A growing number of Christians, and especially religious liberty advocates, are voicing serious concern that publicly expressing the biblical belief that marriage is defined as being between one man and one woman will be classified as "hate speech."
Ryan T. Anderson, who is the William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and a Free Society at the Heritage Foundation, believes that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's comments in a recent TV interview about how the push to redefine marriage may threaten religious freedom is only the tip of the iceberg.
"Some on the left are criticizing Senator Ted Cruz's recent comments about how the drive to redefine marriage may threaten religious freedom - but a closer inspection of the issue reveals his worries were accurate, prescient, and maybe even too cautious," writes Anderson in his column published on Tuesday.
"If you look at other nations that have gone down the road toward gay marriage, that's the next step of where it gets enforced," Cruz said in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network. "It gets enforced against Christian pastors who decline to perform gay marriages, who speak out and preach biblical truths on marriage. That has been defined elsewhere as hate speech, as inconsistent with the enlightened view of government."
Anderson points out that despite the fact that advocates of redefining marriage argue that the First Amendment ensures that pastors and other clergy in the U.S. will remain free to preach what they want to and never be forced to celebrate a same-sex wedding, there are indications that same-sex marriage will be normalized.
"…if marriage is redefined, then a belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman ordered to procreation and family life - a notion once shared by virtually every human society - would increasingly be characterized as an irrational prejudice that ought to be driven to the margins of culture," Anderson states. "The consequences for religious believers are becoming apparent."
Anderson also writes that there are many documented instances in the U.S. in which laws forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation, as well as laws redefining marriage, have already eroded religious liberty and the rights of conscience. He uses the examples already laid out by Thomas Messner, a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation, which show that religious liberty and the rights of conscience eroding:
After Massachusetts redefined marriage to include same-sex relationships, Catholic Charities of Boston faced a mandate to place children with same-sex couples. Rather than go against its principles, Catholic Charities decided to get out of the adoption business - a move that helps neither the orphans nor society. When Massachusetts public schools began teaching grade-school students about same-sex marriage, the town of Lexington's school superintendent, Paul Ash, defended the decision to the Boston Globe with this statement: "Lexington is committed to teaching children about the world they live in, and in Massachusetts same-sex marriage is legal." A Massachusetts appellate court ruled that parents have no right to exempt their children from these classes.
The New Mexico Human Rights Commission prosecuted a photographer for declining to photograph a same-sex "commitment ceremony." Doctors in California were successfully sued for declining to perform an artificial insemination on a woman in a same-sex relationship. Owners of a bed-and-breakfast in Illinois who declined to rent their facility for a same-sex civil-union ceremony and reception were sued for violating the state nondiscrimination law. A Georgia wellness counselor was fired after she referred someone in a same-sex relationship to another counselor.
Anderson adds that in fact, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty reports that "over 350 separate state anti-discrimination provisions would likely be triggered by recognition of same-sex marriage."
At a recent Pastors and Pews event in Iowa, hundreds of pastors met with Cruz and Rand Paul, to support and pray in terms of a conservative agenda that included defending traditional marriage.
At the event, Cruz said, "There's no issue where we need to be more on our knees…we are facing an assault on marriage."