Category archives: Religion & Culture

Befriending Our Opponents: A Tale of Two Presidents

by Worth Loving

July 2, 2020

In the midst of the current political divisions gripping our nation, it’s difficult to find close friendships between people with opposing viewpoints. It seems we are divided on every issue, with each side digging their heels in more and more and little hope of solving America’s greatest problems.

In such times, many are asking if there is any hope of finding common ground. I have often found it difficult to form meaningful friendships with people whom I disagree with on fundamental issues like life, family, and religious freedom. But may I suggest that friendship is exactly what we need to bring us together? What if we could form genuine relationships with those on the other side to make our nation better together? Two of our most famous Founding Fathers had significant political differences that nearly ended their friendship. Yet they persevered, giving us the beautiful story of reconciliation that we have today.

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson first met in Philadelphia at the Second Continental Congress of 1775. A year later, they worked together on the committee tasked with drafting the Declaration of Independence, whose 244th anniversary we celebrate this weekend. In the 1780s, Adams and Jefferson worked together on diplomatic assignments in England and France, managing to find some time for leisure during their demanding duties as ambassadors. Over the years, they became close friends, corresponding by letter often when they were separated.

On politics, however, the two could not be more opposite and frequently debated their differences. In fact, their disagreements sometimes became personal and often tested their friendship. Adams, a devout member of the Federalist Party, favored a strong central government, a national bank, and close relations with Great Britain. On the other hand, Jefferson, an ardent Democrat-Republican, favored states’ rights, reduced government spending, greater relations with France, and westward expansion. Despite their passionate political differences, their close friendship continued for many years.

However, circumstances changed in 1801. Adams was still president but had just lost his bid for reelection in a bitter battle against Jefferson. In the final hours of his presidency before Jefferson took office, Adams made a number of last-minute judicial and bureaucratic appointments—appointees who were loyal Federalists and would oppose the incoming administration, making it extremely difficult for Jefferson to govern effectively. In fact, Jefferson later wrote that they “were selected from among my most ardent political enemies.” This political disagreement proved to be the severest test of their friendship, and the two ceased correspondence for the next decade.

After Jefferson retired from the presidency in 1809, Dr. Benjamin Rush took it upon himself to act as an arbiter and rekindle the friendship between Adams and Jefferson. However, it took two years until he was able to convince the two to resume their friendship. When one of Jefferson’s neighbors visited Adams in 1811, Adams is reported to have said: “I have always loved Jefferson, and still love him.” Upon hearing this report from his neighbor, Jefferson wrote Dr. Rush: “This is enough for me. I only needed this knowledge to revive towards him all the affections of the most cordial moments of our lives.” At Dr. Rush’s persuading, he convinced Adams to renew his correspondence with Jefferson. The two continued to write each other often until their deaths 15 years later.

Reconciliation often makes broken relationships stronger than they were before, and so it did with Adams and Jefferson. In the years following their renewed friendship, a rich correspondence commenced between the two, reminiscing about the past, discussing current events, and looking forward to what lay ahead.

On July 4, 1826, 50 years to the day after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson died at Monticello in the rolling hills of Virginia. A few hours later, John Adams passed at his home in Massachusetts. His family reported that the last dying words he spoke were “Thomas Jefferson lives,” not knowing that his dear friend had died hours earlier.  

In today’s polarizing political climate, it’s easy to see the “other side” as enemies, with the strong desire to convince those on the fence that our ideas are better. That is not to diminish our differences in worldviews. Without a doubt, liberals and conservatives both have two very different ideas for the future of America. But, on this July 4th, perhaps we can learn a lesson from two of our greatest Founding Fathers. They didn’t ignore their differences as if they didn’t exist, but they didn’t allow those differences to interfere with forming a lifelong friendship. Likewise, we don’t have to set aside our differences either because that won’t make them disappear. Being friendly isn’t abandoning your principles. Perhaps this July 4th can be different if we don’t let those differences get in the way of crossing the street and talking to our neighbor. After all, we are celebrating our nation’s independence and the freedom we have to be different.

Furthermore, as Christians, there are several biblical commands that are easy to forget in the divisive times in which we live. First, we must remember that those with whom we disagree are not the enemy. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:12 (ESV) that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Second, Christians are commanded to love our enemies and pray for them (Matthew 5:44). Third, Scripture tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves, whether we agree with them or not (Matthew 22:39). Last, wherever God’s spirit is, there is freedom (2 Cor. 3:17). By embracing reconciliation with others, we not only encourage freedom but we also invite God’s spirit to dwell among us. 

We often quote the first sentence of the second paragraph in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” But we miss the weight of its last sentence: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” The signers of the Declaration no doubt had significant political differences and widely varying ideas for the future of the young nation. But they did not let those differences hinder them from forming friendships or from their ultimate goal—independence and freedom for all. These 56 men, firmly trusting in God, were willing to give up everything—their careers, possessions, and even their very lives—for the sake of freedom. Two of our future presidents—John Adams and Thomas Jefferson—both put aside their differences when they signed their names to that sacred document.

What we need in America right now is a good dose of civility and genuine friendships. Sure, there is a time and place to discuss the future of our great republic—a discussion we will continue to have and fiercely debate. But, this weekend, maybe we can take a break from debating on social media, protesting, or grasping for the next news hit and simply focus on loving our neighbor.

Let’s remember to celebrate our independence this weekend and the freedom it gives us to debate and be different. But let’s also not forget the opportunity we have to reach across the aisle and love our neighbor.

Pete Buttigieg’s “Different Way” Is Not Biblical Christianity

by David Closson

January 15, 2020

Yesterday, six candidates participated in the final Democratic debate before the Iowa caucus. Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, and Tom Steyer each made their pitch for why they should be their party’s nominee to take on President Donald Trump in the general election.

Buttigieg’s repeated emphasis of his religious background is unique for his party: Democrats have been reluctant to speak about their faith on the campaign trail. While last night’s debate focused on foreign policy and the recent tensions with Iran, Buttigieg made a point (as he has throughout the election) to highlight the role of religion in politics. Responding to a question about his electability, Buttigieg highlighted his Midwestern roots, military service, and Christian faith. He said, “If a guy like Donald Trump keeps trying to use religion to somehow recruit Christianity into the GOP, I will be standing there not afraid to talk about a different way to answer the call of faith and insist that God does not belong to a political party.”

The comment received little public attention following the debate, but Christians should pay close attention to what Buttigieg is suggesting. He is arguing that President Trump’s relationship with the faith community is transactional and utilitarian. In Buttigieg’s view, President Trump is using religion to advance his political agenda, and Christians who support him are allowing their faith to be co-opted. This is the same argument Mark Galli made last month in his widely shared Christianity Today editorial. In Galli’s words, if Christians don’t oppose President Trump, the “reputation of evangelical religion” and “the world’s understanding of the gospel” will be harmed. Buttigieg evidentially agrees with this assessment, which is why he is proposing a “different way to answer the call of faith.”

Buttigieg’s (and Galli’s) allegation deserves a response. How should Christian voters think about Buttigieg’s call for a “different way to answer the call of faith?” Is it true that Christian leaders have sacrificed their moral witness for a seat at the table of political power?

First, when it comes to evaluating the theological claims made by Buttigieg, it is important to remember that he is a member of the Episcopal Church, a theologically liberal denomination that has taken public stands against the historic teachings of Christianity on a host of social issues. For example, the Episcopal Church ordained its first clergy member who openly identified as gay in 1977 and continues to actively support LGBT causes. Also, since 1967 the Episcopal Church has opposed national or state legislation that would restrict abortion and, in 2018, called for “women’s reproductive health and reproductive health procedures to be treated as all other medical procedures.”

Buttigieg’s liberal politics align nicely with the liberal politics of the Episcopal Church, so it is not surprising that he finds himself at home there. Thus, when Buttigieg argues that the “Christian faith is going to point you in a progressive direction,” it is important to realize that by “Christian faith,” Buttigieg means something very different than what Christians have taught and believed for two millennia—not only about the nature of marriage and life but also about the role of Scripture.

Buttigieg’s understanding of the Bible came up in an interview with Rolling Stone last November. When asked to respond to the charge that his progressive faith disregards the Bible’s teaching on social issues, Buttigieg said: “There’s so many things in Scripture that are inconsistent internally, and you’ve got to decide what sense to make of it. Jesus speaks so often in hyperbole and parable, in mysterious code, that in my experience, there’s simply no way that a literal understanding of the Scripture can fit into the Bible that I find in my hands.” 

A shocking admission, Buttigieg’s comments shed light on the candidate’s flawed understanding of Christianity. They also explain what he likely had in mind during last night’s debate when he referred to a “different way to answer the call of faith.” By calling the Bible “inconsistent” and insisting that Jesus spoke in “mysterious code,” Buttigieg is rejecting what theologians refer to as the perspicuity of Scripture, which says the Bible communicates the doctrines of the faith clearly.

It is worth noting that some passages in Scripture are more difficult to understand than others. In fact, when referring to the Apostle Paul’s epistles, the Apostle Peter said, “His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16b). But even as he acknowledges the fact that Paul’s writings could be hard to understand, Peter underscores the fact that Scripture is objective and that failure to attend to the meaning of the text is harmful. The Bible teaches elsewhere that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). While there may be portions of Scripture that require extra study and attention, the Bible is clear on the doctrines of God, man, the way of salvation, and many issues with social and political implications.

However, by rejecting the clarity of Scripture, Buttigieg is conveniently able to remake and reinterpret the Christian faith to suit his preferences and beliefs, advancing proposals and policies in the garb of Christianity that either bear little resemblance or directly contradict “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

A clear example of this is Buttigieg’s argument that “there’s a lot of parts of the Bible that talk about how life begins with breath.” This despite the Bible’s repeated affirmation of the personhood of the unborn (see Psalm 139:13-16, Psalm 51:5-6, Luke 1:39-45, Jeremiah 1:4-5, Job 10:8, Genesis 25:22-23, and many others). By doubling down on this demonstrably false claim, Buttigieg is showing that political talking points, not Scripture, informs his view on life. 

Finally, in response to Galli’s charge that Christian leaders have sacrificed their moral witness and are no better than Buttigieg and his supporters on the religious left, it should be conceded that some on the right are willing to trade their credibility for influence. However, to allege, as Buttigieg has, that the “credibility of Christianity” is at stake because many Christians have supported President Trump and his party after measured consideration of their voting options is both unfair and inaccurate. Far from sacrificing their values and credibility, it is largely due to Christian encouragement that President Trump has taken significant action on issues of concern for social conservatives—issues such as life, religious liberty, Israel, and a return of faith in the public square.

As the 2020 election gets underway, it will be important for Christians to submit everything to the Lord, including their political engagement. As I argue in my recent publication, Christians ought to engage, but we must engage biblically. And as Christians, this requires prayerful consideration of candidates, party platforms, and most importantly, the Bible’s teaching on moral issues. On one level, Buttigieg is right when he insists, “God does not belong to a political party.” However, God does care deeply about many issues in our politics. And if Christians are going to be faithful in a time fraught with political turmoil and confusion, it will require more, not less, commitment to God’s Word.

Raising Up New Leaders: 3 Ways to Cultivate and Equip the Faith of Young People

by Anna Longbons

February 13, 2019

When Christians empower young Christian conservative leaders, they lay the foundations of the future. Every Christian parent wants their child to embrace the faith, and every conservative hopes the next generation will preserve and advance the cause of freedom. In America, however, nearly three out of five young people have walked away from the church, while atheism has doubled among teenagers. How can the church counteract this trend of young adult disengagement?

Instead of just trying to stop young people from leaving, the church can empower young people to start leading. If young people see the church as an outlet for their gifts and as a place of personal growth, their loyalty will deepen. Keeping young people in the pews is admirable, but equipping them for active service is transformational. Here are three ways to cultivate and equip the faith of young people:

1. Prayer

Firstly, church members can continually pray for the young people in their congregation, both those who attend and those who have recently gone to college or joined the workforce. By interceding for young people, church members can fight against the spiritual forces of darkness facing these young people, especially in today’s post-Christian culture. As believers pray, God offers guidance, paving the way for stronger relationships between church members and young Christians.

2. Mentoring

Relationships between older and younger Christians can bear significant fruit. In his book Cultivate: Forming the Emerging Generation Through Life-On-Life Mentoring, Dr. Jeff Myers explores the benefits of intentional, intergenerational relationships. He explains that mentors can rely on the six relational gestures of modeling, friendship, advising, coaching, teaching, and sponsoring. By inviting a young person to walk alongside them, a mentor models Christlike behavior and offers their mentee critical friendship and wisdom. As the mentee matures, the mentor can sponsor the mentee by furthering the mentee’s opportunities. These mentoring relationships help the mentee to realize that the church is relevant to their growth and invested in their success.

3. Apologetics Training

To promote lasting church loyalty, Christians can support young people through prayer and mentoring relationships. Apologetics training can also strengthen the next generation’s ties to the church. When young people learn the rational basis of their faith, and when they grasp the connections between the Bible and the issues facing our culture today, their confidence in Christianity grows and solidifies. Young people may perceive a disconnect between the church and the culture, but apologetics training bridges the gap. Christian organizations including Summit Ministries and Truth for a New Generation guide young people to understand and embrace the truth.

When a young Christian believes that their church accepts them and their faith matters, they are prepared to use the gifts God has given them in the service of the causes to which God has called them. Therefore, the church must be prepared to support the causes young Christians are passionate about. If a young Christian seeks to involve their church in the causes they care about—from alleviating poverty to abolishing sex trafficking to ending abortion—the church can offer their time, support, and encouragement. Promoting a young Christian’s endeavors not only furthers that specific cause, it furthers the young person’s leadership potential. Because they have grown in their faith and developed their leadership abilities through the church, young people will be far less likely to leave and far more likely to engage in positive leadership in future.

Prayer, mentoring relationships, and apologetics training all enable young people to grow in maturity and confidence. This confidence not only lays the foundations for continued church attendance, it produces proactive service and leadership that will benefit the church for decades to come.

Anna Longbons is an intern with FRC Action.

Free Speech in the Era of Social Media

by Worth Loving

April 20, 2018

In the last decade, the explosion of the internet has allowed us to reach a global audience almost instantly. Online social media platforms have become the primary way that people express their views, with 69 percent of American adults using some form of social media every day. And while these companies claim to be open platforms for all political discussion, some groups and individuals are finding there are limits to free speech.  

Since 2010, there have been an alarming number of incidents where conservative and Christian views have been censored on the internet. For example, in April 2015, GoFundMe deleted the fundraising campaigns for Sweet Cakes by Melissa and Arlene’s Flowers, two businesses that have declined to provide services for same-sex weddings and were raising money to help pay for legal fees. In January 2017, D. James Kennedy Ministries was denied access to AmazonSmile, a program developed by Amazon to allow customers to donate to the non-profit of their choice when making a purchase. Amazon based its decision on the SPLC’s designation of D. James Kennedy Ministries as a “hate group.” In July 2017, Facebook temporarily blocked over 20 pages of Catholic organizations and individuals that were followed by millions worldwide.

On Tuesday, “True Blue” recipient Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), a leading voice in Congress on digital free speech, joined a panel of experts at FRC to discuss solutions to online censorship. Rep. Blackburn was herself a victim of online censorship last October when Twitter blocked an ad for her Senate campaign, which they deemed “inflammatory.” The ad called out Planned Parenthood for their illegal sale of baby body parts.

Today we are faced with the difficult question of whether government regulation of a private enterprise is necessary to protect free speech. We encourage you to take time to watch the panel discussion and learn more about one of the most critical free speech issues of our time.

Why FRC Action Supports the Graham-Cassidy Legislation Repealing Obamacare

by FRC Action

September 19, 2017

 

Family Research Council Action along with FRC and Susan B. Anthony List (SBA) support the FY17 reconciliation legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.). The Graham-Cassidy legislation would reapply to federal health care law the principle contained in the Hyde Amendment that abortion is not health care and should not be subsidized. It redirects taxpayer funding away from abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood and provides better state-based health insurance solutions for families than Obamacare.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser released the following joint statement in support of the Graham-Cassidy legislation:

We applaud Senators Graham and Cassidy for their leadership and strongly endorse the bill they have crafted. This legislation offers Republicans the best chance to fulfill their promises to repeal and replace Obamacare, stop taxpayer funding of abortion, and redirect tax dollars away from the nation’s largest abortion business, Planned Parenthood, to comprehensive health care alternatives.

It is now well past time for Republicans in Congress to deliver on those promises. The Graham-Cassidy bill offers them the best chance to do that, with only 51 votes needed in the Senate to pass it before the September 30 deadline. The prior Congress passed legislation to repeal Obamacare and fund alternatives instead of Planned Parenthood that would have become law had it not been vetoed by President Obama, and now they have a commitment from President Trump to sign it. The pro-life majority controls both chambers of Congress and the White House. The GOP is without excuse. We urge them to keep their promise and repeal Obamacare and end the forced partnership between taxpayers and Planned Parenthood. Failure to keep their promise to voters will bring into question whether this Congress can truly be called the ‘pro-life Congress.’ Rhetoric must be translated into verifiable action.

Should robust efforts to enact the Graham-Cassidy legislation through the FY2017 Reconciliation bill run out of time, then the fight to redirect funds from Planned Parenthood must move immediately to the FY2018 Tax Reconciliation bill. Planned Parenthood proudly self-reports taking the innocent lives of 328,348 unborn children last year and nearly one million over the past three years. That is 900 lives snuffed out before their first breath every single day by a single taxpayer-funded abortion chain. This tragedy is compounded every day that passes with inaction. The time for results is now. Lives depend on Congress’ leadership and action to enact the Graham-Cassidy bill.”

Thoughts About 9/11 from a Christian Millennial

by FRC Action

September 12, 2017

By Bailey Johnson (FRC Intern)

I was quite young on September 11, 2001. I know from my mother that we sat and watched the television in shock along with the rest of the world. Remembering those who lost their lives, and those who willingly gave them 16 years ago, is very sobering. I think of the men and women who were at work in the towers and at the Pentagon, the firefighters, policemen, boat and ferry drivers, those on Flight 93, and others who became heroes that day.

Each time I reflect on 9/11 I become saddened, but also proud. I am proud to be a citizen of a county where we band together in turmoil. We care for one another and put the needs of others before our own. That is the America that I know and love. It shone beautifully despite the destruction and animosity shown us that day. There was bravery and honor shown by hundreds. I hear all of these things talked about often in regard to 9/11, as they should be. But now, as I think about the attacks, another perspective comes to mind.

I am sure we have all asked how people could fly planes into buildings, taking their own lives and those of thousands of innocents. I sit in utter disbelief of the reality of such evil. While studying history, there were many times I sat in amazement of the depravity of humanity. I don’t believe I will ever find the answer to many of my questions. However, I came to the realization that I was born with the exact same sinful nature as all the people I read about. This realization brought me to my knees.

As humans, we are born into a state of depravity we ourselves cannot comprehend. Yet there is salvation; there is hope. God loves us despite our depravity. That fact is astounding to me. What is often surprising is the fact that there is still good in this world. These realizations make me want to praise the Lord for who He is and the vast nature of His love. When I look at 9/11 through this lens, I see more than I ever did before.

There is no excuse for the evil that was displayed that day. We are engaged in a fight with this evil, but it is important to remember that we also fight this fight on a spiritual level, not a just physical one. We fight for the reconciling of hearts to Christ. Because of the depravity of our human nature, salvation is the only real solution to the evil in the world. September 11 was a very sad and devastating time in our history, but it is also a call to share the gospel.

September 11, 2001 should never be forgotten, I pray it never will be. However, we must do more than simply remember. America today needs people willing to follow the example of the heroes who arose that day. We need to unite as a nation, but we also need to unite under God. We must come together and put the needs of others before our own, as many did on that fateful day, and let beauty shine amid the dark times and good times.

We do not have to wait for disaster to strike to seek the Lord. Let us stand for our beliefs at all times. “…[I]n your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…” (1 Peter 3:15). May we always remember that we do not place our hope in the circumstances around us, but in our Lord Jesus.

Top 10 Best Statements from Trump’s Speech at the Celebrate Freedom Rally

by FRC Action

July 3, 2017

On July 1, President Trump delivered an address honoring military veterans at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Here are some of his most memorable quotes (see the below video to view quotes at the indicated times in parentheses):

  1. Bureaucrats think they can run over your faith and tell you how to live, what to say, and where to pray, but we know that parents, not bureaucrats know best how to raise their children and create a thriving society …” (10:43-11:05)
  1. …and we know that families and churches, not government officials, know best how to create a strong and loving community, and above all else we know this: in America, we don’t worship government we worship God…” (11:19-11:42)
  1. Our religious liberty is enshrined in the very first amendment in the Bill of Rights. The American founders invoked our Creator four times in the Declaration of Independence…” (12:11-12:27)
  1. Inscribed on our currency are the words ‘In God We Trust,’ but not only has God bestowed on us the gift of freedom, he’s also given us the gift of heroes willing to give their lives to defend that freedom…” (13:03-13:25)
  1. Every veteran with us tonight from every branch of the military – Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard – I want you to know that we will always keep our promises to those who have kept us free. Since my very first day in office, we’ve taken one action after another to make sure that our veterans get the care they so richly deserve…” (19:25-19:48)
  1. I also want to speak to all of the people in our faith community who are here with us tonight – veterans and non-veterans alike. You’re never gonna be forgotten. My administration will always support and defend your religious liberty…” (25:05-25:35)
  1. We don’t want to see God forced out of the public square, driven out of our schools or pushed out of our civic life. We want to see prayers before football games if they want to give prayers. We want all children to have the opportunity to know the blessings of God. We will not allow the government to censor sermons to restrict the free speech of our pastors and our preachers…” (25:43-26:27)
  1. I just signed an executive order – and this is something that makes me very happy and very proud – following through on my campaign pledge to stop the Johnson Amendment from interfering with your First Amendment rights. As long as I am president, no one is going to stop you from practicing your faith or from preaching what is in your heart…” (27:03-27:48)
  1. Though we have many stories we all share one home and one glorious destiny, a destiny that’s getting better and better every single day, and whether we are black or brown or white, and you’ve heard me say this before, we all bleed the same red blood, we all salute the same great American flag, and we are all made by the same Almighty God.” (29:55 -30:46)
  1. As long as our country remains true to its values, loyal to its heroes, and devoted to its creator, then our best days are yet to come, because we will make America great again.” (32:16- 32:32)

Houston ERO Finally Goes to the Polls

by Travis Weber

November 2, 2015

On Tuesday, November 3, Houston voters will finally be able to go to the polls and decide — under Proposition 1 — if they want the city’s controversial “Equal Rights Ordinance” (ERO) to be law.

Hopefully the voters will get a fair shake at the polls this time around, and this event will mark the end of the saga of the ERO’s tortured history, exacerbated and prolonged by its supporters’ attempts to cram it down the throats of Houstonians who simply don’t want it.

After Mayor Parker imposed her sweeping, religious liberty-trumping ordinance on Houston last year (and interfered with private church affairs by issuing an expansive subpoena for some pastors’ writings and communications), Houston area residents pushed back and rightly demanded a vote on the matter.

Yet the mayor wasn’t about to let that happen, and tried to declare petition signatures invalid to keep the question off the ballot.

Thankfully, the Texas Supreme Court earlier this year vindicated Houstonians’ right to vote when it issued an opinion ruling that Mayor Parker’s administration had violated the law and the City Council must either repeal the ordinance within 30 days or put it on the ballot this coming November. The Council chose to put it on the ballot.

Yet the City Council still resisted the Texas Supreme Court, attempting to confuse the voters by asking them to vote “yes” to repeal the ordinance. The Council’s obstinacy again forced the Texas Supreme Court to get involved and reject this contorted language. The Court held that the Houston City Charter clearly requires the ordinance be put to an up or down vote — a “yes” for the ordinance and “no” against it.

Proposition 1 is infected with a host of problems. First, it suppresses religious liberty significantly. Should the ordinance become law, it will drastically increase the reach of government into private religious conduct and result in a less free society. Indeed, the tentacles of government will intrude into a variety of private conduct — religious and non-religious — under Proposition 1.

Moreover, the ordinance is a solution in search of a problem; there is no systematic pattern or record of the problems it claims to fix.

Finally, there are simply all sorts of privacy and other concerns on the question of who will be able to use what bathroom under the ordinance. The last thing anyone in a major city should want is to alter the law on such a matter before calm, cool, and objective consideration.

For all these reasons, the ERO contained in Proposition 1 is a bad idea. Houstonians should vote “No” on Proposition 1.

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Befriending Our Opponents: A Tale of Two Presidents
by Worth Loving (July 2, 2020)

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