A British politician has resigned as leader of his party after being bullied for his Christian beliefs, and activists at the Christian Institute are warning the development “is evidence of wider intolerance in British society.”
In fact, the attitude that the beliefs all creeds should be tolerated except Christian beliefs is surging in the United States as well, where Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., recently asserted a Trump nominee’s belief that Jesus Christ is the only way to God should disqualify him from office.
In the United Kingdom, it was Tim Farron, a leader in the Liberal Democrat party, who recently announced his resignation.
“To be a political leader – especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 – and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible for me,” he explained.
London Daily Express commentator Ross Clark, who is “no great fan of Tim Farron,” was horrified.
“The way he has been treated by his party over his private religious beliefs disgraces a party which is supposed to stand up for tolerance,” he wrote. “It just shows how people who claim to be fighting bigotry in others often turn out to be bigots themselves.”
Clark pointed out that such bigotry is becoming widespread, such as in the case brought by the government against the family ownership team of Ashers Bakery. Lower court rulings already have penalized the family for refusing to create a message on a cake that promoted homosexuality. The bakery owners had no objection to serving customers who are homosexual, but they drew the line at creating a message that violated their faith.
Farron repeatedly had been badgered by reporters about his religious beliefs, to the exclusion of questions about other significant political issues. He finally reached the conclusion he was being forced out.
According to the Christian Institute, Nick Spencer of the religious think-tank Theos found the development alarming.
“Liberalism has a much-needed role to play in contemporary society, but it is increasingly being hijacked by those who think that liberal tolerance is only for tolerant liberals,” he said.
Lord Alton, who departed the party in the 1990s over the issue of abortion, said Farron “should never have been forced to make this choice but has made the right call.”
Clark was blunt in his condemnation: “Let no one be in any doubt, Farron has been forced out of his job as Lib Dem leader. When he arrived in Westminster with his newly elected MPs last Friday, there was no sign that he was about to throw in the towel. Then on Wednesday afternoon Lord Paddick resigned as the party’s home affairs spokesman, citing Farron’s views on gay sex. A couple of hours later Farron himself was gone, saying that he had come to the conclusion that leading the Lib Dems was incompatible with his religious beliefs.”
Clark pointed out Farron was a true liberal, allowing the beliefs of others even if they conflicted with his own.
“Never has Farron sought to stand in the way of gay rights,” the columnist said.
“I am sure I am not alone in being bothered by a growing inconsistency in a supposedly liberal British society. If you are gay, you will be applauded for shouting it from the rooftops. Yet if you are Christian, you are treated with suspicion or with outright disdain. You won’t get a ‘Christian pride’ march through the streets of London.”
More recently in the United States, such intolerance was demonstrated by Sanders, who competed with Hillary Clinton last year for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.
The British charity Barnabas Aid noted the senator “attempted to block a Christian candidate for public office because he stated that Jesus in the only way to God.”
“This is despite the fact that article VI of the U.S. Constitution explicitly forbids requiring people to hold particular beliefs in order to hold public office or stand for election,” the group said.
The confrontation took place in a U.S. Senate confirmation hearing for Russell Vought, a nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.
“Sanders objected to a theological (yes, theological not political!) article Mr. Vought had written,” the report said.
The organization continued: “Mr. Vought’s article stated that people could only be saved by faith in Jesus Christ not through Islam quoting Luke 10-16 (‘The one who rejects me rejects him who sent me’) and John 3:18 (‘Whoever believes in [the Son] is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God’).”
Sanders’ view on Vought’s Christian faith?
“In my view, the statement made by Mr. Vought is indefensible, it is hateful, it is Islamophobic, and it is an insult to over a billion Muslims throughout the world,” Sander said.
Punishing Christians with odd applications of so-called “non-discrimination” laws has become an industry already in America, where bakers, photographers, venue owners and even calligraphers have been penalized or threatened for refusing to violate their Christian beliefs.
But the campaign hit a roadblock recently in a case against a T-shirt maker.
It was T-shirt printer Blaine Adamson who, with his company Hands On Originals, was sued by a local Human Rights Commission for refusing to promote “gay” rights.
WND reported in May when the Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed a Fayette Circuit Court decision that sided with Adamson, saying he could not be forced, in violation of his faith, to print messages demanded by “gay” customers.
Those promoting “gay” rights have continued to appeal, as such an adverse decision to their cause could ripple across the country.
The issue is the courts in Adamson’s case have determined that business owners must serve all people equally but don’t have to treat all messages equally.
“Americans should always have the freedom to say no when asked to express ideas that violate their conscience. Blaine is willing to serve all people, but he cannot print all messages. The two lower courts properly affirmed that Blaine can’t be forced to print words and logos that express ideas in conflict with his faith. The Kentucky Supreme Court should leave those decisions in place,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Jim Campbell.
A number of conflicting court rulings over the past few years have found that a “gay” activist’s right to have his or her lifestyle affirmed and promoted trumps the U.S. Constitution’s protections for religious liberty.
That’s essentially what a 5-4 majority of the U.S. Supreme Court, including two justices who had publicly advocated for same-sex “marriage” while the case was underway, found in the Obergefell decision, which created a right to same-sex “marriage.”
In the T-shirt case, Adamson declined to promote homosexuality, and the Human Rights Commission ordered he “must print messages that conflict with his faith when customers ask him to do so.”
While the decision so far has affected only the T-shirt case, the simple logic utilized by the court could ripple across the country in other cases, such as in Colorado where state officials ordered a baker and his staff to undergo re-training for refusing to promote homosexuality.
Or in Washington state where a florist is being penalized for her faith, or in Oregon where bakers’ have been punished for their faith, or in a dozen other cases against venue owners, photographers and others.
The lower court’s ruling in Kentucky said: “Nothing of record demonstrates HOO, through Adamson, refused any individual the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations it offered to everyone else because the individual in question had a specific sexual orientation or gender identity. Adamson testified he never learned of or asked about the sexual orientation or gender identity of of Don Lowe, the only representative of GLSO with whom he spoke regarding the T-shirts.
“Don Lowe testified he never told Adamson anything regarding his sexual orientation or gender identity. The GLSO itself also has no sexual orientation or gender identity: it is a gender-neutral organization that functions as a support network and advocate for individuals who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered,” the court found.
“Also, nothing of record demonstrates HOO, through Adamson, refused any individual the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations it offered to everyone else because the individual in question was engaging in an activity or conduct exclusively or predominantly by a protected class of people.”
Under former President Obama, a report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights lamented that the Constitution limits governmental burdens on religion.
The agency’s report last year, when Obama only had a few months left in the White House, “Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles with Civil Liberties,” gets immediately to the point.
Religion ‘infringes’ on civil rights
On the first of 306 pages, the “letter of transmittal” to Obama states, “Religious exemptions to the protections of civil rights based upon classifications such as race, color, national origin, sex, disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity, when they are permissible, significantly infringe upon these civil rights.”
It says the fault lies with the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which “constricts the ability of government actors to curtail private citizens’ rights to the protections of nondiscrimination laws and policies.”
“Although the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act … limit the ability of government actors to impede individuals from practicing their religious beliefs, religious exemptions from nondiscrimination laws and policies must be weighed carefully and defined narrowly on a fact-specific basis,” states the letter.
Then the commission got to what it really wants, stating federal legislation “should be considered to clarify that RFRA creates First Amendment Free Exercise Clause rights only for individuals and religious institutions and only to the extent that they do not unduly burden civil liberties and civil rights protections against status-based discrimination.”
“States with RFRA-style laws should amend those statutes to clarify that RFRA creates First Amendment Free Exercise Clause rights only for individuals and religious institutions. States with laws modeled after RFRA must guarantee that those statutes do not unduly burden civil liberties and civil rights with status-based discrimination,” the Obama agenda claimed.
One of the higher profile cases – so for – to have developed was the Colorado case of baker Jack Phillips who would not violate his own faith to meet the demands of a “gay” customer.
At issue is his decision not to use his artistic talents to promote “gay marriage” at the request of two homosexuals, and the state’s subsequent decision that he has no right to control the speech in which he engages.
The case is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Colorado state Supreme Court, which includes a judge who boasted on a state website of being a homosexual-rights advocate, refused to intervene in a lower court’s decision.
The judges, who refused to comment, left standing a lower court opinion forcing Phillips and his staff to create cakes for same-sex celebrations in violation of their religion faith. The lower court ruling also ordered a re-education program for Phillips and his staff.
“No one – not Jack or anyone else – should be forced by the government to further a message that they cannot in good conscience promote,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “And that’s what this case is about.
“Jack, who has happily served people of all backgrounds for years, simply exercised the long-cherished American freedom to decline to use his artistic talents to promote a message and event with which he fundamentally disagrees. We are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to ensure that government understands that its duty is to protect the people’s freedom to follow their beliefs personally and professionally, not force them to violate those beliefs as the price of earning a living.”
The state of Colorado even exhibited “hostility” to Phillips when its Civil Rights Commission was considering the complaint.
One commission member said:
I would also like to reiterate what we said in the hearing or the last meeting. Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the holocaust, whether it be – I mean, we – we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to – to use their religion to hurt others.
That was from commission member Diann Rice.
Hear a recording of Rice’s statement: