Politics According to the Bible–Freedom of Speech & Religion

Posted: December 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

Wayne Grudem argues in his new book Politics According to the Bible (Zondervan 2010) that freedom of speech and freedom of religion should be protected at all costs. 

First of all, both are rights guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution, which reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Notice that you don’t find “separation of church and state” anywhere in the above paragraph but we’ll come back to that point.

All people are sinful and once given power we are tempted to abuse it.  Freedom of speech and freedom of religion serve as check on the abuse of power so that governments may better fulfill the duties ascribed to them by God (see Romans 13).

Campaign finance reform, campus speech codes and the fairness doctrine are just three of the examples cited by Grudem as abridgments of our freedoms of speech and religion that, coincidently, always benefit the secular left.  The push by progressives to rid the airwaves of anything religious cuts against their false banner of tolerance.

The church has had long history of positively impacting the public square.  It was church leaders like Jonathan Edwards who fought to protect native Americans and, throughout our nation’s history, other Christian leaders have led campaigns to abolish slavery, ban child labor, enforce civil rights for people of color and protect the lives of the unborn. 

Using the courts as a kind of super-legislature, the left has managed to curb the influence of Christians.  Grudem believes the best way to fight back is to knock out the Johnson Amendment to the IRS code.  What is the Johnson Amendment?

In the early 1950’s, then Senator Lyndon Johnson passed, by voice vote in the middle of the night, an amendment to the tax laws prohibiting religious organizations from engaging in partisan political activity.  Until that time, all preachers had the right to speak on any topic without any fear of endangering their institution’s tax exempt status.  All that changed thanks to LBJ who was mad at a Baptist organization in Texas that had labeled him a socialist.

The Alliance Defense Fund is fighting to get the Johnson Amendment before the U.S. Supreme Court because they, as well as Grudem, believe the amendment is unconstitutional.  I agree!  

The Johnson Amendment has been selectively followed by the IRS.  They typically do not threaten progressive churches (how many times have you seen Democrat candidates stumping with Jesse Jackson in large urban congregations?) but only target conservative religious institutions.  Again, the result is that conservatives are threatened while liberals have free reign.  

True tolerance allows everyone to speak no matter how reprehensible a group may feel about the content of the speech.  There is no right not to be offended!

Tomorrow, we will wrap up our run through Grudem’s book.

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