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« Why We Need to Go Back to Basics and Make a Case for Our Worldview | Main | Where Do Unbelievers Go Prior to the Judgment? »

June 04, 2016


In American people have the right to be non-Christian. In other words, they have the right to live in sin. You are free to witness to them and plead with them, and show them a good example, but in the end you must allow them to sin. You can't use the force of law to stop people from sinning, if that's what their deeply held beliefs tell them to do.

I know what various Christian commenters will say - what about theft and murder? Should those not be illegal?

The difference is that nobody thinks theft and murder are virtuous. Theft and murder aren't part of anyone's deeply held beliefs. Thieves and murderers know they're doing wrong - unless they're insane, and that's a special case.

You Christians who are Americans need to respect your own founding principles and allow your non-Christian neighbors all the freedoms you enjoy.

Gay marriage is a perfect example, because Christians don't own the institution of marriage. Christian marriage is fine for Christians, but you can't impose it by law on non-Christians. If you try to do so, you're violating the basic principles of freedom and equality that make America great.

Another example is Christian proselytizing by teachers and administrators in public schools or in government institutions. If I were Christian and American, I would feel horror at such betrayal by my fellow citizens. Christians themselves should be the first to stand up and protest when the government tries to impose an official religion on its citizens.

A lot of Christians might be wondering how they can fully participate in their own democratic government if they can't act in line with their deeply held beliefs. The answer is simple: Just focus on improving the economy. Build roads and bridges; help the poor and the sick; improve education and opportunities for young people. That kind of thing. That's what government is really for.

Yes, the purpose of government is just to build prosperity here on Earth. That's a project everyone can get behind. Christians can help with that too, even while looking forward to eternity in heaven later on. There's no contradiction.

John B. Moore,
What a fine post to get the mind activated for a Saturday!
I can’t tell you where I would disagree with you more. Pick a spot.
“teachers and administrators in public schools or in government” ≠ “the government tries to impose an official religion on its citizens.”
Heavens, none of these fine people are members of the federal gov’t, but chosen by the local gov’t to affect the interests of the community, not the nation. This leads to a number of questions:
1. What of a teacher’s honest response to some religious question?
2. What of a student who seeks to deride Christianity? Doesn’t the Christian teacher have the rights to give response? Thankfully, administrators won’t have the right to place these students in detention (we all have the right to hold and express our personal opinions). But with that said …
3. Does the gov’t have the right to censor thought and censure the thinker?
4. In the realm of the committed statist, does church threat state to the point where church state separation must surrender to state-dominated church?
5. To what degree does an individual’s comment that there is a nice congregation in town which one may wish to visit translate to “the government tries to impose an official religion on its citizens.”? When a teacher or post master does it?
6. When does an employee of the gov’t loses his/her individual rights as private citizens? Does the gov’t absorb its own?
7. Since when did we forget that the Jeffersonian principle of separation of church and state was founded on the Danbury Baptists who did not wish to have their group relegated to second-class to the Congregational church, the gov’t approved religion of Connecticut?
>> Christian marriage is fine for Christians …
New line of questions:
1. Why do you narrowly define traditional marriage to Christian marriage?
2. If Christian marriage (whatever that is, I’ll come back to that) is fine for Christians, how does that disqualify it from being fine for the rest?
3. Let us define Christian marriage: Marriage is the life-long union between one man and one woman instituted by God to assure the blessings and benefits of family life. Other than the part which riles LGBT’s, what is objectionable?
4. And merely being hard doesn’t count! What is objectionable?
5. If altering this estate in any manner harms society, why persist with its redefinition?
One more:
>> the purpose of government is just to build prosperity here on Earth
1. What of the limited role of assuring peace, law, and order?
2. How big a gov’t are we talking about if said gov’t can impact the world (as opposed to the nation, the proper domain of gov’t)?
3. If said gov’t fails in its purpose of ushering in prosperity, do we maintain our right to compose our Declaration of Independence and dissolve it?
Your post, John, was thoughtful and appreciated. But if it raises more questions than resolves them, what then?

Have a wonderful day.

John Moore,

The difference is that nobody thinks theft and murder are virtuous. Theft and murder aren't part of anyone's deeply held beliefs.

Your response to theft and murder turns on what people *think*. So if some people *thought* theft and murder were virtuous would it be your position that Christians should accept theft and murder in the public sphere? If that's not your position, then you need to come up with a better response to the theft and murder issue.

You Christians who are Americans need to respect your own founding principles and allow your non-Christian neighbors all the freedoms you enjoy.

You have a habit of dishonestly characterizing Christians. In the last thread you pretended that Christians are trying to overthrow the government. Now you're pretending that Christians are trying to give themselves special freedoms that they won't give to anyone else. You have a very twisted and conspiratorial view of Christians that isn't grounded in reality. That seems to fit the definition of a bigot.

Which freedoms do Christians want to grant for themselves that they don't want to grant to other people? You raise two: gay marriage and Christian teachers/admins proselytizing.

Regarding gay marriage. This would only be a valid example of Christians giving themselves a freedom that they will not grant to others if it is the case that Christians want to allow themselves gay marriage but disallow non-Christians from entering into gay marriages. That's not what Christians want. They want a particular definition of marriage to be applied to everyone equally.

Regarding Christian teachers/admins proselytizing. Again, this would only be a valid example if it was the case that Christians were arguing that they have a special right to proselytize in public schools where other people do not. But that's not the case.

This issue is more complicated because public schools create an impractical scenario where teachers and administrators have to pretend to some universally neutral ethic and worldview. But that's an illusion. The result is that one system of ethics and worldview, that is not neutral, ends up being favored over others. The government then privileges one set of ethical beliefs and worldview over another set. For instance, if public schools teach that homosexual families are good and normal, that is not neutral. Now the government is involved in teaching that certain religions are wrong. In this way the government becomes involved in an unconstitutional establishment of certain religious beliefs over others (say those of liberals that think homosexual families are a gift from God). This is why there really shouldn't be anything like our contemporary public school system. An easy alternative for the government is to give school vouchers to parents who can then give their children the kind of education they want. And it will abolish the public school system which, in addition to creating an impractical scenario where people have to pretend to be neutral while secretly teaching dogma (whether of secular humanism or Islam), typically has poor performance in comparison to private schools.

But is it the case that Christians proselytize in public schools? No, not as a matter of practice. Of course there will be a few examples of Christian teachers/admins proselytizing in public schools, but there are also examples of atheist teachers/admins doing the same thing. And the public school system can no more be a ground for atheist proselytizing than Christian proselytizing.

Christian marriage is fine for Christians, but you can't impose it by law on non-Christians.

It's odd that you raise this issue when I'm sure you already know better since you seem to read this site often (or maybe you are only looking at blog headlines that have something to do with the public square and you then post long misinformed comments?). Christians haven't advocated for a specifically *Christian* view of marriage. The view of marriage they have advocated is *rationally* grounded and can be held to by Jews, Muslims, or atheist. This is the view that "marriage" describes a certain type of natural relationship between men and women that the government has an interest in recognizing and protecting for the sake of children. There is nothing specially Christian about that.

A lot of Christians might be wondering how they can fully participate in their own democratic government if they can't act in line with their deeply held beliefs. The answer is simple: Just focus on improving the economy.

That comment shows complete ignorance of America's system of government. America is designed to allow people to advocate for religiously motivated policies, so long as they have a public benefit too. See this article, by a law professor at UCLA:

Yes, the purpose of government is just to build prosperity here on Earth.

To pretend as if this is confined to economics is naive. Sure, we could say in a very general sense that the purpose of the government is to build prosperity on earth. But for prosperity to be built we need more than an economy. That's why the government also has a military. If the government is only concerned with the economy, narrowly defined, then why do we need anti-discrimination laws (SOGI laws)? Would it be safe to assume that you oppose SOGI laws on the grounds that this is outside of the bounds of government? Of course not. And if you tried to tie SOGI laws back to the economy then you've just opened up the entire can of worms again: now Christians have an economic reason to fight SOGI laws, to fight for a particular definition of marriage, etc. etc.

"Avoiding Election Infection"

Subtitled Putting Your Faith Ahead of Your Politics.

It's not quite what you may think.... the link is at:

The transcript of the video is also available etc....

Just to clear up a few things:

1) Yes, public school teachers are representatives of the government. Federal or local doesn't matter. Teachers can respond to student questions. Students can deride religion or advocate for religion - it's just those in positions of authority who cannot.

2) Yes, the military and the police are legitimate functions of government because they are essential for maintaining social stability, which is essential for economic prosperity.

3) If someone said theft and murder were part of their religion, we could still criminalize that because it impinges too much on other people's rights. We need to balance rights so everyone has enough.

This can be often be a delicate balance. For example, right now we need to balance the right of LGBT people to marry versus Christians' right to not be offended seeing LGBT people acting like married couples. It looks like sentiment in the U.S. is tipping toward LGBT rights.

4) Yes, it's fine for people to advocate for religiously motivated policies, so long as they have a public benefit too. The motivation isn't important, but the whole focus must be on the practical, economic benefit.

5) Anti-discrimination laws are important for the economy because discrimination prevents people from achieving their full potential. That has a huge economic cost.

I believe the world is the world and the Church the Church. They do not mix.

The world needs laws that meet their fallen depraved needs. The Church has its own set of rules that parallel the 10 Commandments. So secular laws are often automatically kept without trying.

Early America was Post-Millennial and sought to make a "Christian Nation" from Satan's domain. In effect trying to steal what was not theirs. Jesus said his Kingdom is not of this world.

Because this, as a Christian I do not vote in National elections as I consider it meddling in the affairs of others. I might vote for new sidewalks or tree removal on a local level just to show "I care".

John B. Moore,

Thought hard about your response. I find most ideas sensible, but offer these critiques:

>> Federal or local doesn't matter ...
Ah, but while both are good variations on the role of gov't, I find the local level more receptive to community and personal needs. It's narrow scope enables it to accomplish its mission. And I've met my mayor. I can actually go up to his door and knock on it and relay my wishes.

Try doing that at the White House!

The Federal level of gov't always runs the danger of needing to accomplish more at the cost of receptivity. While in principle indebted to the "common Jo(sephin)e citizen," direct contact and close interpersonal relationships are impossible. Thus, at the local level, much can be done at the local level to influence range of curriculum. At the Federal level, the Dep't of Education hands down their curriculum without individual input.

>> This can be often be a delicate balance.

Bingo! But your conflicting rights principle (rights of LGBT vs. rights of Christians not to be offended, neither of which grace the Bill of Rights) resolved by flux and play of popular culture (which can be manipulated by forces beyond the individual right guaranteed in Constitution) is hardly the answer. The very word you used, "sentiment," connotes of emotions uncontrolled by reason or principle, just caving into the warm and fuzzies.

>> The motivation isn't important, but the whole focus must be on the practical, economic benefit.

Practical ... economic? What of mercy ... compassion ... the noble cause? Altruistic reasons. You might put them down as more of that "sentiment," but I know them to be strong motivators toward worthy causes.

Let's pray/hope for a political season without too much malice.

Just a thought, Melinda. I do think the Roman soldier requiring a Jew to carry their stuff could be thought of as participating in something immoral, since this could be construed as doing an activity to support the entire system of the Roman empire. However, Jesus point in these passages is not that people do nothing and capitulate, but that they take a stand without using physical aggression. For instance, to "turn the other cheek" is kind of like an insult, as if you were telling the person that hit you, "that wasn't hard enough, now do it again." I think carrying it another mile is meant to also make the person making you do it feel ashamed. Baking two cakes will not bring any shame on the people asking for the cake. In order to create shame, the more congruous action to take would be to simply refuse to bake the cake. It is still pacific resistance that insults the ones asking for it. Alternatively, I think of the example of the Houston judge that subpoenaed all the sermons from the churches, and how all the churches complied by sending thousands of Bibles and sermons to their office. Maybe that would be a good response, to show up at the wedding with 100 cakes and flood their wedding with them. I think when people say these kinds of things because they want to avoid any consequences for their faith, and, of course, that can't happen.

John Moore,

I pointed out in my initial response to you that you could only attempt to justify your claim about focusing on ecnomics if you define the term in an overly broad manner by trying to connect everything to economics.

You've done exactly what I predicted and attempted to connect everything to economics in some round-about way. Now recall that in your initial comment you attempted to say that Christians should just focus on ecnomic issues, because this is what the government is all about. But now that we see you trying to include things like military and discrimination under the umbrella of economics your advice to Christians to "just" focus on economics falls to pieces. Christians should also focus on things like discrimination (e.g., discrimination against freedom of religion) and military and foreign policy, etc. etc. since all those are under your big umbrella of "economics."

You talk about rights is very confused. First, you talk about balancing LGBT rights with Christian rights. But talk about "LGBT rights" makes no sense. LGBT people shouldn't have special rights that other people don't have. Second, you talk about a Christian's right not to be offended. But there is no such thing as a right not to be offended. That's one of the most ridiculous "rights" that we could imagine and trying to concoct such a right will lead to absolute tyranny. Third, there also isn't any specific Christian rights. There are religious freedoms, not "Christian" freedoms. There are human rights, not "LGBT" rights.

Finally, you claim that discrimination has a huge economic cost. But where is the evidence that, say, a small business owner not wanting to bake a cake for gay weddings creates a huge economic cost for anyone other than, possibly, the cake baker? The New York Times ran an article last year that celebrated businesses who were discriminating in who they chose to do business with. Liberals have celebrated businesses that chose to discriminate against Christians who have tried to have conventions on things like abortion and traditional marriage. Why didn't we hear any liberals claiming that *this* sort of discrimination would be bad for the economy? Plus, what about the economic growth that places like Chik-fil-A experienced after it was revealed that the owner opposed gay marriage? The idea that allowing private businesses to conduct business with whoever they want will wreck the economy is unfounded. Thus, the claim that we need anti-discrimination laws to protect the economy is unfounded.

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