Author archives: Philip Rhein

Do You Have The Freedom To Practice What You Believe?

by Philip Rhein

July 6, 2017

This question is especially relevant today because of two recent events:         

First, recent comments made by Senator Bernie Sanders in a Senate Committee Hearing made believers consider whether they still have the right to practice what they believe (watch the video here).

 

Secondly, the Supreme Court has agreed to review Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. In this case, the Supreme Court will decide whether craftsman and artists still have the right to decline the promotion of a message they disagree with if it violates deeply-held religious beliefs, or if they can be forced to participate in a ceremony that violates his or her faith.

 

To better understand this question, we should refer to the First Amendment, which states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof (emphasis added); 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 First Amendment makes it clear that personal faith and the practice of faith are not to be separated by the government.

 

On June 26, 2017 in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch referred back to the First Amendment, when he stated, “that clause guarantees the free exercise of religion, not just the right to inward belief (or status).” This statement aptly outlines why artists, craftsman, etc. are not only free to believe in their faith but are also free to practice what they believe within their business. This case was a victory for all Americans who try to put their faith and beliefs into action.

 

In the name of “inclusiveness,” the Left has attempted to coerce individuals of faith to violate their consciences. But polling shows that a majority of Americans support the freedom to believe and live out those beliefs in the public square. The American Founders understood that threats against religious freedom would arise. For this reason, Madison wrote in Federalist 51: “It is of great importance in a republic not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers, but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part.” Madison understood that harmony can only exist in a republic if the beliefs of individuals are protected—whether they’re in the majority or minority. In our country, people of faith have the freedom to believe and to act in accordance with that belief. The Left should take note that the right which protects a Jewish butcher from being compelled to serve pork is the same right that permits Christians to decline to bake a cake for a court-created same-sex marriage. This is not just a Christian issue, this is a question that affects anyone who has a conscience and wants to put their beliefs into practice.

As stated on FreetoBelieve.com, “When Americans believe something, they back it up with their actions (emphasis added). Our core beliefs define who we are, and how we live. The freedom to believe and live according to those beliefs is the foundation for a civil society where people of differing beliefs can live and work together with mutual respect.”

Like other challenges to faith and freedom that America has faced, we are hopeful that this current trend of religious liberty violations be put behind us. However, if freedom is not properly defended in situations such as Senator Sanders’ challenge of Mr. Vought or in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the potential to cause devastating consequences for faith-filled Americans is daunting.

The recent Supreme Court ruling in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer should encourage all lovers of freedom. However, this is just one victory in many cases that the Supreme Court will review. All believers are called to pray for our country and that the Supreme Court will continue to defend the right of all people to put their faith into action.

To read about more stories that illustrate this recurring issue, please visit FreetoBelieve.com and view the latest edition of our “Hostility to Religion” report.

 

Georgia’s Pro-Life 6th District: Money Does Not Equal Votes

by Philip Rhein

June 22, 2017

In the most expensive congressional race in history, the election for Georgia’s 6th district demonstrated that spending a greater amount of money will not necessarily translate into a decisive win. While Planned Parenthood and its affiliates had intended this election to serve as an example of how worn out the country is of Republican legislators, it has had the opposite effect of re-asserting Georgian voters’ commitment to pro-life leadership.

Pro-life candidate, Karen Handel, defeated her pro-abortion challenger, Jon Ossoff, by 3.8 percent. According to Open Secrets, the two outside groups that spent the most to help Ossoff were the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Planned Parenthood Action Fund – the latter of which spent close to $800,000.

Although June 20th was the closest the Democratic Party has come to winning this district in 40 years, comparing how much each candidate spent per vote reveals a striking contrast.

This election is one example of how far this country has come in its support of the pro-life movement. Contrary to what Planned Parenthood would have Americans believe, recent polls have shown that at least 78 percent of Americans favor strong abortion restrictions. Massive campaign funds, aggressive door-to-door advertising, and hundreds of TV and radio commercials, funded by out-of-state donors, are not enough to convince pro-life voters to abandon their values at the election booth.

The election on June 20th infers that the 6th district of Georgia has voted pro-life, despite the incredible pressure placed on voters from the over $32 million of pro-abortion/pro-Ossoff advertising. This election should reassure and inspire pro-life advocates around the country. It demonstrates that regardless of how much is spent, staunch Georgian voters will not be bought or convinced to vote for a pro-abortion candidate.

Sign the Petition to Remind Senator Sanders that Faith Is What Our Country Is About!

by Philip Rhein

June 12, 2017

The recent comments made by Senator Bernie Sanders, in regards to the statement of faith by Russel Vought, are full of contradictions. In his comments to the Senate Budget Committee, Senator Sanders openly stated that he believed that Mr. Vought’s faith makes him at odds with American values. However, silencing religious liberty in the public square, in an effort to support tolerance, not only contradicts itself but dramatically harms our country and the dialogue that should happen between politics and religion.

Regardless of his understanding of evangelical doctrine, Mr. Vought made it clear in his statements that he sees each person as a unique gift from God with inherent dignity. Further, this belief will in no way inhibit his abilities to act as Deputy Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Senator Sanders’ line of questioning did not focus on Mr. Vought’s abilities as a Deputy Director, rather, they focused on his understanding of salvation and contradicted his right to live out his faith.

Similarly, in a misguided attempt to encourage diversity, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote an article defending Senator Sanders’ remarks. The views within the ACLU article also contradicted themselves, by asserting that individuals like Russel Vought, who express their faith in the public square, infringe on the faith and diversity of others. However, the right to religious liberty is not meant to become a vacuum that sucks all religion out of the public square. Rather, the right to religious liberty should encourage individuals to live out their faith in a way that promotes dialogue through mutual respect.

Senator Sanders’ response to the faith of Russel Vought is a blatant example of bigotry against Christians. Please join with Christian leaders and Family Research Council by signing this petition today in support of religious liberty and the right to live out our faith in the public square!

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Record High 245 Members of Congress Score 100 percent on FRC Action's New Scorecard
by FRC Action (Jan. 30, 2018)

Family Research Council (FRC) Action released its scorecard today for the First Session of the 115th Congress. A record number -- 245 Members of Congress -- scored a perfect 100 percent for ...

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