I wanted to update you on info I gleaned from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) conference my wife, Myra, and I attended last week in Southern California.
The June 26 decision of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on same-sex marriage was expected by some, but a disappointment to many. I was personally discouraged and at a loss for words. After spending four days with some of America’s most brilliant Christian Attorneys of the ADF, I came away with valuable information, inspiration and hope. Among other things, I’ve decided to throw away all my disparaging lawyer jokes! Let me share why, and what I learned.
- This is Not the Worst it’s ever been with regard to Government Encroachment on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech: During the years leading up to WWI, the Wilson administration imprisoned 6,000 US citizens who spoke out against its policies. A couple of mysterious deaths also occurred. Attorney David French, of the ACLJ, described his own personal mistreatment by college professors and students in the 70’s and 80’s over the abortion debate at Harvard Law School, pre and post Roe v. Wade.
- The Supreme Court, like other Branches of Government, Sometimes Gets it Wrong: Whether it be the Dred Scott decision, Roe v. Wade, or this one, the ruling majority of Justices occasionally gets it wrong. Thankfully, there is a constitutional process to overturn or revoke such bad decisions. The 14th Amendment is the response to one.
- Visionary Christian Leaders Saw this Coming: In 1994, Christian leaders, including Bill Bright, James Dobson, D. James Kennedy, and others, foresaw government encroachment on the First Amendment: Freedom of Religion, Speech, the Press, Assembly & Redress of Grievances. As a result, they formed the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). Today 2600 allied attorneys have given over 1 million legal hours – pro bono – defending Freedom of Religion and Speech, worldwide. During breaks and lunches, I spoke Portuguese with visiting allied attorneys from Brazil and Portugal, and Italian with attorneys from my mother’s country of origin. Yes, I am a polyglot.
- Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty (CALL) was founded with help of ADF in 2011: CBAmerica chaplaincy, under recently retired endorser, Dr. Al Russell, was a founding member of CALL. Today, I sit on the executive committee in Al’s place. CALL has been actively defending religious freedom, not only for Christians, but Sikhs, Buddhists, and other non-Christian individuals and groups, primarily in US Military. CALL also has allied attorneys able to work in all sectors of society.
- The Recent SCOTUS Decision not only was a vast Overreach to include Same-sex Couples, but opens the Door to Polygamous, Polyandrous and other Challenges: The saddest thing I learned is that many radical supporters of this agenda are actually working toward the destruction of marriage and the legalization of intergenerational sex. The SCOTUS decision was based on the “right” of consenting adults to have their emotional and sexual needs met, over the needs of children to be raised by their biological parents. This shift began with the enactment of “no-fault divorce” which originated in Russia and was first adopted by California in 1969. It will continue, unless checked.
- Many So-called Christian Churches and Organizations that have Acquiesced to the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, and Transgender (GLBT) Agenda, have declined in Membership: If not reversed, the Episcopal Church in America is trending toward extinction by 2037. Some large churches who have caved to the GLBT agenda have lost membership.
- All Christian Organizations that Have Stood Firm Have Grown: Intervarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) was kicked out of 50 colleges and universities over its conservative Christian doctrinal position, but is now stronger and on more campuses than ever! One presenter demonstrated that, historically, the Church has grown more in times of chaos than peace. He emphasized the need to follow the strategy outlined in Micah 6:8, “Seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.”
- Despair is Incompatible with the Christian Faith: “Christians have not the right to despair, because despair is a sin. And Christians have not reason to despair, quite simply because Christ has risen!” (Rev. John Neuhaus)
- Three Good Reasons to Be Hopeful:
- Conflict Creates Opportunity to Stand for the Truth: If it hadn’t been for US Government overreach, we wouldn’t have the Hobby Lobby victory. (Looks like the Little Sisters of the Poor case might go to the SCOTUS as well). Egyptian Bishop Athanasius stood and fought Arian heresy, defending Trinitarian doctrine in the 4th Century. He was known as “Athanasius Contra Mundum” (Latin for “Athanasius Against the World!”).
- Religious Liberty Is Winning!: Last six of SCOTUS decisions ruled in favor of Religious Liberty. ADF represented many of these cases.
- Christians Should Not Be Fearful, But Believe: In Mark 5, when Jarius learned of his daughter’s death, and was told to stop bothering Jesus for healing, He said to Jarius, “Don’t be afraid, just believe.”
At every morning devotional, and in each session (just about every one given by a Christian attorney), I was challenged to stand firm, be hopeful, believe and continue sharing the Gospel.
As chaplains in the Federal, State and Civilian sectors, we minister in a religiously pluralistic environment. Most of the time, we don’t get to choose whom we serve. Rear Admiral Margaret Kibben, the US Navy Chief of Chaplains said in a recent Armed Forces Chaplains Board (AFCB) teleconference, “The art of chaplaincy is negotiating the waters of counselees, regardless of religious or sexual orientation. We love them by ensuring they are cared for, even if we cannot affirm their behavior, and need to refer them to another appropriate counselor or caregiver to meet their need.” In the same teleconference, Chaplain (Maj Gen) Howard Stendahl, US Air Force Chief of Chaplains, reiterated, “We treat everyone with dignity and respect.”
Still, the sands are shifting. The cultural battle is raging. Some opponents of traditional marriage are out to pick a fight. The new CALL attorney, Daniel Briggs, USAFR, JAG, recommended that chaplains provide potential counselees with an information/release form on the chaplain’s Christian counseling perspective. Here is the link to a sample form. It will need to be adapted to your specific service and circumstances, should you choose to implement it. I also recommend that you have organizational legal review.
Here are some helpful resources on the homosexual marriage issue:
- Alliance Defending Freedom: Download the “Protecting Your Ministry, A Legal Guide for Churches, Christian Schools, and Christian Ministries” handbook at http://www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org/church. The ADF Website a great source of information.
- SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage, by Sean McDowell & John Stonestreet, BakerBooks.
- Restoring All Things: God’s Audacious Plan to Change the World Through Everyday People, by Warren C. Smith & John Stonestreet, BakerBooks.
- Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom. Pre-order on Amazon.
- Chaplain Alliance: PURSUING a nation where all chaplains, and those whom they serve, freely exercise their God-given and constitutionally protected religious liberties without fear of reprisal. Good place for the latest in Military Chaplaincy religious issues.