When I read this statement in the Tri-City Heralds July 23 editorial on the history of the papers community conversations, In our 20-plus events, we have only had one raised voice, I remembered, with some consternation, that this raised voice had been directed toward me! I do seem to possess a talent for annoying people. Whether its a liberal relative, a nonbelieving friend or participants at a community conversation you name em, Ive irritated em.
My opinion here may also annoy someone. But the wonderful thing about our constitutionally protected freedom of speech is that were free to be annoying! Were also guaranteed the free exercise of religion the right to put our beliefs into practice, not only in our churches but in public life. But recent attempts to redefine the free exercise clause as freedom of worship or freedom from religion should have us all worried, whether we are liberal or conservative, Christian or atheist, homosexual or heterosexual, because it puts us on a trajectory toward the loss of all freedom.
An examination of 20th century history reveals that governments wishing to replace God-given rights with state-granted rights must first silence the churches. The state god will countenance no other God and recognize no human rights except those that it arbitrarily grants and just as arbitrarily revokes. State-sponsored ideologies, from Nazism to atheistic communism to the Taliban, have proved to be harsh gods, subjecting their citizenry to genocide, mass murder and oppression.
In contrast, the Judeo-Christian ethic dominant in America has fostered a free nation that has honored God and safeguarded human rights while never succumbing to theocracy.
Now, using subtle but effective methods, our government has begun working to silence the moral authority of the church at home. Guised as new rights, many laws are being enacted by mandate, ballot or judicial action, backed by all the governments considerable power, that cripple the free exercise of religion and freedom of conscience, placing Christian businesses, hospitals, schools, charities, and individuals on a collision course with the state.
When physicians are asked to assist a patients suicide; when insurers are required by federal mandate to provide contraception, including the abortion drug Ella, in their health care plans; when reproductive rights mean that Washington parents need not be notified of a minor childs abortion; when the right to same-sex marriage means that Christian businesses must participate in celebrating same-sex weddings or face lawsuits; when our governor prioritizes passage of the Reproductive Parity Act to mandate that all employers/insurers offering prenatal care must cover surgical abortion, we are already living in Aldous Huxleys anti-utopian Brave New World.
How should Christians respond to such laws? Pope Pius XII once advised, When state laws attack divine law, the church is morally obliged to oppose them. Christians must defend true human dignity and rights. We may annoy some people, and voices may be raised but without religious freedom, we will face persecutions. The world may hate us but take courage: Christ has overcome the world.
¡Viva Cristo Rey!
Nancy Murray lives in Richland with her husband Bill and their two children.