In late March, Indiana and Arkansas passed Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA’s) in an effort to stem a growing tide of antagonism and attack against Christians, who hold sincere beliefs that prohibit them from participating in activities they deem unbiblical. Immediately, both state governors came under intense attack from pro-homosexual groups who claimed the RFRA’s were discriminatory. Though in no way designed to be discriminatory, both RFRA’s were ultimately amended to include language that insured no discrimination would occur.
In the weeks that have followed the actions in Indiana and Arkansas, other states have contemplated the passage of their own RFRA’s, including our state of North Carolina. Opponents of these RFRA’s have decried them as unnecessary, if not outright unconstitutional! But, are they either?
All a Religious Freedom Restoration Act does is protect the rights of those who hold sincere beliefs, keeping them from being forced by law to violate those beliefs. According to the Indiana and Arkansas RFRAs, the only time a state could intervene and force compliance is if that state had “compelling interest” to do so. For example, if a religious group believed that their sincerely held tenets required them to murder other human beings, the state could (and should) intervene because it (the state) has compelling interest to protect the right of its citizens to live. In other words, one person’s beliefs, no matter how sincerely held, should not allow them to violate the God-given, constitutionally guaranteed right of another person.
At issue is this question. Should a Christian baker, photographer, wedding planner, etc., be required by law to provide their services for a wedding of a homosexual couple? A RFRA would protect a Christian business owner from being required to violate their beliefs by an overly oppressive, intrusive state. Well-known is the case of the Oregon couple whose business, “Sweet Cakes by Melissa” was forced to bake a cake for a gay wedding or close. Ultimately Aaron and Melissa Klein (“Sweet Cakes” owners) closed their business, rather than violate their sincerely held beliefs. Of critical importance here is the fact that Aaron and Melissa had no problem baking items for homosexuals, if the items were for a birthday, party, school function, etc.. Their problem was baking a cake for a gay wedding, an action they deemed in violation of their religious beliefs.
In addition to the closing of their business, the Klein’s have been fined by a judge the amount of $135,000 dollars. Without any income to meet their daily needs, much less this exorbitant fine, a GoFundMe site was established to help the Kleins. Well over $100,000 has been raised thus far. However, GoFundMe has now shut down their site, halting contributions, because they (GoFundMe) deems the Kleins beliefs “hateful.” So, the Kleins are now being rabidly discriminated against BECAUSE of their sincere beliefs. In essence, the most egregious form of reverse discrimination is occurring!
The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion (that is, Congress can’t establish a state religion, that everyone is required to follow) or prohibiting the FREE EXERCISE THEREOF” (Congress can’t limit the legitimate religious practice of anyone). Since it is NOT the right of our government to prohibit the “free exercise” of any sincere religious belief, cases like the Kleins should be a slam dunk–that is, those who hold sincere religious beliefs should NEVER be required to violate their beliefs!
Why then is this NOT crystal clear in the minds of so many? The answer lies in the fact that we, as a nation, have forgotten the higher law on which Constitutional law and statutory law is based. Underpinning Constitutional law is God’s higher MORAL law. Our founders called it “organic” or “natural” law. These laws were blatantly obvious, in the minds of our founders, to everyone. That MORAL law came from God’s word, the Bible, was readily acknowledged, as well! As we’ve rejected God’s MORAL law, we’ve slipped into a morass of debate over what is Constitutionally lawful, including, and especially, same-sex marriage.
So, as MORAL law is forgotten, Constitutional law is diminished. And, as Constitutional law is diminished, statutory law becomes more of the focus. To our founders, a RFRA (which is a statutory law) would be viewed as completely unnecessary, as they understood the requirements of God’s law and Constitutional law. However, the vast ignorance of God’s law and Constitutional law necessitate the passage of RFRA’s to guard and protect that which was obvious to those who framed our beloved Constitution!
Unbelievably tragic is the fact that the American people have fallen so far from the truth of God’s word and it’s moral expectations! It is up to the preachers of this land to faithfully and fearlessly proclaim the truth–Biblically, morally, and Constitutionally!
President, HOPE Ministries International
President, North Carolina Pastors Network (NCPN)