In Oregon, Aaron and Melissa Klein were found guilty of discrimination by a state court last week. They could face up to $150,000 in fines for not baking a cake for a same-sex wedding.
In Wisconsin, a 15-year-old boy was reprimanded and reportedly punished by his school for writing a school paper in which he backed traditional families in adoption cases.
In New Jersey, a high school teacher was suspended for stating her Biblical beliefs about homosexuality on her personal Facebook page (while at home, off the clock).
In Illinois, a university professor was fired for saying that homosexual acts are “morally wrong.” Kenneth Howell, who teaches religious studies, was explaining to his "Introduction to Catholicism" class where the Roman Catholic Church stands on homosexuality and sent out a follow-up email to students after class—which reportedly circulated around the campus and prompted some students to complain, resulting in Howell's dismissal.
Twin brothers David and Jason Benham, nationally acclaimed real estate entrepreneurs, were fired from their television show on HGTV after after the site Right Wing Watch published a post about the pair, labeling David Benham as an "anti-gay, anti-choice extremist" for reportedly leading a prayer rally in 2012 outside of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The list goes on, yet we can’t forget the grandmotherly florist in Washington State being sued by the Attorney General of Washington for refusing to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding (to a man, who by the way, she had faithfully served and befriended for over a decade).
One Grandma (70-year-old Baronelle Stutzman) summed it all up when she said, "Little by little, they are stripping us of any thought we might have, or any difference of opinion. This is our religious freedom at stake."
You know what—Grandma is right. Our religious freedoms are at stake here. The “tyranny of tolerance” claims that the sexual rights of some are more important than the religious rights of others.
Notice that each of these examples has to do with homosexuality. Who could have foreseen, even ten years ago, that the defining issue of our culture would be acceptance of homosexuality? —and that Christians, at least as far as the media are concerned, would be on the wrong side?
After all, this is America, where we have always had healthy conversations, even though we disagree. Our country was founded on the notion that we don’t take away the rights of dissenters. We are (or were) smart enough to know that when you censor ideas, no matter how politically incorrect, that’s when all intellectual, spiritual, and civil progress stops.
Yet our society, our culture, and our very way of life has fallen pray to militant activists who refuse to tolerate dissenters to their lifestyles. And unfortunately, they have the United States Government in their back pockets (not to mention the media and Hollywood).
At first, homosexual activists wanted acceptance. Then they wanted appreciation. Now they demand celebration. It's not enough to live and let live, these activists are now forcing their lifestyles on everyone, even if it means bullying a 70-year-old florist. We’ve shifted from religious freedom to forced acceptance in America.
The idea of forced acceptance infringes on our constitutional rights as Americans. As the organization known as the Alliance Defending Freedom states, "the First Amendment guarantees that the government cannot tell its citizens what they can and can’t say or force them to express a positive message about something they believe is morally wrong."
Increasingly, it is Christians who are singled out for this discrimination and the harassment of militant activists. No one sues or harasses a Jewish baker for refusing to cater an event on the Sabbath. Muslims get a pass on their refusal to accept homosexuality, even though their views are far more extreme than most Christians. These individuals are granted their Constitutional rights as Americans. Thank God!
But activists are increasingly demanding that Christian companies and individuals do things that are against their convictions, like support same-sex marriage or abortion. In fact, they insist that Christians comply with whole-hearted enthusiasm.
Isn’t there a double standard here?
We shouldn't be surprised. Jesus said, "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matthew 5:11-13).
Jesus also warned us, "In fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering service to God" (John 16:2).
So the question is: are you willing to stand with courage at any cost if and when the battle comes knocking on your door?
Before it comes to you, here are a few simple things you can do to prepare:
1. Make up your mind. Decide that whatever the cost you will stand for religious freedom and for your Christian convictions.
2. Prepare yourself. Know the biblical basis for your beliefs. And be informed—don’t be ignorant of the issues and your rights.
3. Join the conversation. Speak up. Don’t be silent. Witness for what you know to be the truth!
4. Separate ideas from individuals. You can disagree with someone’s idea and not dislike him as a person. We are called to love the sinner, even as we identify his sin for what it is.
5. Be kind. Love triumphs over evil; don’t demonize others. Making the love of Jesus evident in our words and actions will often win others over, even where logical discussion fails.
6. Stand strong. Don’t back down. Under God's grace, the future of our nation and our children depends on our standing firm!
Our liberties are God-given. And, as such, we must be willing to defend these freedoms no matter the cost. Now is the time for all Americans – regardless of our differences – to join hands in the greatest battle for liberty in our history! It’s time to take a stand.
This post is adapted from an article by David and Jason Benham that appeared on FoxNews.com.