The first half of the 1st Amendment reads: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . .
Let me repeat that second part: ". . . or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . . "
In the current societal environment our religious freedom is at stake. I understand that persecution is nothing new. Christianity, during the period of 100 A.D. to about 314 A.D. (a stretch of time known by many as the "Martyr Period") lost literally thousands and thousands of courageous people of faith during persecutions designed to wipe out Christianity from the face of the earth. But, instead of growing weaker during this period, Christianity actually grew stronger. The persecution separated the real from the false, the genuine from the fake. A true follower of Christ does not back down in the face of persecution, and gains strength in the face of it.
The Christian message really bothers some people in today's society. It bothers them that God-given absolute morality is being taught by Christianity, because it fails to validate their immoral activities; and it bothers them when true, Bible-believing Christians say, "Jesus Christ is the only way to the father," of which Jesus proclaimed himself in John 14:6 - "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." If you are a Bible-believing Christian, you can say no less.
This year, alone, we have seen in this country the Ten Commandments' presence on Court Buildings come under fire, Israel threatened as Christians worldwide are persecuted by Muslims, Communists, and Liberal Secularists, a possible return to the horrific practice of partial-birth abortion, the Pledge of Allegiance seriously targeted for removal (in some cases the words "One Nation Under God" specifically targeted), Churches intimidated into silence, Government-mandated speech through hate-speech laws being considered, and Christian literature coming under fire - specifically in Colorado.
In June of this year a new Colorado law forced Christians to teach biblical condemnation of homosexuality only behind the closed doors of churches. The law also made it illegal to deny a person access to public accommodations including restrooms and locker rooms, based on gender identity or the "perception" of gender identity - meaning it had become legal for men to enter and use women's restrooms and locker-room facilities without notice or explanation. In short, every female would have to fear a predator walking in and relieving himself in their presence.
The law provides an exemption for religion, as long as they teach the Bible's condemnation of homosexuality inside the doors of the church. However, at the time, religious publishers realized that in the fine print of the law they could be accused for "publishing" condemnation of homosexuality in their books, and even for publishing the Bible. The "public accommodations" clause also brought the fear that churches could be in danger should they deny use of a church's meeting rooms, auditorium, church schools, or recreation facility to anyone who are not in agreement with the church's religious beliefs.
Critics of the law stated that the intent of the law, which was pushed by homosexual activists, was to marginalize the church. Smaller churches would actually have to alter their programs for fear of the law, because the smaller churches do not have the resources to go to court to defend their beliefs.
Proponents of the law actually argued that the law didn't go far enough, and that they wanted Colorado's SB200 to also outlaw "bigotry" inside churches as well.
As stated by SlantRight.com, "Homosexual Activists can continue to do rallies anywhere in Colorado preaching their disgusting agenda. If a Christian protests he, she or they can be tossed into jail or fined or both under SB200."
Ultimately, the provision of the Law -- SB 200 -- that bans the distribution of any written material that discriminates based on "sexual orientation," which reads:
...any communication, paper, poster, folder, manuscript,
book, pamphlet, writing, print, letter, notice, or
advertisement of any kind, nature, or description which is
intended or calculated to discriminate or actually
means that a judge in Colorado has the power to ban the distribution of the Bible in that state!
In the meantime, the United Nations has its own Crackdown On Christians in the works, and currently the White House is reviewing this plan what would make Christians criminals under international law!
This plan is supported by the 57 members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and is called "Combating Defamation of Religions," and of course, Islam considers any disagreement with them "defamation."
The plan is essentially an attempt to institute sharia-based standards around the globe, and has been selectively and arbitrarily enforced most often against Christians. The plan establishes as the primary focus and concern the protection of ideas and religions generally, rather than protecting the rights of individuals to practice their religion. Specifically, according to the ACLJ, "this is a dangerous attack on faith that attempts to criminalize Christianity."
In the meantime, the perception of Evangelical Christians has become less favorable among young non-Christians, partially due to the constant negative portrayals of Christianity in the mainstream media. Christians, also, are largely to blame, for they have become luke-warm.
Christians have lost the skill of striking the right balance between grace and truth, proclaiming without the fruits echoing their words, and this is resulting in Christianity being purged from the public square. And to combat this, churches are beginning to water down the message. Universalism has crept into The Church. "Spiritual" no longer means "Christian," and "Religion" has become a man-made machine of confrontation.
The message simply is that Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life, and that path was provided by His sacrifice. Rejection of Christ is rejection of that gift.
If you wish to reject the Bible, and the Gift of God, that is your right. But the Gospel teaches that rejection of Christ separates you from the Father, and in turn will keep you out of Heaven. As a flawed species, we are unable to "Earn" our way to Heaven, hence the reason for the Gift through Christ.
A part of today's society has rejected that, and is intentionally ambiguous about faith. The trend is to believe that there is no right or wrong when it comes to some issues, or good and evil, for that matter. It is all up to the individual. Repenting is old-fashioned and so yesterday.
To long-time Christians, this is not a surprising development. There is ample evidence in Biblical Text that tells us the trends of the last days. But, as Christians, it is our task to pray for those that remain without Christ, and to spread the good news when we can. Persecution will come, but we must strengthen through it, as the "Paulicians" did. We must persevere, and continue to perform The Great Commission.
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