Category Archives: Religious Liberty

DeBlasio Flips on Church Use of Schools

New York City Mayoral Candidates Attend Political ForumNew York Mayor Bill DeBlasio once opposed Michael Bloomberg’s effort to bar churches from using public schools for worship. Now, in office, he has changed his stance.

Then: “Mayor deBlasio stands with religious groups that worship in public schools,” by Corinne Lestch. Daily News,  April 8, 2014.

Now: “DeBlasio asks high court to uphold ban on churches in schools,” by Emily Belz. World, January 15, 2015.

The Biblical Origins of Freedom

liberty-bellReviewer Diana Muir Applebaum writes, “We have all been taught that it was the dethroning of revealed religion that produced political modernity.  Everyone knows this, knows that European political thought was not transformed and made modern by reading the Bible (let alone the Talmud); it was remade by a rejection of the Bible in favor of rationalism.” This view that freedom and religion are somehow in conflict with each other is getting long-overdue pushback. In 2011, Harvard political scientist Eric Nelson published The Hebrew Republic, making a compelling case that modern political theory’s roots lie in 17th century Bible scholarship. King’s College professor Joe Loconte has just published God, Locke & Liberty in which he “argues that the single most important defense of religious freedom in the West—John Locke’s A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689)—was not a result of Enlightenment skepticism toward religion. Rather, Locke drew inspiration from an earlier Christian reform movement, the Christian humanist tradition of Erasmus of Rotterdam.” Nelson, who is Jewish, and Loconte, who is a Christian, are among those who are reasserting the role of Judeo-Christian thought and the Bible itself in creating free and democratic nations.

“The Dangerous Mr. Nelson,” by Diana Muir Appelbaum. Jewish Ideas Daily, February 6, 2012.

“Under Locke and Key”  (interview with Joe Loconte), by David George Moore. Jesus Creed. Pathos.com, January 10, 2015.

David Barton Wins Defamation Suits

bartonChristian historian and activist David Barton has successfully taken some of his critics to court, including a pair who said he was “known for speaking at white-supremacist rallies” and another who called him “an admitted liar” whose “books have been picked apart time and again and exposed as fallacious.”

“David Barton Wins Million-Dollar Defamation Suit: Christian historian warns more may follow “to protect reputation and livelihood,” by John Aman. WND, December 20, 2014.

Houston Mayor Backs Down on Sermon Subpoenas

antireligionHouston mayor Annise Parker has backed down on her subpoenas for sermons related to homosexuality. Many, however, see the episode as a harbinger of things to come.

“Houston Mayor Tries to Calm Uproar Over Transgender Ordinance,” by Nathan Koppel and Tamara Audi. The Wall Street Journal, October 29, 2014. [PAY WALL]

‘Good Friday’ for American Christianity

Robert GeorgePrinceton Professor Robbie George says it is “Good Friday” for American Christianity.  Unlike before, there is now a cost associated with our faith.  Will we, like John and Mary, stick with Christ all the way to the Cross, or will we, like Peter, insist that we don’t know the man?  As cultural elites grow increasingly intolerant of all traditional religious and cultural views, George suggests we borrow from the countercultural movements of the ’50s and ’60s in crafting a strategy for pushing back.

“Princeton Professor: Cultural Elite Can No Longer Tolerate Christians.” Sunday Leaders with Ginni Thomas. Daily Caller, September 28, 2014. [Scroll down for part two.]

See also: “The Conservative-Christian Big Thinker,” by David D. Kirkpatrick. The New York Times, December 16, 2009.

Just War Theory and ISIL

ISIL Flag“Let’s face it,” writes Eric Metaxas, “the U.S. is at war again in the Middle East.” Should we be? When is war just? The Just War Theory developed by Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas is generally accepted by most Christians today as a good guide for determining the morality of going to war. Still, many conscientious Christians oppose war on any grounds.

“Principles of Just-War Theory.” Mount Holyoke College.

“What Chuck Would Say About the US and ISIS: A Just War?” by Eric Metaxas. Breakpoint, September 24, 2014.

“A Declaration from the Harmless and Innocent People of God, Called Quakers to Charles II,” 1661. Religious Society of Friends.

A Win for Freedom

RNS-ANDERSON-PROFILERyan Anderson reviews the importance of the Hobby Lobby ruling for the future of religious freedom in America.

“Supreme Court to Obama: You Don’t Have to Agree with Religious beliefs to Respect the Liberty of the People Who Hold Them…and the Groups They Form,” by Ryan T. Anderson. Public Discourse (Witherspoon Institute blog), July 1, 2014.

(House Reading Group, July 8, 2014.)

Al Mohler Responds to Matthew Vines

MohlerMatthew Vines argues in God and the Gay Christian that the traditional Christian view of homosexuality is based on a misreading of Scripture.  Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, responds with a defense based on the plain text of the Bible.

“God, the Gospel, and the Gay Challenge—A Response to Matthew Vines,” by R. Albert Mohler, Jr. AlbertMohler.com, April 22, 2014.

Greece, New York Can Pray

fmuhlenbergThe Supreme Court ruled that Greece, New York’s practice of opening its monthly town board meetings with prayers does not violate the First Amendment, even though those prayers are usually Christian in nature.  “Once it invites prayer into the public sphere,” wrote Justice Kennedy, “government must permit a prayer giver to address his or her own God or gods as conscience dictates, unfet­tered by what an administrator or judge considers to be nonsectarian.”

Court opinions in the case of Town of Greece v. Galloway, May 5, 2014.

‘Obamacare’ and Abortion

doerflingerRichard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops explains in clear terms how the Affordable Care Act makes funds available for elective abortion and violates the consciences of Catholics and other people who hold traditional values.

“A Careful Reading,” by Richard M. Doerflinger. America, April 7, 2014.