Republicans Warn Values Voters of the Closeting of Christians in America

Members of Congress who spoke on the first day of the Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C., highlighted the concerns of many that Christians are being told to keep their faith to themselves in America.

Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma spoke to those gathered at the Family Research Council event about the purported dangers to religious liberty in the United States.

"We have a culture that has become afraid of faith. I'm not sure how it happened, but it most certainly has happened," said Sen. Lankford.

"We have a culture that would say it's okay for you to be able to have faith as long as it is over there and we can't see it. Just keep it out of sight. But if you bring it out to where we can see it, it makes us uncomfortable so you need to put your faith over there."

Lankford went on to warn that when Americans "pull back on religious liberty, so does the rest of the world."

Lankford proceeded to cite Russia's recently enacted anti-evangelism law as an example, which came under the guise of an anti-terrorism measure.

"The new anti-terrorism law in Russia includes provisions that redefine missionary activities and those religious practices. Not allowing any missionary activities to take place outside of any state-sanctioned sites," continued Lankford.

"In Russia today, just to do evangelism on the street, just to talk about your faith on the street, and as a foreigner coming in to Russia, to be able to talk to other people about faith is considered a terrorist activity and an act of extremism."

Republican Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas also spoke Friday morning, telling those in the Regency Ballroom that he believed liberal attacks on religious liberty have increased over the past several years.

"[In 2007], the new majority, the Democrats, were pushing something called 'hate crimes' and I could see clearly as I could see you, where this was going," stated Gohmert.

"And we were told 'no, this will never effect churches, it will never effect Christians … No, it's going to be used against Christians. Let's stop it now."

Gohmert then cited a Washington Times story published Thursday that reported that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights' chairman claimed that terms like "religious liberty" and "religious freedom" are code for discrimination and even "Christian supremacy."

"They're saying that Christians, it's okay if you never talk about Christianity, which means obviously you're not a Christian, but we're now, its official, the head of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights thinks practicing Christians are hateful and intolerant," continued Gohmert.

"Jesus said, 'I'm the way, the truth, and the life, no one goes to the Father but by me.' I didn't say that, but I know that to my core."

The congressmen's remarks come on the opening day of the tenth annual Values Voters Summit, which will be held at the Omni Shoreham in Washington, DC from Friday to Sunday.

"Values Voter Summit was created in 2006 to provide a forum to help inform and mobilize citizens across America to preserve the bedrock values of traditional marriage, religious liberty, sanctity of life and limited government that make our nation strong," noted VVS' website.

"It has drawn over 3,000 plus attendees from around the nation and foreign countries. Garnering national and international media attention, CNN named it 'one of the conservative movement's marquee annual events' and Sean Hannity called it 'the premier conservative event now in the country.'"

In addition to members of Congress and assorted conservative social commentators, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is expected to give remarks.