Commentary: Supreme Court justice warning about religious liberty

  |  Source: Denison Forum

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According to Belgian tradition, Santa Claus lives in Spain but visits their country each year on the morning of December 6, walking on their rooftops to drop gifts into their chimneys.

Coronavirus restrictions were posing a problem for this year’s visit, however. So, government officials made some exceptions: Santa will not be required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, and he can work during evening curfew hours.

Nonetheless, officials encouraged St. Nick to “always respect distancing, wash hands regularly, and wear a face mask” over his long white beard. And they are hoping in this difficult year, he will be lenient in gift giving. “Every kid here is a hero,” they assured him. “So, for once, you don’t have to check it in your big book.”

“For many, religious liberty is an excuse for bigotry”

Unlike the Belgian approach to Christmas, worldwide government opposition to religious liberty seems to be escalating. Pew Research Center reports the highest level of global government restrictions on religion in a decade. Since 2007, when Pew began its survey, the median level of government restrictions has risen 65 percent, and the level for social hostilities has doubled.

This issue came home for American Christians recently when Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito stated during a keynote address to the Federalist Society: “It pains me to say this, but in certain quarters, religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored right.”

Citing the Little Sisters of the Poor (who refused to allow their health insurance plan to provide contraceptives), Ralph’s Pharmacy (whose owners refused to provide abortifacient drugs), and Masterpiece Cakeshop (whose owner refused to create a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding), he observed: “For many today, religious liberty is not a cherished freedom. It’s often just an excuse for bigotry, and it can’t be tolerated, even when there is no evidence that anybody has been harmed.”

Justice Alito added: “Even before the pandemic, there was growing hostility to the expression of unfashionable views. And that, too, was a surprising development. Here’s a marker: In 1972, the comedian George Carlin began to perform a routine called ‘The Seven Words You Can’t Say on TV.’ Today, you can see shows on your TV screen in which the dialogue appears at times to consist almost entirely of those words.

“Carlin’s list seems like a quaint relic, but it would be easy to put together a new list called ‘Things You Can’t Say if You’re a Student or Professor at a College or University or an Employee of Many Big Corporations.’ And there wouldn’t be just seven items on that list—70 times seven would be closer to the mark.

“I won’t go down the list, but I’ll mention one that I’ve discussed in a published opinion: You can’t say that marriage is the union between one man and one woman. Until very recently, that’s what the vast majority of Americans thought. Now it’s considered bigotry.”

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You “have” eternal life

Let’s note this fact: What matters most to Christians cannot be taken from us.

Enemies of the gospel could imprison the first Christians, but they could not stop their movement. They could take their lives, but they could not threaten their eternal lives. That’s because, contrary to what many people think, eternal life does not begin when we die.

Jesus said of himself, “Whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, my emphasis). Note the present tense.

The moment we ask our Savior to forgive our sins and become our Lord, his Spirit comes to dwell in us (1 Corinthians 3:16). As a result, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17, my emphases).

How should we respond to this fact?

For more, see my latest video, “What does the Bible say about eternal life?

Jim Denison is the co-founder and chief vision officer of Denison Forum. He pastored churches in Texas and Georgia and now speaks and writes to empower believers to navigate cultural issues from a biblical perspective.

Supreme Court justice warns religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored right: What matters most cannot be taken from us was first published in The Daily Article by the Denison Forum. Daily Articles are republished in the Baptist Standard under agreement with Denison Forum and are not intended to represent the Standard’s views.

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