(Photo: Courtesy of Liberty Counsel)
ARLINGTON, Va. – A legal expert and head of a conservative law firm has stated that government actions against religious groups over same-sex marriage and abortion are "red lines of liberty" being crossed.
Mat Staver, founder and chairman of the Liberty Counsel, told The Christian Post while part of an event in the Washington, D.C.-area on Monday that these red lines involve coercion on the part of government.
"These red lines of liberty are coming very rapidly. They're not just issues that are contrary to Christian values that you can coexist with," said Staver. "These are issues where the government is seeking to force you to affirm ideas and values that are completely contrary to your Christian faith."
Staver spoke in regard to measures like the HHS "preventive services" mandate, which critics say forces some religious organizations to violate their moral objections to abortion and birth control, as well as recent lawsuits leveled against Christian businesses that refuse to provide their services to same-sex weddings and receptions.
"It's a zero-sum game, not because we made it a zero sum game, but because they've made it a zero-sum game," said Staver. "The sanctity of human life transcends politics and now we're moving into a situation where the federal government, under the HHS mandate, is forcing employers to fund the taking of innocent human life; otherwise be fined or go out of business."
Staver's remarks came at a two-day event sponsored by the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, titled "Justice Summit 2013." Beginning Monday afternoon and held at the Crystal City Hilton near Ronald Reagan National Airport, the summit features several Christian leaders from various churches and organizations. In addition to Staver, guest speakers include Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church; and Danielle Jones, chair for the FreedomUNITED Campaign.
"The NHCLC Justice Summit is an opportunity to amplify our influence, to dialogue and strategize about key justice issues," reads an entry on NHCLC's website. "The NHCLC Justice Summit 2013 is an effort to increase our unified commitment and propose answers, from a Christian worldview perspective, to key issues such as: immigration reform, poverty, the struggle against human trafficking, the defense of the right to life and religious liberty."
Gus Reyes, director of the Hispanic education initiative for the Baptist General Convention of Texas, served as emcee for the summit. Samuel Rodriguez Jr., president of the NHCLC, gave remarks early Monday afternoon where he spoke inspirational words and provided an overview of the summit. In his remarks, Rodriquez stressed that he believes true justice comes from God and that far too often the word "justice" has been "exploited" by ideological partisans.
"Justice is not a term to be exploited. It is not a copyrighted nomenclature to be exploited by political operatives on the left or on the right," said Rodriguez. "Justice does not belong to the donkey or the elephant, justice comes from the heart of the lamb. And we are here these days to lift up, to elevate justice."
At one point, Rodriquez went "off script" and led the audience through an emotional prayer based in "reflection and repentance" in which a majority of summitt attendees went to their knees. "We repent before you in the name of Christ as a nation, as a community, and people of the Church, we have fallen short," prayed Rodriquez.
Staver, who presently serves as executive board vice president and chief legal counsel for NHCLC, told CP that the event was some time in the making. "We've been actually talking about and planning an event like this for quite a while. So it's good to see it come to pass," said Staver.
Said to be the largest Latino Christian organization in the United States, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference is a sister organization to the National Association of Evangelicals.