Tag Archives: Aaron Klein

How Can Christians Avoid Rehabilitation by Government?

Just last week we all read with anxiety the report that in Oregon, the State Labor Commissioner is mulling a plan to “rehabilitate” business owners who refuse business in a way deemed discriminatory. The case that propelled this idea to the front pages is that of a Christian baker who refused the order of two lesbians planning a wedding. The Christian declared that his Christian principles forbade him to participate in sin. The Christian quoted the Bible as his basis for this decision. Every Christian knows that the Bible is a Christian’s guide for faith and life, because it is the revealed word of God. Every US Christian knows that the First Amendment protects Christians in the “free exercise” of their faith. Aaron Klein, the Christian baker, acted in full confidence that he was protected by the First Amendment when he exercised his faith, choosing to live by the teachings of his faith.

Apparently, in Oregon, the First Amendment to the US Constitution is unknown. If it were honored and upheld, the Kleins would not be facing fines and rehabilitation, actions commonly imposed on Christians in countries like China, Vietnam and Uzbekistan, but previously not imposed as penalties for the free exercise of religion in the USA. The notion of rehabilitating people who refuse to act against conscience is the direct consequence of the ongoing re-education of the citizens in the form of politically correct speech.

The Kleins should have known that they would be under a threat from the first time someone called the union of homosexuals a “gay marriage.” The word “marriage” has a definition, and the union of homosexuals is not it. For as long as there have been humans on earth, the definition of “marriage” is “the union of one man and one woman.” Because that is the definition, it isn’t possible to use the modifier “gay” with this word, because “gay” means “homosexual.” There can be no such thing as a homosexual marriage, and that means that there can be no such thing as a gay marriage. Homosexuals can engage in sexual activity, but that activity does not change the definition of marriage. Christians have made an effort to avoid using the term “gay marriage” simply because it is an oxymoron.

However, in the culture, shortly after homosexuals began telling Christians that they would be “on the wrong side of history” if they opposed “gay marriage,” LGBT activists introduced a new term in the glossary of political correctness: “marriage equality.” This term leaped right past the argument about whether there could even be such a thing as a “gay marriage,” and pretended that the argument about the definition of marriage was already over. Operating as if “marriage” could be anything somebody wanted it to be, LGBT activists proceeded to the argument that it wasn’t fair to deny legitimacy to gays who want to marry and be just like everybody else. It sounded a lot like my children begging to go to a movie I have forbidden because of its moral depravity. They cried, “But Mom, everybody else is going, and we won’t even know what they are talking about. It’s not fair!” The LGBT activists propounded exactly that argument: everybody else gets to be married and we want to be married, too.

For all their efforts to make the “everybody else” argument be about love and fairness, it should be noted that the masks came off when the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government had to recognize the union of two lesbians as a marriage, because somebody somewhere said it was so, and it wasn’t about love or fairness or any of that; it was about money. The argument then boils down to this: no matter what the majority of the citizens of the USA think, if anyone is married by anyone to anyone, the federal government is obligated to recognize the marriage and administer benefits – read “money” – accordingly.

This travesty of justice is rooted in the re-writing of the definitions of words we all thought we knew very well: “marriage” and “equality.” It turns out that in the secular mind, which dominates the culture and dominates government, people are free to redefine words whenever the current definition doesn’t feel good, and when the definition changes, laws which were written on the basis of the definition at the time suddenly mean something different.

Which leads back to the Kleins. The Kleins define marriage in a way that is perfectly legitimate according to their faith, and more to the point, they use a definition which was in place when they established their business and made their decisions about the way they would operate their business.  They, like many other people in the US, thought they knew what a marriage is, and when they included wedding cakes in their suite of baked products, they thought they knew what a wedding is, too. The fact that a few very aggressive political activists have promoted and sold an idea that has no legitimacy in reality does not change the moral foundations on which the Kleins make moral choices. They don’t need to be re-educated; the culture needs to be re-educated.

The Kleins are actually victims of a bigger problem than a law that interprets their actions as discrimination. Their problem is bigger than activist redefinition of words. The Kleins are victims of voter apathy. Poll after poll after poll shows that considerably more than 50% of the voters define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Poll after poll after poll shows that the concept of “gay marriage” and of “marriage equality” are unpalatable to most voters. Yet every time there is an election in which the voters can speak, the voters who oppose the LGBT agenda stay home in droves. When the voters who oppose the LGBT agenda simply go to the polls and vote, the LGBT agenda always loses.

History shows that when the LGBT agenda does lose, the activists simply become more active. The battle against LGBT activism and its constant assaults on morality is exhausting. Voters who want the definition of marriage to be left alone get tired of fighting the pressure. No matter the agenda, all activists rely on this truth about human nature to get what they want. They always have the energy of pent-up anger, the pitiful, plaintive cry that “it’s not fair,” and the willingness of a certain percentage of the population to believe that the loudest noise is the most righteous cause. Voters who want to retain the present status are accused of being old and thinking old and dragging the society down by their old-fashioned silly ideas.

Unfortunately, this battle will never end. In a football game, when the home team digs in on the five-yard line to prevent the opposing team from scoring, there is a clock. No matter how difficult it is to “hold that line,” the battle will end eventually. The same is not true of the battle for marriage. Those who want to protect marriage and preserve it as God ordained it are now destined always to be digging in on the five-yard line. Opponents of marriage have the bit in their teeth. They will not accept any defeat as final. No matter how often they lose at the ballot box or in court or in the public forum, they will not stop. Defenders of marriage as the union of a man and a woman must sign up for the long haul. Voters who are tire of being asked to vote about this and related issues must never assume that anybody else will even go to the polls. Every voter who supports marriage must consider the civic duty to vote as a sacred responsibility.

Christians want to live by their Christian principles, and Christians believe those principles must govern every thought, word and deed, at home, at church, in business and in the voting booth. If Christians truly want to be free to continue living by their principles instead of being rehabilitated, they must recognize that the blessing of citizenship in a representative republic creates an obligation of participation as a voter. The only hope of avoiding the institution of government rehabilitation or re-education or whatever euphemism the activist choose is to vote while that right still exists. Reject rehabilitation. Vote in every election.

If you didn’t vote the last time you had the opportunity, why not?

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What Should the Government Do When a Citizen Exercises Religion?

For many years US Christians have lived according to the teachings of their faith, secure in the protection of the First Amendment to the US Constitution. Many people of other religions have enjoyed the same protections. For many years the First Amendment has kept government within the bounds set by the authors of the Constitution. Those days appear to be almost over.

Today, government appears to have broken open the boundary fences in the Constitution, and it remains to be seen what will be required in order to recapture it and return it to its assigned limits.

The US Constitution includes an amendment that was written to prevent government from running roughshod over the personal convictions of people who considered their obedience to God to pre-empt their obedience to any other authority. The amendment actually does not name any particular god as being more important or more worthy of obedience than some other. It recognizes the sundry religions practiced in the US by both native residents and immigrants. The First Amendment to the Constitution was enacted because early citizens recognized the propensity of any government to seek power and to increase its power toward the ultimate goal of absolute power. The Constitution was enacted for the precise purpose of limiting the power of government to specific areas. The First Amendment was written to prevent the government from compelling any citizen to act against his conscience. The Constitution and the First Amendment were written by people who believed that every man of any character had a conscience educated by his religious faith, and they believed that every man who had any real character would suffer death itself rather than act against conscience. The men who pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to assert the principles of the Declaration of Independence against the most powerful nation on earth in 1776 were acting on conscience.

In Oregon, in this year of 2013, the protection of the human right to choose a religion and live by it is being threatened. The owner of a bakery who refused business because of religious conviction is being accused of discrimination. The state’s laws apparently allow the government to set a fine that has no upper limit, and the state’s Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian has said publicly that what the business owner needs is rehabilitation.Avakian’s exact words were: “The goal is never to shut down a business. The goal is to rehabilitate.”

Such a statement evokes memories of the Chinese Cultural Revolution or of the Soviet labor camps featured in The Gulag Archipelago. 

During the Chinese Cultural Revolution and in the Soviet Union people learned to watch what they said and what they wrote and what they did, because people who were out of step with the government were deemed to need re-education.

  • They needed to learn to be ashamed of thinking for themselves instead of learning the way the government wanted them to think
  • They needed to learn what the government wanted them to think
  • They needed to have the government language and thought branded in their minds by torture and profoundly inhumane and abusive treatment
  • They needed to be examples of what would happen to anyone who dared to think and speak and write and act on principles the government did not recognize.

This image is precisely what comes to mind when Americans hear a government official talk about rehabilitating someone who has acted according to conscience instead of according the moral standard of the day as defined by the government.

When bakery owner Aaron Klein declared that his Christian faith prevented him from participating in a lesbian wedding, the prospective customers should have behaved with respect for Aaron KIein’s religious convictions and moved on to some bakery where the owners don’t share that conviction. Aaron Klein expressed a fundamental truth of Christian teaching: Christ must reign over every part of a Christian’s life. Christians may not always live up to their deepest convictions, a truth that can be observed about people at large. Many is the person who has failed to live by his own best principles, and many is the person who therefore feels deep guilt and personal shame for that failure. It cannot be appropriate to say that the failure of some Christians to live up to the biblical teaching that homosexuality is sin justifies a demand by the culture for all Christians to deny and abjure that teaching. For Christians, Christianity is not a set of rules that are held high inside a building during ritual ceremonies and left to molder inside that building when the Christian leaves. Christianity is a way of life, and one element of Christian life is to honor God’s created order which includes the union of a man and a woman as the foundation of the human family. The culture may include enough activists to outvote Christians with regard to the issuance of marriage licenses, but the culture has no right and the government has no right to compel Christians to deny and act in denial of fundamental Christian teachings.

Only a totalitarian government such as the Soviet Union or the Chinese Communist government would believe that it had a right to act this way. The language of Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian is the language of a totalitarian dictator. Dictators demand that everyone think the same thing and they pretend that they have the right to reprogram the minds of their citizens, because they and they alone know best for everyone. They don’t believe in any god or God or any other power greater than themselves, and they don’t submit to any power or to any sense of human rights.

This idea may fly in countries like the old Soviet Union or even in contemporary Communist China where Christians who do not participate in the government-authorized version of Christianity are subject to rehabilitation in labor camps. This idea is an outrage in a country with a Constitution and a First Amendment right to the “free exercise” of religion.

Just this week, a group of Christians gathered in a private home somewhere in the USA to study the Bible. During the discussion of Luke 17:20-26, one woman said, “I am struck by the words, ‘the kingdom of God is within you.’ It seems to me that if God reigns within me, then every part of my life must be subject to him.” She was precisely correct. This is exactly what it means. No Christian can separate his life into separate sections, one part for secular rules and one part for Christ’s rules. A Christian lives one life that is a single integrated whole, completely subject to Christ. Christ reigns at the dinner table, on the highway, in business meetings and in the decision to accept or reject clients.

Secular thinkers say that people in business have no right to exercise their faith, because they have opened their doors to conduct business. This attitude is wrong for many reasons, but one of the reasons is that people who have religious convictions may shape their business according to those convictions. To the secular thinker, a Christian baker is simply selling an object to people who have money to pay for it. However, to the Christian baker, he is being asked to be part of a ceremony that is deeply offensive to his faith. Yes, that is right. Deeply offensive.  It is outrageous for any government to expect anyone to participate in any act that is deeply offensive. It is the behavior of a totalitarian domineering government.

What should the government do when somebody’s religious conviction gets in the way of the government’s power to impose acts against conscience on its citizens? It should stop. Any law that actually authorizes and demands such acts by the government must be considered unconstitutional, because the Constitution clearly forbids the government to do any such thing. Maybe the government doesn’t need rehabilitation, but it might need re-education. Let all people in government read and re-read the Constitution and then live by it as the founders of the USA intended.