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Friday, Nov 21, 2014

The Battle Requires Perspective and Perseverance

March 29, 2012|9:30 am

Frequently, in the fights for life, marriage, and religious freedom, it's easy to get caught up in the moment, throw one's hands up in the air, and wonder if the struggle is worth it. And this is especially so when it seems court decision after court decision is going the wrong way…for a time.

But in the midst of such frustration, perspective and perseverance are the keys to continuing the battle that must be fought.

The frustration is easy to understand if we just look at Supreme Court decisions for the month of March alone. In that month, the court declined to review the San Diego State University (ADX v. Reed) case, where Christian student groups are being denied the status of official campus groups because they are Christian, and also chose not to review Nampa Classical Academy v. Goesling, a challenge to Idaho's ban on public school usage of texts and documents deemed to be "religious" – even if those books are classics from Western Civilization used because of their literary and historical importance.

While no one can disregard these occurrences or fail to acknowledge the negative impact they will have on students at San Diego State and Nampa Classical Academy, if we put them in perspective, we can see plenty of light at the end of the tunnel. And two failures of the high court to grant review do not a legacy of precedent make.

We have to understand that the Supreme Court sees more than 8,000 petitions filed a year, and out of those 8,000, it only hears about 80 cases. (In years past, there have been Supreme Court sessions where up to eight cases with direct Alliance Defense Fund involvement were granted in a single year, but that was exceptional). And sometimes God has something even greater in mind when review is deferred. For example, consider how the churches in New York City woke up and took a courageous stand for their right to meet in public buildings after the Court decided not to hear the Bronx Household of Faith case this past winter. On top of that, the case is now alive in court once again on different grounds, and the churches are meeting while the case proceeds.

It's also important to understand that cases frequently come from differing districts, circuits, and states – meaning the same issues will come before the Supreme Court time and again, and sometimes this is what it takes to get the court's attention. And while the circuit splits that arise are one key way of finally seeing a particular issue go before the nation's highest court, taking a lot of negative hits along the way is also a big part of how one gets an issue there.

Those in the pro-death camp understand these things well. The whole battle to fabricate abortion as a "right" followed the same course outlined above – stair-steps of effort with plenty of losses along the way that nonetheless led to a deadly precedent set back in 1973.

Those stair-steps illustrate the perspective we must firmly hold to as well so that we can take seemingly adverse decisions in stride.

 And I would encourage you to persevere personally as well. For whatever reason, God's people always seem to grow weary and lose hope long before their opposition does. Remember how the children of Israel complained to Moses, asking why he had taken them from Egypt where they had such good food and led them instead into the desert?

In the moment, it seemed a fool's journey. But with perspective and perseverance, it was obviously the journey God had ordained for them – a journey on which all things worked out for good (Romans 8:28).

We must fix our eyes on Christ and not grow weary in doing good. Victory comes to those who remain on the battlefield regardless of the how the battle seems to be going at that particular point in time.

In Christ's name, we fight for life, marriage, and religious freedom. May He grant each of us the grace to persevere in this battle.

Alan Sears, a former federal prosecutor who held various posts in the departments of Justice and Interior during the Reagan Administration, is president and CEO of the Alliance Defense Fund (www.telladf.org), a legal alliance employing a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.
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