The Pilgrims boarded the Mayflower in search of one thing: religious freedom. Today, almost 400 years later, the United States has become an increasingly difficult place for Christians to work, be educated, and to serve one’s country. This has happened despite the statement found in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
In fact, First Liberty Institute’s 2017 report notes that in the past five years, documented attacks on religious freedom have increased 133%. In the past year alone, attacks have increased 15%. These attacks take place across broad sectors of the public arena, education, religious institutions and the U.S. military.
A case involving the public arena, Barton v. Balch Springs involved a Texas senior center in which city officials told the senior citizens that they could not pray before meals, listen to messages with religious content, or sing gospel music because public buildings do not allow religion. The senior citizens filed a law suit, and the government officials threatened to take away their meals if they won because praying over meals paid for by the government violated the “separation of church and state.”
In Pounds v. Katy I.S.D., a school district in the Houston area, banned religious Christmas items and religiously-themed Valentine’s Day cards. School officials told one student that she could not answer the question, “What does Easter mean to you?” with “Jesus.” A federal court ultimately ruled against Katy I.S.D., for their hostility to religion and for violating the student’s constitutional rights.
In Sterling v. United States, Montifa Sterling, a Marine Corps Lance Corporal, placed three notes in her cubicle which referred to the Bible verse: “No weapon formed against you shall prosper” (Isaiah 54:17). While her supervisor allowed the other service members to display personal items, he ordered Sterling to remove the notes. Sterling believed that her First Amendment rights protected her ability to post the notes, so when she found them in the trash the following day, she reposted them. As a result, Lance Corporal Sterling was court-martialed. The highest U.S. military court, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces believed the note to be minor and not meriting religious protection. First Liberty Institute is appealing the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
These examples, a small selection of over 1400 documented incidents, illustrate the direct assault on the constitutional rights of Americans. A combination of misinformation among the populous and lobbying efforts by atheist groups such as the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the American Humanist Association and the American Atheists have resulted in prayers being banned, Ten Commandments displays being made illegal and veterans memorials with crosses being torn down or moved.
The American Atheists claim to not be a religion, yet require equal representation of their “non-religion” at interfaith events and councils. Additionally, college campuses routinely list humanists, secularist, free-thinkers and agnostics among other religious groups.
Atheists accuse Christians of forcing their religion on others. Yet, atheistic secularism has been forcing students, military personnel, ministers and workers to adhere to their lack of belief standards or suffer the consequences. Far from learning to “coexist” as many bumper stickers advertise, atheist lobby groups seek nothing less than to persecute and destroy all religions except their own lack of one. Their absence of religion is their religion and their unrelenting desire to “convert” the rest of us is unconstitutional, intolerant and wrong.
The Pilgrims came here for religious freedom, not freedom from religion imposed on them by atheist lobby groups. The right to “not be offended” does not outweigh the right to practice one’s religion. Ironically, people rarely ask Christians if it offends them to have their child told he cannot pray. Christians have a right to believe in God, just as much as atheists have a right to believe in nothing. The assault on religious liberty only gains victory if people of faith choose fear over courage. As Ronald Reagan stated, “Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid.” While courage may cost social standing, job mobility or favor among others, ultimately standing tall in the face of evil gives others courage and reminds us of our purpose: to do the right thing, despite the consequences.
If you are experiencing religious persecution and need legal representation, contact these non-profit law firms:
Originally published on Patriot Post, September 20, 2017 as “Atheist Hypocrisy and the Assault on Religious Liberty.”
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In recent weeks, the world has watched those in Texas and Florida experience horrific rains and devastating damages to homes, vehicles and even lives. No one can deny the heroism of the first responders and regular Americans who have aided their neighbors in the midst of disaster. In addition, one industry has helped the rescue and recovery more than any other: the fossil fuel industry. Powering helicopters, generators and utility vehicles, fossil fuels continue to save the lives of those affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
In south Texas, diesel (or jet fuel) helicopters rescued people from their rooftops. Commercial planes, utilizing jet engine fuel, transported refugees from Houston to Dallas for shelter and food. Diesel-powered firetrucks and ambulances rushed to the aid of people, as did the National Guard and the Air Force’s diesel and jet-engine powered planes. After the waters receded volunteers drove their gasoline or diesel-powered vehicles to render aid to those in need.
When the power lines were down and parts of Texas and Florida lacked electricity, back-up generators, powered by diesel, natural gas, or LP fuel gave electricity to apartment residents, and patients in hospitals, many for whom a power outage could be deadly as patients on ventilators and dialysis require electricity.
As Texas and Florida rebuild their damaged cities, they continue to clear the road of debris using diesel-powered cranes and heavy equipment. They use gasoline-powered chainsaws to cut apart the fallen trees blocking the roads and diesel-powered trucks to haul it off. Utility companies use diesel- construction equipment to dig deep holes to plant new poles for power-lines and stand in diesel-powered cranes to attach the wires.
Hungry evacuees ate bread and peanut butter farmed by diesel-powered farm equipment, slept on cotton blankets harvested by diesel-powered equipment and drank bottled water produced in factories which use fuel not only to run their machines but to create the plastic bottles.
In addition, cell phones, computers and technology equipment have helped to keep people connected, and provided advanced warning systems to help people evacuate or take shelter. And fossil fuels? The microchip, the defining element of all computers and cellphones, is made from silica, a mineral mined by diesel-powered mining equipment.
Fossil fuel divestment campaigns, which seek to destroy the energy industry, advocate for people, corporations and endowments to sell their stock in petroleum based industries. They shout slogans like “People over Profit” and claim divestment as a moral obligation. Yet they ignore the reality of how fossil fuels, not divestment campaigns, put people over profit by saving lives. How we steward our resources to preserve human life stands as both the truly compassionate approach to putting people over profit and the greater moral obligation.
Some may say, “Great, but we are saving lives at the expense of the environment” thinking that we must choose between the environment and saving lives with fossil fuels. However, according to Forbes magazine, air pollution in the US has declined 72 % since 1970, in spite of a 47% total increase in energy use. This means that despite increased energy use, U.S. air pollution has decreased. Really? Yes. Because our technological advances have improved fuel-efficiency and cleaner internal machinery, causing less petroleum waste by-products in the air.
While wind, solar-powered and electric equipment certainly have their place, their functionality is no match for the fossil fuel powered equipment which have literally saved lives in recent weeks. No Tesla chainsaws or Prius helicopters saved the day. Technological advances, research and innovation should continue to take place, and we should always strive to create new products that help make our world a better place. But we should not forget the debt of gratitude that we owe to the petroleum industry for fueling our greatest needs in our time of disaster.
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Originally published on Patriot Post, September 14, 2017.