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What Separation of Church and State?

Opponents of religious liberty have long claimed to be supporters of religious liberty.

 In fact, when they pass legislation like same-sex “marriage” that harms religious freedom, they bend over backwards to emphasize how much they care about religious freedom (like here and here).

Even when they are working to take away religious freedoms from businesses like Hobby Lobby, Conestoga WoodArlene’s Flowers, Elane Photography, or Sweet Cakes by Melissa, they have emphasized their respect for religious institutions.

“We would never tell a pastor he has to perform a marriage he doesn’t agree with”, they claim, even as judges are forced to resign from their jobs because the state would force them to perform marriages they disagree with.

“We would never force a church to use their church building to host a same-sex ceremony”, they assure us even as private citizens are sued for making the same decisions.

The difference, they tell us, is the difference between the church and the public square.

“We love your church, and we wouldn’t dream of telling you how to run your church” they assure us. “We just want to make sure that businesses abide by the public accommodations laws.”

And the organized church goes along with it; dutifully doing nothing while secularists go about purging the public square of any vestiges of beliefs that reject the trendy cultural dogma about homosexuality.

But a dispute in San Francisco involving Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone illustrates what I think we all knew anyway; any pretense of believing in religious freedom — even inside a church — was just them saying what they had to say in order to get the power to do what they needed to do.

The issue in San Francisco arose when Archbishop Cordileone issued a statement reminding teachers in the Catholic schools that they were expected to reinforce Catholic doctrine in their classrooms. He also designated each of the teachers in the schools as “ministers,” which would allow him to dismiss them for teaching beliefs contrary to the teachings of the Catholic church.

Catholic schools teaching Catholic doctrine; the kind of thing you have to be highly educated at just the right schools to be offended by.

But offended they are.

So much so that eight California lawmakers sent a letter to the Archbishop urging him to withdraw the conditions for employment.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution rebuking the Archbishop.

In voicing his opposition to the Archbishop’s efforts to keep Catholic schools Catholic, Supervisor Mark Farrell said, “We have nondiscrimination laws here in San Francisco that have been established for years, including protecting the LGBT community. By mandating that teachers conduct their public and private lives in a manner contrary to our laws in San Francisco, it becomes a civic and legal issue.”

In other words, they plan to use the same non-discrimination laws they’ve been using to shut down businesses to target churches.

The separation of church and state? Never heard of it.

An editorial from San Francisco about the controversy said that, “The church can express disapproval if it wishes, but requiring teachers (some of whom may be LGBT) to be against it, even if it is contrary to their beliefs, isn’t going to fly.”

So…apparently it’s wrong for the Catholic Church to require its employees to teach Catholic beliefs, but it is right for the government to require every institution in the country to teach its beliefs.

As they say where I came from, that dog don’t hunt.

Friends, I realize there are things you’d rather do than get involved in political debates over religious freedom. You want to feed the hungry, visit the orphans, educate the next generation of leaders, run your radio ministry, restore marriages, help people move beyond addiction, and preach the gospel.

Your church wasn’t created to do politics, it was created to spread the gospel and serve those who need it most. I get it.

But here’s the deal.

If we don’t pay attention to what’s going on in public policy right now and do something to change the current trajectory, the ministries we love won’t exist anymore. Soon. No more orphans being helped. No more homeless being fed in the name of Jesus. At least not publicly and certainly not under a connection to any tax-exempt status. Hate groups won’t have tax-exempt status much longer.

Your belief in a narrow-minded Jesus that requires people to control their sexual desires? Yeah, that’s “discrimination”. And in case you haven’t heard, that’s illegal now.

It doesn’t matter how kind you are. It doesn’t matter that you’ve welcomed people who identify as gay into your church and home, befriended them, employed them, and helped them in times of need.

It only matters that you swear and affirm that homosexuality is good, will encourage children to engage in it if they want to (safely of course), and are willing to celebrate genderless marriage on command.

Otherwise, you are the enemy.

Politicians now believe they have a right to tell the Catholic Church how to make personnel decisions. They will stop you, unless you stop them first.

With all the grace, kindness, and courage you can muster, I hope you will.

You owe it to all those people yet to be served by the things you really want to be doing.

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