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Special Interest Groups Moving the Goalposts on Religion

There is an enormous chasm between policy-centered political fights on issues such as tax rates, education policy and healthcare policy, and the growing fight to preserve religious liberty in our beloved country.

The effort to divide and silence Christians by a small, but vocal and powerful, collection of interest groups, is gaining strength. I fear that we are rapidly approaching a tomorrow where generations-old beliefs in the teachings of Christ will be used as a reason to stigmatize, punish, and divide his followers tragically, in a country founded by brave men and women escaping faith-based persecution.

I am increasingly worried about this small, but powerful, group of organized interest groups and their intimidation tactics. These groups are attacking anyone they unilaterally declare to be an enemy of their cause, despite any evidence of intention to cause harm. I am also concerned about the desired ends that these groups seek to achieve. It seems as if they have moved their goalpost closer—from dangerous ideological suppression, to the extremely dangerous realm of forced ideological conformity.

Being personally attacked and smeared by these organized groups for being a Christian or a conservative is a sad state of affairs, but it has become the price of doing business and it’s already baked into the cake for Christians and conservatives in the political arena. Apparently this attack and smear strategy is no longer satisfactory for the division warriors on the Left as they have now resorted to the use of government force. As we saw with the recent Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act debate, and the subsequent calls for violence against an Indiana pizza place that didn’t toe the ideological line, along with the recent bombshell report that Oregon state officials colluded with interest group activists against private business owners, the rules of engagement for the organized Left’s activist front have devolved.

I am not a preacher, and I am not trying to frighten anyone. But, I am sounding the alarm because we are not doing enough to fight back. We have allowed these interest groups to use isolated examples of sinful behavior by many Christians as a weapon in their war against any standards AT ALL. It is telling that Christ chose as messengers Paul, who hunted down and persecuted Christians, and Peter, who in a moment of weakness would deny Christ three times. Although I dare not pretend to understand the motivations of The Lord, I cannot help but believe that he came here not to speak against sin, but to forgive, and to save the sinner.

I am a sinner. I have failed many times as a friend, a brother, a son, a father, and a husband. I have never forgiven myself for those failures and I never will. But I will never allow my failures to separate me from The Lord, nor will I use them as an excuse to disavow the high standards The Lord asks of us, despite my many failures to meet them.

Speaking out to spread The Word, and to share the immeasurable value of benevolent sacrifice is not our attempt to judge the soul of another. This simple fact is often confused within the activist community wishing to condemn Christians. Spreading The Word, even by the sinner trying to reclaim his own soul, is an attempt to spread The Word of Christ, not of man. This isn’t an act of judgment, because that is exclusively the domain of The Lord. But it is an act of faith.

We also have to do a better job of weeding out the false prophets of our movement. Although we are all sinners, it is not our duty to follow those motivated by self-aggrandizement or riches and wealth, rather than those with a genuine desire for a better tomorrow through The Lord’s guidance. We should seek out those who fall short but consistently get back up and learn from those failures, using those experiences to guide their future efforts and sacrifices, as the people we can get behind.

To conclude, this devolution from a civil debate about religion and spirituality, to personal smear attacks, to the co-opting of government force and the acceptance of violence as a legitimate means of forced coercion to your ideological goals, is truly frightening. Conservatives and Christians are not the only people frightened by these developments. As reported this past week by the left-leaning online outlet Vox, even liberal professors on college campuses are under assault and risk their livelihoods for presenting material that challenges far-left dogma. Sadly, many of the pre-existing biases against Christians and conservatives have blinded liberals to the incremental damage being done to their freedoms during this slow march towards attempted ideological conformity. Now that many of them are under attack I’m hoping that they will join forces with conservatives and Christians, hardened from this ongoing fight, and stand up for the right to speak out, and the right to follow their own spiritual path.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the Conservative Review. The featured image is by Bill Clark | AP Photo.