So, what would/will you to do if you are put in a position where you either compromise your Christian convictions or face the possibility of losing your job, not getting your diploma, or maybe even losing your life. That is happening to believers all over the world right now. Every day many believers are being persecuted and many are sacrificing their lives for their faith. But who would have thought that it would ever happen in our great United States of America, that was founded on Christian principles as a place of religious freedom? Yet it is happening with increasing frequency. Here are but a few examples of some recent incidents that have made national news.
An Air Force Academy Cadet wrote on his personal communications whiteboard: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). Complaints soon reached atheist activist and hater of Christianity, Mikey Weinstein, director of Military Religious Freedom Foundation, who said the Bible verse created a hostile environment at the academy. He said, “It clearly elevated one religious faith over all others at an already virulently hyper-fundamentalist Christian institution. It massively poured fundamentalist Christian gasoline on an already raging out-of-control conflagration of fundamentalist Christian tyranny, exceptionalism and supremacy at USAFA!” Exactly two hours and 9 minutes later, the Bible verse had been scrubbed the cadets whiteboard.
The Pentagon warns that U.S. military personal could be court martialed for sharing their Christian faith with others. Guess who they asked to help the defense department to “develop new policies on religious tolerance, including a policy for court-martialing military chaplains who share the Christian Gospel during spiritual counseling of American troops”?—Mikey Weinstein!!
A Christian photographer in New Mexico, owner of Elane Photography, refused to shoot a lesbian wedding and was sued for discrimination against a person’s sexual orientation. She lost her initial lawsuit and is currently appealing her case.
Atlanta Fire Chief, Kelvin Cochran, was suspended without pay by the mayor and ordered to complete a sensitivity training class because he gave an employee and anti-gay self-help book. Cochran stated: “It’s okay for the LGBT members of a community to express their views and convictions about sexuality and they should be respected for their views without experiencing hatred or discrimination, but when Christians express their belief regarding their faith, they too need to be respected without hate and discrimination. In the U.S., under our constitution, no on should be vilified, hated or discriminated against for expressing their beliefs.” It would seem we, as Christians must be tolerant and politically correct toward all other’s views—but they aren’t held to the same standard.
Melkssa Klein, owner of Sweet Cakes bakery in Gresham, Oregon denied a lesbian couple a wedding cake and because of the hate mail and threats had to close shop. She posted this note on the door of the bakery: “The fight is not over. We will continue to stand strong. Your religious freedom is not free any more. This is ridiculous that we cannot practice our faith. The LORD is good and we will continue to serve Him with all our heart.” (NOTE: A similar situation took place in Colorado, where a judge ordered a bakery to cater for same-sex weddings.)
Barronelle Stutzman, Christian florist, owner of Arlene’s Flowers in the Tri-Cities in Washington, referred her friend and long-time customer to other florists because she could not in good conscience use her God-given artistic ability to design a wedding arrangement to celebrate a same-sex wedding. Although the couple obtained flowers for their “wedding,” the Washington State Attorney General, and later, the same-sex couple, sued Barronelle for violating the Washington Law Against Discrimination and the court ruled that both the state and the couple may collect damages and attorney’s fees from Barronelle’s business and personal assets. The 70-year old grandmother may lose her business, home and savings because she stood for her faith. (Alliance Defending Freedom is working on her case and if you’d like to help with expenses, go to her website for “Arlene’s Flowers” to contribute and give a word of encouragement. You might also contact Attorney General, Bob Ferguson to voice your concern over his actions.)
When Eric Moutsos of the Salt Lake Police Department was asked to be part of a the motorcycle brigade leading a gay parade, he asked for an alternate assignment because of his religious convictions concerning homosexuality. He was placed on leave and later resigned.
And the list could go on and on. Even the head of our local hospital chaplains has been affected by the anti-Christian sentiment growing in our culture. He and his staff have a very beneficial ministry to our hospital and in addition, he has been visiting at our local, privately run, care facility. Someone complained about his presence there and the director ordered him to no longer set foot on the property! He was the only one who visited with patients on regular basis and they would often call and request him to come. Now what? Who will be there for them?
Back to our initial question: What would/will you do when put in a position where you either compromise your Christian convictions or risk losing your job, promotion, diploma, or maybe even your life?
Daniel, whose name means “God is my judge,” faced such a situation. He was a statesman in the court of heathen monarchs. Taken captive as a youth to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar in 605 B.C., he spent the rest of his long life there as a governmental official and as a prophet of the true God. Because of his ability to interpret dreams, he was given a place of prominence and responsibility in Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom. Daniel’s jealous rivals in the government of Babylon tried to “find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to government but they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him”’ (Dan. 6:4). So, they talked the new king, Darius, into making and enforcing a statute that anyone who makes a petition to any god or man besides the king, “ for thirty day, shall be cast into the lions’ den” (v. 7). What would Daniel do? He could easily have avoided being thrown into the den of lions. He could have just ceased praying for a month, or prayed in secret where no one could see him. But note his response: “Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously.” Daniel was not intimidated by the pressure of persecution. He continued to serve God faithfully as he had always done. Part of his secret is revealed earlier in Daniel, where we read: “But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself…” (1: 8). I believe it is important for us to decide ahead of time what we will do when a situation comes where we have to choose to obey God or compromise our beliefs, rather than to wait for the heat of the moment to decide what to do.
The Apostles faced similar opposition and were ordered by the Jewish Council to cease teaching about Jesus and the resurrection (Acts 5:28). How did they respond? “Peter and the Apostles answered and said, ‘We must obey God rather than men” (v. 29). They did not compromise and were willing to pay the price for obeying God. All of the Apostles, in fact, except John, were martyred for their faith. (Tradition says John was boiled in oil and didn’t die, so was exiled to the Isle of Patmos.)
As our culture becomes more and more anti-Christian we will have many opportunities to stand up for our beliefs. Dare to be a Daniel! And pray for those who are currently being persecuted for their faith that they too would stand strong and be light and salt for our Savior.