Religious liberty: Christians feel rights endangered

Lisa Misner Sergent —  December 31, 2015
Editor’s note: After an often tearful year, the Christian’s counterattack is hope.  The enemy may use the events of last year to strike chords of fear, but in reporting them, we offer notes of hope for 2016. God is in control of this world, and whatever happens, this history being made before our eyes will turn people toward him. He is our hope.
This is our certainty as we anticipate the new year, our hope.

Torch-squareBy Lisa Sergent | When did we become the enemy?

In just a handful of years, we have come to understand what it means to be in the minority and to have our rights challenged. The Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states may serve as the line in the sand. Crossing that line happened quickly—not that Christians have moved, but the culture moved sharply to the left, putting followers of Christ on the defensive. Over half of all Americans approved of same-sex marriage, and the divide is even greater among younger people.

And so it was that in 2015 religious liberty really became an issue. Same-sex marriage may have been the flashpoint, but now the First Amendment rights of believers, pastors, and churches are on everyone’s minds. As never before, churches are asking legal, constitutional questions: Are we still protected? If so, how long will it last?

The growing divide between Christians and majority public opinion has led to increased concerns about religious freedom. In 2012, Barna Research found 33% of Americans believed “religious freedom in the U.S. has grown worse in the past 10 years.” In just three years that number grew to 41%. Among evangelicals that number is 77%, up from 60% in 2012.

Complicated response: A 17th-century Baptist stance that the government should stay out of all religious issues is a more tenable position in the 21st century than the “God and country” approach of the Moral Majority years, when evangelicals’ morals were in the majority. Today, Baptist leaders are having to advocate from a different posture.

When Kentucky court clerk Kim Davis was arrested in September for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, not all Christians agreed with her refusal based on her faith.

Fellow Kentuckian Al Mohler, president of Southern Seminary, framed the larger issue: “What this story reveals beyond the headlines is that the moral revolution on marriage and human sexuality will leave nothing as it was before… A legion of Christians struggle to be faithful in their own situations, responsibilities, and callings, and our churches will struggle to find a new relationship with an increasingly hostile government and society.”

Lisa Misner Sergent

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Lisa is IBSA Director of Communications. A Missouri native, she moved to Illinois 22 years ago and arrived at IBSA a few years later.