Some Religious Freedom Victories

Sometimes there is good news. Christian businesses who have come under fire for resisting the demands for approval by homosexuals have had a successful day in court.

Most publicized was the case of Jack Phillips, who ran a cake shop in Colorado. When asked by a couple of men to prepare a cake for their "wedding," Jack politely declined and directed them to other shops who would accommodate them.

They complained to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission who slapped Phillips with a heavy fine and demanded he attend re-education classes along with his employees. It took several years for the case to get all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court who agreed 7-2 in favor of Phillips. They found that the government hostility toward Masterpiece Cakeshop and Jack Phillip's religious beliefs violated his freedom of both speech and religion.

This decision tipped the scale on a similar case in the state of Washington. Barronelle Stutsman operated a floral shop and also declined on religious objections to make a floral arrangement for a same-sex union. The government decided to break her resistance with a heavy fine, but she also fought her way through the courts until it reached the U.S. Supreme Court this year.

Since the Masterpiece Cakeshop case had already been decided, the Court sent Stutsman's case back for Washington to review it in light of that decision. The Court recognized that the blatant hostility toward these Christians was similar in both cases and violated the constitutional guarantee of equal treatment under the law.

Another victory of a slightly different nature in California was also handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court this year. That state passed a law in 2015 mandating that pro-life pregnancy centers must display advertisements where clients could receive an abortion. Called NIFLA (National Institute of Family and Life Advocates) v. Becerra, the Court found that the Government had no business compelling speech from its citizens.

All of these cases are critical for soul winners because they deal with protecting free speech. If the government can dictate what Christian businesses can or cannot say in the expression of their products, it is a short step to squelching witnessing. There is a strong effort already afoot to declare biblical truth hate speech.

But history has not been kind to Bible believers. Our Great Commission requires that we go and teach what Christ commanded. Whenever He taught, people determined to kill Him —which they finally did. Even though He was gracious most of the time, occasionally the situation demanded strong words and actions.

He used a whip to clear the temple and insulted the dignity of the Pharisees with words like "snakes," and "hypocrites." He counseled us to be wise but harmless (Matt.10:16 ). This leaves a lot of room for creativity but not much for hatefulness.

Several years ago some Christians got thrown out of a Muslim festival when they brought in a pig's head to make a point. However, a seasoned street witnesser quietly circulated in the same crowd and managed to distribute about 4,000 Chick tracts in the process.

In this war for souls, we know that the "joy of the Lord is our strength."(Neh. 8:10) Someone has added: "But kindness is our weapon." (2 Cor. 6:6)

Our burden at Chick Publications is to "speak the truth in love." Sometimes the truth requires tough love, speaking what no one wants to hear. Jesus spoke gracious truth and left it to the listeners to handle their feeling of being offended.

When we eventually face a judge for spreading the gospel, let's make sure we are guilty as charged, but always copy Christ's graciousness out of deep concern for those in Satan's clutches.

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