Of Religious Liberty
Religious liberty refers to (1) Freedom of Religion and (2) Freedom from Religion.
These ideas together form the basis for religious tolerance. Religious tolerance is not complaining or blocking another person from believing and/or practicing his or her religious preference privately or in non-religious public institutions so long as there is no physical harm. Religious tolerance does not keep one from speaking against or standing against another’s religious beliefs and practices at an appropriate time and place and in an appropriate way.
Religious tolerance is not a requirement of public religious institutions since such institutions exist to teach, practice, and promulgate specific religious doctrines. Yet, such institutions should practice a loving measure of religious tolerance that is not injurious to the religious institution.
One purpose of Religious Liberty is to protect and guard against having to partake in another person’s sin.
It does not give one the right to stop or block another person from sinning. That is, religious liberty applies to the process; it is not intended to prevent at all cost the result desired by a customer/client.
One purpose of preaching is to change the person’s heart and mind so there is no longer a desire for an unrighteous result.
But note that preaching and religious liberty are complimentary actions; they are not mutually exclusive.
So then a person with religious concerns has two fundamental choices:
(1) Resign his or her position
(2) Raise a valid religious liberty objection
A. In a biblical sense, to partake in sin requires knowledge of the intent or actual committal of the sin and is to:
(1) do the specific sin oneself along with another person
(2) explicitly receive the person’s act as righteous and thus encourage him to do or continue in the act
(3) communicate happiness that the person intends or has committed the sin
(4) authorize the person to do the sinful act
B. With respect to same sex marriage and homosexuality:
(1) to authorize or require issuance of a marriage license to a same sex couple is to partake in their sin.
(2) to communicate happiness and agreement with the legalization of same sex marriage is to partake in the sin of any such marriage
(3) to tell a homosexual that they should have a legal right to marry is to partake in their sin if they so marry
(4) to support or allow adoption of children by a homosexual couple is to partake in their sin
(5) to support or allow assignment of foster care children to a homosexual couple is to partake in their sin
(6) to file or record a marriage license in a data system or cabinet is not to partake in their sin
(7) to rent or sell permanent or temporary housing to a homosexual couple is not to partake in their sin
(8) to issue government benefits is not to partake in their sin as benefits are given to meet the needs of a claimed dependent. The government restricts who one can claim as a dependent. But that restriction is a matter of government decision.
The government could expand the pool of claimants to cousins for example. The government does not do so because of monetary concerns. Moreover, the benefit is given despite the sin not because of the sin. The purpose of the benefit is not to reward nor validate the sin but rather to take care of human basic needs. For example, the purpose of giving social security benefits from a deceased legal spouse account is not to reward the sin but rather to provide financial support to the livelihood of the remaining legal spouse. As indicated above, the government could allow a person to declare a cousin to receive their social security benefits; the government does not do so due to monetary resource concerns.
(9) to issue employer healthcare benefits is not to participate in the employee sin since the purpose of the healthcare is not to reward or validate the sin but rather to provide for the healthcare needs of a human associated with the employee. The above discussion on government benefits regarding human relationship (e.g., cousins) and the nature of the benefit apply also to employer benefits.
(10) to provide wedding photography, wedding food/catering/cake, wedding transportation and similar services to homosexual wedding events is not to partake in homosexual sin. Providing such services does not authorize nor does it necessarily indicate one’s agreement with the homosexual activity. Business owners should be able to state in their contracts their position on such issues. They should also be able to post in their stores and on their websites, etc. their position if they so desire.
Moreover, because there is a close nexus between providing such services and the evil of homosexuality, the business should be able to decide based on individualized religious conscience whether to provide such services. But there is no nexus to serving a same sex couple at a restaurant when the restaurant is not asked to do so specifically in honor of the wedding. In the lack of such a nexus, the restaurant should be required to service the couple; the same goes for other services. The provisions of this paragraph is highly different from refusing to provide service to an interracial couple. The reason for the
difference is that there is no nexus to evil. The reason there is no nexus to evil is that an interracial marriage is not evil even if some racist think it is.
C. With respect to other matters:
(1) to provide, pay for, or refer a person for abortion services, including abortive contraception, except where the life of the mother is clearly in danger is to partake in sin
(2) to provide, pay for, or refer for non-abortive contraceptive services is not to partake in sin. To provide such service is not to authorize nor does it necessarily intend to encourage sexual activity. It merely provides the receiver with the privacy and liberty to choose to use the contraception for righteous or unrighteous purposes without having to reveal
details of their lifestyle and medical condition. For example, suppose a spouse has contracted a disease in a sexual organ for which a contraceptive device provides a measure of protection to the other spouse, then a spouse should be able to use his or her healthcare plan and/or other sources to procure appropriate protection. In all cases, such services may include education on alternatives and procedures for avoiding perceived or actual need for contraception. Any employer should be able to include such training as part of its human resource and financial management programs, including discouraging and warning against sexual activity by single persons. We should be mindful that God gives people, single or married, the liberty but not the right to sin; we should so do as well. This is why giving a same sex couple a form without an authorizing official name/signature is not to authorize a same sex marriage. On the other hand to affix an official’s name/signature is to authorize the same sex marriage. The former gives them the liberty to sin and provides a uniform method for tracking and filing both righteous and unrighteous marriages. The latter actually authorizes the sin and therefore partakes in it. Similarly, giving a conceptive service/device gives the person the liberty to sin if they so do. It does not authorize them to sin.
A 2013 Hobby Lobby US Supreme Court decisionsupports the right of closely held for profit corporation not to provide certain contraceptive services.
D. To fail to tell a person that an act is sinful when they know or should know it is wrong is not to partake in that person’s sin.
Scriptures: Genesis 12:10-20; 1 Corinthians 5:2, 6; Romans 1:32; Romans 12:9; Ephesians 5:7; 1 Timothy 5:22; 1John 2:10; 2John 1:10-11; Revelation 2:14
The US Constitution was ratified on September 17, 1787. This constitution contained the no religious test clause in Article VI. On September 25, 1789 the Bill of Rights was added. The Bill of Rights is the first 10 Amendments to the US Constitution. Amendment 1 addresses religious liberty.
Article. VI. – Debts, Supremacy, Oaths of the base US Constitution says:
“The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
The First Amendment of the Constitution reads as follows:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging freedom of speech; or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Such a peaceable assembly can be a person of 1 wherever that person declares his or her religious liberty right.
Religious liberty refers to (1) Freedom of Religion and (2) Freedom from Religion. These ideas together form the basis for religious tolerance. Religious tolerance is not complaining or blocking another person from believing and/or practicing his or her religious preference privately or in non-religious public institutions so long as there is no cause to physical harm.
Amendment 1 guarantees both Freedom of Religion and Freedom from Religion. In the First Amendment Freedom from Religion is found in the phrase “respecting an establishment of religion” and Freedom of Religion is found in the phrase “prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.
Freedom from Religion guarantees a person the right to be free from having to conform to another person’s religion or the lack thereof. Freedom of Religion guarantees a person the right to choose and practice his chosen religion or none at all without interference or pressure from another. That is to say, religious liberty is a natural right that no government, person, or other entity has the rightful authority to deny.
It is reasonable to conclude that both Freedom of Religion and Freedom from Religion may be reasonably limited by governments and other entities. The purpose of such limitations is to strike a reasonable balance between private/personal/individual interest and public/society/group interest.
It is important to strike a godly reasonable balance between freedom from religion and freedom of religion.
Atheist and agnostic give greater weight to the freedom from religion part of the 1st Amendment religion clause. Some Christian may also do so yet to a lesser degree. Others rightly give greater weight to the freedom of religion part while honoring the freedom from religion part.
There are various Forms of Government in the world.
The American form of government is secular democratic as set forth and promoted in the American Federal Constitution.
This is seen in the absence of any reference to God in the Constitution itself. It is further seen in Amendment 1 and the no religious test provision of Article VI .
This is consistent with the Bible. For the New Covenant provides the people with liberty to make choices not available under the Old Covenant Theocracy. The scriptures say “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; (32) And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32) And the scriptures say “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage… For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:1, 13) So then although God gives us liberty we are to use that liberty in obedience to his Will, Word, and Way.
So then although the American form of government is democratic, it need not disregard God in its laws and other decisions. Indeed, it should respect and regard God in its laws. It should do so in such a way so as not to take away the liberty of the non-believer yet not allow the non-believer to take away its right to be faithful to God in all of its laws.
Yet, if the government refuses to obey God, it should at least provide its employees and citizens of the nation the religious liberty not to participate in ungodly laws and yet retain employment and citizenship. Is such easy to do? No it is not for whenever one introduces wickedness into the equation, complexity and difficulty arises. Yet, it can be done though great prayer and creative effort are necessary. For all Christians should stand with the apostles who simply said to the social, political, and religious leaders: “we would rather obey God than men.” (Acts 4:19-20; 5:29). And as 1 Peter 4:16 says: “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”
Yet, if the government does not provide such religious liberty, the US Constitution Amendment 1 permits the people to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress to provide such religious liberty. Such a peaceable assembly can be a person of 1 wherever he/she declares a religious liberty right, even on the job.
The basis for a religious liberty claim must consider the exercise of natural rights and legal rights. Legal rights are also called civil rights. Religious liberty claims arise due to actual or perceived tension between natural rights and legal rights.
Natural rights derive from nature and nature’s God. Natural rights transcend nations, societies, and generations. In the US Declaration of Independence these natural rights are called inalienable rights. Legal rights often derive from court rulings, customs, statutes, laws, of a society.
Religious liberty only applies to unrighteous laws. For more information on righteous, unrighteous, and natural laws see Righteous, Unrighteous, and Natural Laws
Note that religious liberty is an individual right; it is not a group right. It is not transferable to another person. It is an individual rather than group right since individuals within a given constituted group may differ as to religious conscience. That is, I personally have to discourage and personally warn and reprove. The church activity to which I belong is insufficient for that.
The fact that religious liberty is an individual right is the reason we cannot say that church opposition is sufficient to fight the battle for religious conscience. Indeed, church organizations/denominations differ on various religious issues.
This is not to say that churches should not warn and reprove as the Bible warns and reproves. However, the fact that the church and Bible warns and reproves is not sufficient reason to deny religious liberty; this is true even though everyone in America has access to a church and Bible. It is important that the church outreach to the community. Yet, ignorance is no excuse says the Lord and the Law.
A person raises a valid religious liberty objection so as not to participate or partake in providing the product or service under the conditions that raise religious concerns.
In the case of a religious liberty objection, religious liberty requires that alternatives sources of products and services be identified, employed, and accepted by both government authorities and client/customers when other sources are available, it is a violation of religious liberty for either government or the public to demand products/services be provided by a particular source objecting on reasonable religious grounds.
If a person makes a religious liberty claim in a sincere objection to performing a duty or act that qualifies as partaking in a sin as described above, neither a government authority nor an individual citizen has the Federal Constitutional authority or right to compel that claimant to perform such a duty or act.
One may be tempted to consider including words of warning and discouragement directly or indirectly to someone to be a way to practice religious liberty so as to satisfy ones religious conscience. One may consider including words that state one is not authorizing, is in disagreement with, and is merely bearing witness to the government’s authorization of an action which one reproves.
One may be tempted to think well I am not endorsing the act but rather doing all of this as an agent of the State as part of my job and not of my on desire. However, none of this is sufficient if one still participates in the action directly or indirectly; such participation means one is partaking in the sin. Indeed, one must not be an agent of the state in assisting the state in doing eveil.
For example, if one places or authorizes his or her name to be placed on the same sex license as an authorizing official even as an agent of the state, then one has partaken in the sin of same sex marriage including its far reaching effect on other’s religious liberty. For one has chosen to obey man rather than God (Acts 5:29).
Even human law recognizes this fallacy and the weakness of such an argument. For if I say to the judge “Sir, I told Joe not to kill Jim but I still gave him my gun knowing he planned to kill Jim”. Would not the judge still charge me with accessory before the fact?
So then if I obey an ungodly command from a superior person or institution am I not still guilty of partaking in the sin of that superior or institution? Would this not be true regardless of what statement I make regarding my disagreement with the ungodly command.
The fact that I obeyed makes me guilty. This is why scriptures records with respect to the apostles conversation with the Chief Priests and Sanhedrin Council:
“But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.
(20) For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20)
And also the scriptures record “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)
Religious liberty only applies to unrighteous laws. Therefore, accommodation for religious liberty is only applicable when the law legalizing a product or service is an unrighteous law. Accommodation is not applicable when the applicable law is a righteous law. So for those concerned religious liberty could rightly be used to rollback gains made by Blacks in America in the area of civil rights, no such religious liberty claim could rightly be made and should be denied. For more information on righteous, unrighteous, and natural laws see Righteous, Unrighteous, and Natural Laws
If a person makes a sincere religious liberty claim government authorities shall make allowances for someone else willing to perform the duty or act. The government authority shall not impose any contemporaneous or future penalty on the claimant based on the religious liberty claim. Individual citizens shall seek products and services elsewhere within the city, county, state, or nation or online if a government official or business owner makes a sincere religious liberty claim.
For example, some states such as North Carolina have passed laws allowing state officials to opt out of issuing marriage licenses if they have a religious objection to issuing same sex marriage licenses. To avoid discrimination claims, this also means they cannot issue heterosexual licenses. Procedures are provided so other persons would be available to issue such licenses. It is unclear if such laws will hold up in the US Supreme Court, however.
At least one Alabama State Senator has proposed a Bill to take the state out of the business of issuing marriage licenses. There is a proposal to let the matter be a civil contract between persons. One judge in Alabama has proposed that the Federal Government issue marriage licenses instead of States.
In exercising religious liberty one should be mindful that the Federal Constitution and Laws have precedence over a State Constitution and Laws even if a State has not yet updated its Constitution and Laws to reflect Federal rulings.
In the case of a religious liberty objection, subordinates are to raise their own religious objection; the superior cannot raise it for subordinates. Yet, a group of persons (superiors and/or subordinates) may collectively document and raise religious objections.
If a superior makes a religious liberty claim based on freedom of religion, a subordinate may make a religious liberty claim based on freedom from religion, i.e., freedom from the religion of his superior. In such a case the claimant to religious liberty relinquishes all authority to direct subordinates and others regarding the specific matter. This is because religious liberty is an individual right and each affected person must choose to claim or not claim religious liberty regarding a specific matter. Moreover, a superior in a government or other non-church assembly/organization has no responsibility for a subordinate’s soul. That subordinate should be part of a spiritual assembly with pastors or other ministers who watch out for that subordinate’s soul.
So then if a superior refuses to perform a duty or act under a religious liberty claim, a subordinate may choose to perform the act or duty without interference from the superior if that act is part of the subordinate’s normal duties. In such a case the subordinate must otherwise have legal authority assigned through a court order or statutes to perform the duty or act. This legal authority may be concurrent with the superior’s delegated authority or activated upon the refusal or other inability of the superior to perform the duty or act.
If the subordinate’s authority is not court ordered or statutory but is strictly based on internal delegation of authority by the superior then the superior may with religious integrity delegate the authority to the subordinate to choose or not choose to perform the duty or act. Thus, the subordinate may claim or not claim religious liberty. In so doing the superior does as God did when he gave Adam and Eve the choice to eat or not eat.
All of us might handle a religious conscience issue differently. Yet, we ought to applaud all who make a stand for right even if they make that stand different from what we would do. Indeed, religious liberty is an individual right and each individual is to decide for his or herself what one must do to satisfy his or her personal conscience.
To God Be the Glory!
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