Published August 12, 2010
Most Americans identify themselves as Christian, but American Christianity is astonishingly diverse. Hundreds of different Christian denominations coexist, and no one person or group can rightly claim to represent all Christians.
Moreover, religious diversity extends well beyond Christianity. Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, and adherents of many other faith traditions all flourish here, making the United States the most religiously-diverse nation in the world.
Many people take pride in the religious pluralism that supposedly exists in America. Religious pluralism is the belief that all religions offer an equally valid path to God, but apparently has no room for those who believe Jesus is the only way to eternal life. In fact, those who hold to the exclusivity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are often ridiculed and marginalized.
Joseph Runzo, professor of philosophy and religious studies at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., stated, “Exclusivism can be highly presumptive and morally repugnant.” In other words, you can have a system of beliefs, but you must not hold them as superior to other beliefs or practices.
So, since this secularly-minded world doesn’t feel kindly to those of us who hold to the exclusivity of the Gospel, they are trying to marginalize us. Christianity is systematically being squeezed out of our society; and tragically our Christian heritage is disappearing faster than the morning mist on a sunny day. Furthermore, this breeds a society where wickedness is not only rampant, it is tolerated, yea, even accepted, because ‘everyone is doing it’!”
Let me illustrate what is happening in our beloved land. As a native of North Carolina I was particularly perplexed when I discovered what happened in the “Tar Heel” state legislature earlier this summer. Pastor Ron Baity had been invited to conduct opening prayers at the state capital for one week. He was happy to accept the invitation, but had no idea the government would insist on prescreening his prayer.
When he was directly told that he could not pray in Jesus’ name he was shocked and dismayed. Because of his conviction that prayers must be offered in Jesus name, the invitation for him to pray was rescinded and he was asked not to return for the rest of the week.
U.S. Navy chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt?faced the same brand of politically-correct-driven government censorship in the military, where he was informed he could no longer pray in Jesus’ name.
Klingenschmitt stated, “Jesus is not an illegal word, the Bible is not a banned book, and evangelistic speech is not a crime.” However, many are beginning to wonder if the First Amendment, which promises all Americans the free exercise of their religion, includes the right for Christians to pray publicly in Jesus’ name.
To exacerbate the matter, Christ Community Church in Spring Lake, Mich., decided earlier this summer to remove its cross from their worship center and change their name to C3Exchange. The Rev. Ian Lawton, the church’s pastor, said the name change and removing the cross were designed to reflect the church’s diverse members.
Lawton explained, “Our community has been a really open-minded community for some years now. We’ve had a number of Muslim people, Jewish people, Buddhist, atheists … We’re catching up [to] ourselves.”
Willow Creek Church in the Chicago area is one of the founders of the “seeker-friendly” movement in our country. It is a megachurch where Bill Hybels is the senior pastor. One of the Willow Creek theory papers on small groups in churches suggests the need to remove “religious words” in an effort to reach the community.
Nowhere in the Bible is there any evidence of God’s Word being modified to reach the unbeliever. If you were going to modify it or remove the religious words, what words would you remove? It is with biblical words that we express our faith and praise the holy Name of the Lord. God’s Word is not defective and does not return void.
Several years ago the cross from the altar area of the chapel of the College of William & Mary was removed “to ensure the space is seen as a nondenominational area.”
The goal was to make the Wren Chapel less of a (Christian) faith-specific space, and to make it more welcoming to students, faculty, staff, and visitors of all faiths.
A more recent example of our faith being pushed to the curb of American life comes to us from Augusta. An Augusta State University student filed suit on July 21 after she was told to change her Christian beliefs or otherwise be expelled from the school’s graduate counseling program.
David French, senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, stated, “A public university student shouldn’t be threatened with expulsion for being a Christian and refusing to publicly renounce her faith, but that’s exactly what’s happening. Simply put, the university is imposing thought reform.”
Jennifer Keaton, 24, has been enrolled in the College of Education’s School Counselor masters degree program. Her Christian views regarding gender and sexuality ignited the indignation of the faculty, particularly her views on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues.
The faculty concluded that she failed to conform to certain professional standards and recommended a Remediation Plan that required Keaton to attend diversity sensitivity training with specific concentration on the GLBT population.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, says he sees more and more limits being placed on what is “politically correct” for Christians to do.
“I see an environment being created that is hostile to Christianity,” he said. “Two months ago, I was disinvited to speak at Andrews Air Force Base. Franklin Graham was disinvited to pray at the Pentagon on the National Day of Prayer.”
Perkins added, “We’ve seen the circle being drawn smaller and smaller in terms of what’s politically correct.”
It appears that our government is devolving into something that is drastically different from what our forefathers intended. I don’t know where we are headed, but history attests to the fact that Socialist, Communist, and Fascist regimes have always sought to purge the Judeo-Christian God from society in an attempt to become god to the people.
I also know that those who settled this country were an oppressed people seeking to escape a tyrant King in search of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. At the Constitutional Convention in 1787 Benjamin Franklin declared, “In the beginning of the contest with Britain, we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard and they were graciously answered. Do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?”
We should be “sensible of danger” again and dare not imagine that we no longer need His assistance.
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