Theologically liberal congregations are not threatened by restrictions on religious liberty because they have “surrendered” to American culture, according to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler Jr.
Speaking at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver, Colorado, earlier this month, Mohler talked about the threats to religious freedom in the United States.
During his remarks, Mohler stated that he believed that “the great challenge to religious liberty in our times” is “not any threat to liberal religion.”
“Those churches and denominations have long ago surrendered to the moral revolutionaries and they simply don’t believe anything sufficiently biblical or theological to get any of them into trouble,” explained Mohler.
“They can afford to put quotation marks around religious liberty because they had already put quotation marks around God.”
Mohler added that he believed Christians “must defend the right to believe in enough theology to get us into trouble and to get us into trouble with anyone, anywhere in a secular age.”
The prominent evangelical also talked about the three words he believed were “essential” to preserving religious freedom: God, truth, and liberty, “and in that order.”
“There can be no lasting defense of religious liberty without understanding how these three words hold together and in what order,” said Mohler.
He started with God, pointing out that the Declaration of Independence spoke of the “Laws of Nature and of Nature's God,” and noting that the founders appealed to “an authority higher than themselves.”
“When belief in God recedes, the only secure ground of human rights and human dignity recedes as well,” Mohler argued. “Natural rights cannot survive without understanding that natural rights have a supernatural origin.”
Truth also appears prominently in the Declaration of Independence. The Southern Baptist leader said ignoring objective reality harms the body politic.
As for liberty, it is the obligation of the government to “secure” rights, not “invent” them or “grant” them, he argued.
The Western Conservative Summit was sponsored by the Centennial Institute of Colorado Christian University and held July 12-13 at the Colorado Convention Center.
In addition to Mohler, other notable speakers for the summit included Dr. Ben Carson, secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Congressman Dan Crenshaw of Texas; Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic worker turned pro-life activist; radio talk show host Larry Elder; Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy; and Kristen Waggoner, senior vice president of the U.S. legal division and communications with the Alliance Defending Freedom, among others.
Over the past few years, there have been several legal battles centered on religiously based objections to LGBT issues like same-sex marriages and transgender identity.
In 2018, the United States Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission that Colorado was wrong to punish a baker named Jack Phillips for refusing to make a gay wedding cake on religious grounds.
In April, the Supreme Court agreed to hear three cases involving religious liberty versus LGBT rights. Among them was R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a case in which a Christian-owned funeral home was sued for firing a transgender individual who refused to adhere to a dress code for his biological sex.
At issue in the cases is whether "sex" discrimination protections in the 1964 Civil Rights Act include sexual orientation and gender identity, even though the act does not mention either category.