On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his Ninety-Five theses on the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg. Christianity was for all time changed by one man’s confrontation with authority.
For his audacity, for alleging that one’s path to heaven could not be purchased, Luther was excommunicated. It took great bravery to challenge what was then considered to be the ultimate arbiter of God’s will. Luther was told, effectively, that his pathway to heaven was foreclosed.
When the Mayor of Houston, sent her legal attack dogs to demand the sermons of ministers who opposed an ordinance that might prevent churches from hiring people who adhered to a traditional faith, my first thought was of Martin Luther and my hope was that someone would, in elaborate calligraphy, stencil the First Amendment upon parchment and nail it to the doors of city hall.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The Amendment was clear, and its intent was not to keep religious people out of government, but rather to keep government out of religion.
There has been, and will be, an ongoing debate about the role of government in marriage–what our laws should be, and where they are made.
But make no mistake–that’s not what this is about.
Some will make this debate about freedom of choice, but the only way this is about choice is if we are talking about the choice with regards to expression. No one, no law is advocating any restriction on the choices of consenting adults, but for goodness sakes are we so politically correct that we will stifle dissent? Will there be no room for people who have traditional beliefs?
In the same way the law should not restrict consenting adults, likewise the law should have nothing to do with restricting or restraining the free exercise of a religious people who object.
Consenting adults of a religious persuasion should not have their ideas monitored. Religious beliefs cannot and should not be trumped by political correctness.
No law should prevent religious people from coming together and discussing what they believe to be right and wrong.
Dissent may well be the foremost of freedoms necessary to restrain despotism.
Foremost among these freedoms–mentioned specifically in the amendment, and even before speech–is the free exercise of religion.
Nothing chills dissent, speech, or the free exercise of religion like the heavy hand of government, which is why the Mayor of Houston attacking the pulpit is so extreme, and needs to be spoken out against, now, loudly.
When sermons are censored or demanded to be produced, then we are in danger. I don’t care if the sermons castigate the immorality of instant replay, freedom absolutely requires dissent. Anything short of full dissent is not freedom and should be fought with vigor, no matter your opinion on the subject at hand.
The First Amendment cannot be allowed to wither and die on the altar of political correctness.
Maybe it’s time to nail it to the door of every city hall, state capital and entrance to Congress every day, so they have a daily reminder of what they’re not allowed to do.