Anti Marriage Proposals Build Case for Religious Freedom

The Book of Daniel in the Old Testament tells of three Jewish men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who were ordered by the Babylonian government to betray their conscience and bow down to a false idol, or suffer the penalty of a fiery furnace.

While there doesn't appear to be any (present) threat of a fiery furnace, many Christians today are concerned about repercussions for refusing to betray their conscience and bow down to prevailing homosexual ideology.

The concerns are warranted.

The San Antonio City Council recently passed a so-called "anti-discrimination" law that discriminates against Christians and others who affirm traditional marriage. Anyone suspected of believing - or previously having the belief - that the institution of marriage ought to be reserved for one man and one woman is barred from working for or doing business with the city.

Wedding-related vendors, including a photographer in New Mexico and a baker in Oregon, have faced fines for "human rights" violations because they declined to participate in same-sex ceremonies due to religious conviction.

The National Organization for Marriage recently accused the I.R.S. of harassing it because of its support of traditional marriage. John Eastman, chairman of the group, relayed to Congress how the I.R.S. forced disclosure of the donor list and subsequently divulged that list to an opposing group.

In an attempt to address these worries, 75 (and counting) representatives in Congress are co-sponsoring the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, a new bill that will help clarify and reaffirm the rights of individuals, businesses, churches and non-profit organizations to stand by their religious beliefs.

The legislation precludes the federal government from denying a grant, contract or employment to a person or institution based on their belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman. No institution could lose its federal tax-exempt status because it promotes traditional marriage and neither could the I.R.S. disallow a deduction to charitable organization on this invalid basis. Generally, this bill, if it becomes law, would forbid discrimination by the federal government against individuals or organizations because of their beliefs regarding traditional marriage.

Though most of the co-sponsors are Republicans, at least a couple of Democrats have voiced support for this bill. Perhaps, more will join. Religious liberty should be a bipartisan interest.

It is troubling, of course, that such action is even needed, but it is also a good reminder that the U.S. Constitution protects the rights of American citizens to express their thoughts and religious beliefs without fear of reprisal, and that no one should ever be coerced by the government into silence or into performing a service that goes against their deeply-held religious beliefs.

This bill is a step in the right direction in preserving and protecting the fundamental rights of each American citizen.

As the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act works its way through Congress, it will face an uphill battle, but, hopefully, common sense will lead our legislators back to the wisdom of our Founding Fathers, and they will embrace First Amendment's protection of every individual and organization, particularly, those that stand for traditional marriage.

It shouldn't require someone to be thrown into a fiery furnace to realize the rights at stake.

Nate Kellum is chief counsel for the Center for Religious Expression a non-profit organization in Memphis, TN dedicated entirely to the protection of religious speech.

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