage, sexuality, and gender…
The couple’s home study said, “Their faith is not supportive.” DCF officials said that while they had strengths, their answers about sexuality and gender barred them from being licensed.
A few years ago, there was a case where the tables were turned. In this scenario it was the Catholic Social Services (CSS) on trial, “…because it barred same-sex couples from applying to become foster parents.” The CSS won the case with all justices siding with the Catholic adoption agency.
This reversal highlights that not everyone can win on the discussion around family, religious rights, and LGBT advocacy. As the LGBT lifestyle becomes more normalized, they will expect more cultural and religious representation. To be clear it is not that we can’t agree with those in the LGBT lifestyle on morality, economics, and politics. It’s that the conservatives and those outcast by the radical left are going into survival mode. While it is making for some unique alliances, it will come at the cost of watering down the importance of religious morality in the public square.
When we survey the conservative influencers, we see a wide spectrum of mutually exclusive beliefs. Whether that’s Dave Rubin and Andrew Klavan arguing for gay marriage, or Michael Knowles and Matt Walsh arguing against it, or conservative commentators having multiple marriages that end in divorce, the right is in a state of moral confusion on faith and family. As DeSantis said, these are the “building blocks” of society, but a house divided cannot stand, and a foundation divided never gets a house. Is there a way forward for conservative religious and conservative LGBT? I think so, but that is a article for another time. For the time being, the fissure is widening.
Polls, Influence, and Corruption
We have established that confusion in the church is leading to moral confusion in the culture. The diversity of conservative influencers and their views demonstrates this. This will have an impact on what positions Republican representatives view as politically viable. If only 1% of Republicans believe religious freedom is important, then Republicans will not fight for it. Candidates get into politics and support causes that they believe will lead them to victory. They will not champion losing issues. This not wrong, its just politics.
When we survey the data on Republican voters, it’s clear that GOP candidates have a difficult road ahead on religious freedom. And if you needed any proof of the divide, just take a look at GOP Representative Max Miller’s response to a pro-life Christian who stated that Jesus is the only means of salvation. He called her statement bigoted and demanded she remove it. He later apologized, but as a candidate he revealed what he believes about Christians who believe, well, what Christians have always believed: Jesus is the only way to heaven, and they should tell people that. If the divide on religious freedom issues was fractured within the GOP, candidates would never dream of shaming their constituents this way.
According to Pew Research from November 2022, over 61% of American’s say that the legalization of gay-marriage is “very good” or “somewhat good”. This means on a raw numbers level, a GOP candidate is already at a disadvantage on an issue that is most threatening to religious liberty. Pew also reported the following:
There are wide ideological differences within both parties. Two-thirds of conservative Republicans (66%) view the impact of same-sex marriage negatively. Nearly the same share of moderate and liberal Republicans (62%) take a positive view.
This means that within the Republican tent, there is a radical divide on the issue. To make matters worse, 63% of young Republicans (18-29), think its a good thing that same-sex marriage was legalized. When you look at Democrats, they were way more united than the conservatives on the issue. According to Pew,
Among Democrats, liberals overwhelmingly view the legalization of same-sex marriage positively (93%), while a smaller majority of conservative and moderate Democrats (69%) say the same.
A house divided cannot stand. Why? Because enemies typically unite when they see division in their opponent’s ranks. Finally, when we look at Catholics and Protestants on the issue, we see data that justifies the spiritual confusion we said has bled into the culture. Reporting from Pew again,
Opinions about the effect of same-sex marriage vary widely among religious groups. While 71% of White evangelical Protestants say the legalization of marriage between same-sex couples is bad for society, 62% of White non-evangelical Protestants say it is good. So too do about two-thirds of Catholics (66%) and a much larger majority of religiously unaffiliated adults (82%). In contrast, Black Protestants are closely divided on same-sex marriage: 49% say it is good, while 46% say it is bad.
Is it any wonder that DeSantis or Ramaswamy, the two candidates attempting to overtake Trump, are having to walk a tight rope between Christian and LGBT beliefs about religious freedom? Do we know what these candidates mean by “family”, “faith”, or “gay rights”? Do the Christians within their voter block know what these terms mean? If you ever find yourself at a rally, you ought to ask them to define these things. But given the state of affairs, one can understand why Max Miller attempted to shame a Christian for her faith on Twitter.
Religious reformations typically lead to moral reformations. America is facing a religious reformation, as demonstrated by the wavering leaders across all denominations. cultural influence, and political parties. Combine this with the corruption of government, the power of Big Tech and Big Money to de-platform or de-bank their opponents, and the path of what is right and true is quickly becoming the path of resistance, which most GOP candidates will quietly avoid. We religious conservatives must get vocal and demonstrate that we are worth defending politically, and that our beliefs about family and faith are actually better for society.
Many discuss the metaphysical relationship between feminism and the LGBT movement, which I find compelling. But this presumes that immorality is like morality, in that it is linear. While morality is like an ascending a mountain, immorality seeks to keep you in the plains where it can scatter you whichever direction you desire.
While Rubin and others have made their choices, Christians have made it easy for them to do so. Marriage is the foundation of family, and family is the basis for society. It is the peak we ought to aim at, but sadly only ~30% of Americans are. When family is subverted and its meaning changed, it is not that we descend a slippery slope hitting each vice on our way down: feminism, lust, adultery, homosexual tendencies, multiple partners, transgenderism, pan-sexualism. It’s that marriage confines our desires and protects us from desires for vice. Undirected desire will subdue the intellect and ravage the will. Desire and the will then become indistinguishable, and it takes our body where it wills.
Being virtuous is difficult. But by the graces of God, one can obtain a moral and upright life. But it is hard, and not something acquired by talent. As Venerable Fulton Sheen said,
Any sinner is capable of being a great saint, and any saint is also capable of being a great sinner. The secret therefore of character development is the realization of this power that there is in each and every one of us for good and for evil. The Good Lord would have us lay hold of what is worst in ourselves. Do not think that people who have virtue and kindness, and other great talents, just came by these things naturally. They had to work at them very hard…
Rights are transactional. Meaning, whether there is a law protecting your freedom of religion or not does not change the fact that you can indeed exercise it. We serve God, not man. When a government commits to protecting a God-given right, they are making it, politically speaking, cost less for you to exercise it. It’s cheaper to exercise that right in America than it is to exercise it in North Korea. At least, for the time being.
May God help us in this fight against the darkness, and may our lights shine on the hill knowing all that may come against us. Should evil attempt to extinguish our light, it will only fan the flames revealing God’s glory and his desire to restore the sinner to his place in the Kingdom of God.
So how do we work hard? For starters, we must become visible to the public. This must start in our churches. If your pastor is scared to confront these issues, it’s likely because he does not know if he will have support from the congregation. Our church leaders need encouragement, especially these days, to stand firm in the faith and laws of God.
Second, open your home to those in your church and community that recognize the times in which we fight for freedom. When your group discovers there is a court hearing on religious liberty in your state, you show up in prayerful support of all those involved in the trial, the accusers and the accused.
Third, we must not hide in our churches and homes. We must begin to remind people of the laws of God, even if it means we lose our careers. Suffering for the truth is a part of the Christian way, as the bible and the saints throughout history testify. The older must support the younger, as it is the younger that must take up the cross and burdens of firing from their jobs, cultural exile, and potentially jail time (see Michigan’s latest attempt to make speech illegal).
These are by no means the only things we can do, but they are a start. Comment below with ideas for getting the faithful more outspoken and in the physical public square, not merely the digital one.