Sunday, July 17, 2016

I can see First Amendment danger clearly

A couple of seemingly unrelated news items caught my attention this past week.
First, the Iowa Civil Rights Commission announced it had changed its mind and would not require places of worship to allow self-identifying women who are actually men by birth, so-called transgender women, to use the women's restroom or transgender men to use the men's room.
Because of the commission's previous requirement to let men in women's restrooms, there had been some concern, enough for one Church of Christ to file a lawsuit. Churches would have been required to open up restrooms to all genders, the number of which has grown so far past the two that I learned as a boy that I can't keep track of them all.
The churches were concerned that the Iowa Civil Rights Commission would enforce a provision of the law that prohibits churches from making people feel unwelcome because of their sexual orientation. As many evangelical churches still teach that homosexuality is a sin against God, that provision of the law indicates that preachers may not speak against homosexuality.
The commission changed its brochures to note that places of worship are exempt from these provisions of the law. That new position, of course, could change with the printing of a new brochure.
So, in the United States of America, we are already beginning to see the possibility of government inserting itself into churches, despite the First Amendment.
The other news item that piqued my interest was from Moscow, where Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved a set of anti-terrorism laws that include bans on evangelism.
Nobody, not Russians and not mssionaries, can invite people to church or tell them about Jesus and his death on the cross as an atonement for our sins.
Christians can't talk about their faith in public places, in homes or online.
In other words, Jesus is for Sunday at church, not in your daily life outside the church. That's the way it is in Russia.
I can see the same thing happening here very easily. Can you not imagine an American anti-terrorism law that would prohibit evangelizing because we don't want ISIS recruiters to tell people how their faith calls them to kill infidels?
So, we are in danger of having the government prohibit any religious practice outside the church building. Plus we're in danger of the government telling us what doctrine we should teach and preach within the walls of the church building.
There goes part of the First Amendment.

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