“We’re going to punish the wicked”

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Tim Gill, who made his fortune from Quark publishing software, may be the biggest funder of LGBT causes.  In an interview with Rolling Stone (revealing for its description of the money behind the movement), Gill promises to take on Christians who resist the LGBT agenda in the name of religious liberty.  “We’re going to punish the wicked,” he said.
Christians may not be used to thinking of themselves as “the wicked.” But many on the progressive side do think of Christians in that way.  Christians are demonized.  They are the bad guys.  They are sinister villains bent on taking over the world.  Christians, in their mind, are evil.
This is the stereotyping, the projection of “the other,” that has historically resulted in persecutions, pogroms, and other manifestations of hate.
 Yes, Christians have sometimes thought of others in this way and committed crimes against them.  “We’re going to punish the wicked” sounds like something a Christian might have said.  So some will gleefully say that Christians deserve the same treatment.  But this is all a rehash of the history that progressives claim to have left behind in the name of universal tolerance.  The old cycle is starting again, with Christians this time emerging as targets.
Surely America’s constitutional guarantee of religious liberty and the current religious majority will keep the worst from happening.  But they may not protect Christians from being forced to affirm same-sex marriages and transgenderism, if Gill has his way.

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Jewish school in UK faces closure for not teaching LGBT issues

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An orthodox Jewish school for girls in London may be closed down for refusing to teach its students about homosexuality and gender reassignment.

The private school has pupils ranging from 3 years old to 8.

In the UK, all schools, including private religious institutions, must adhere to the Equality Act of 2010, or they can be closed.

The Vishnitz Girls School has defied the agency enforcing the requirement three times.  The agency says that the school’s insistence on abiding by the teachings of the Torah (and presumably its position that its students are too young for such topics) place the school in violation of “fundamental British values.”  Refusing to teach the young children about homosexuality and transgenderism “restricts pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.”

This is happening in a “free country.”  Could it someday happen in ours?

I wonder how Christian schools in the UK are responding to this requirement.  Does anyone know? [Read more…]

How to criminalize Christianity

The United States has freedom of religion, and to say Christians are “persecuted” here is surely overblown, compared to how Christians are treated in other parts of the world.  And yet, overt persecution could conceivably break out even in this land of the free.  But how, given this country’s constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and freedom of speech?

We are seeing some of the ways this could happen and to a degree is already happening.  The right to religious freedom can be played against other rights that are considered more important.  Thus, religious opposition to certain kinds of sinful behavior can be treated as illegal discrimination.  A Christian’s disagreement with other religions can be outlawed as hate speech.

Another legal argument is taking shape in Georgia, where a college is being sued for not permitting a Christian student from preaching the Gospel, even though he had reserved space in one of the two campus “Free Speech Zones.”  (That a college allows free speech only in “zones” is itself a travesty, both of the ideals of higher education and of American law.  According to the Constitution, the whole nation is to be a free speech zone.)

The college is defending itself on the grounds that the preaching constituted “disorderly conduct.”  And that by calling people “sinners,” the preacher was using “fighting words,” which are legally outside the bounds of free speech.

One can envision a time when the freedom of religion applies only to religions that are universalist, permissive, non-proselytzing, and culturally-conforming.  That is to say, hardly any actual religions. [Read more…]

The religious comeback after Communist atheism

Bezbozhnik_u_stanka_15-1929The Soviet Union and its satellites in Eastern Europe strongly enforced the atheism mandated by Communist ideology.  They promoted atheism by laws, education, and brutal persecution of religious believers.  Schools taught required courses in atheism.

Churches were torn down or converted into movie theaters or (in the case of the Lutheran church in St. Petersburg) swimming pools.  Thousands of pastors were killed or consigned to the Gulags.  I talked with an Estonian who told me that her son once went inside an abandoned church because he was interested in the artwork.  He was warned never to do that again or he wouldn’t be allowed to go to university.

But 25 years ago, Communism collapsed in Russia and Eastern Europe.  Now those regions are arguably more religious than most of the countries of Western Europe.

A study by Pew Research shows the massive failure of Soviet atheism.  In the 18 former-Communist countries surveyed, 86% of the population believe in God.

And yet the temporary loss of a religious history shows.  Most citizens associate religious belief with national identity.  And they aren’t necessarily going to church all that much.

Catholics go to church more than the Orthodox.  But the Orthodox are more conservative morally when it comes to issues like homosexuality.

The Pew study describes religion in the former Communist states as “believing and belonging, without behaving.”

Read about the findings after the jump.

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Fidel Castro is dead

CastroFidel Castro died at the age of 90, outlasting most of his Cold War adversaries.  But he lived to see Cuba achieving normalized relations with the United States, something he didn’t seem to completely approve of.  That was the doing of his brother Raul, to whom Fidel surrendered power ten years ago.

Fidel remains a romanticized and idealized figure for some on the left.  (See, for example, the recent case of 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s Castro T-shirt.)  But the Communist dictator was responsible for killing thousands of Cubans, including brutal repression of Christianity.

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More on Russia’s anti-evangelism law

Michael Avramovich explains more about Russia’s new laws restricting religion.  We have blogged about the one requiring all Christian evangelism–except for that of the Russian Orthodox Church–to be conducted within a church service (not in a home, not online).  There are other strict restrictions on religious bodies, again, other than the Russian Orthodox Church. [Read more…]