27 May “A tectonic social shift”
From the Desk of Laura Bunker:
If you are like us, you are concerned about the growing number of cases undermining freedom of religion in the United States. But the trend against religion is not unique to America; it is happening all over the world. For example, the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination of Christians in Europe recently published a report discussing 150 recent cases of intolerance against Christians in Europe in the year 2014, including:
- May 18, 2015: A bakery in Northern Ireland was found guilty after its Christian owner declined to provide a cake decorated with the words “support gay marriage.”
- March 05, 2015: A Christian nursery educator in the UK, Sarah Mbuyi, was dismissed from her job after “gross misconduct” for saying that marriage is an institution between one man and one woman in conversation with a colleague. Gross misconduct is the most serious penalty normally reserved for theft and fighting at work. Sarah Mbuyi said, “You know persecution [for your faith] is coming, but it feels really surreal when you realize it’s happening to you.”
- January 28, 2015: In Germany, Mark Holleman had to resign from his appointment for City Council of Munich and the environmental and health officer because of his membership in a pro-life group as well as in Christian Solidarity International. Mr. Holleman stated: “I reckon this to be an extremely problematic trend that a citizen with a Christian inspired image of man, who bases his personal moral point of view on life protection issues, despite moderate political positions, no longer seems to be eligible for certain offices. . .
Many citizens are concerned in our country about the development of freedom of thought and freedom of religion.”While this European report speaks from a Christian perspective, we recognize that people of other faith traditions are also subject to persecution for their beliefs — especially when it comes to Natural Marriage and the sanctity of life. United Families International maintains that people of all faiths should have freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, and the freedom to live their religious convictions in public as well as private.
Today’s engaging alert by UFI writer Dawn Frandsen addresses the importance of religious freedom in society, and offers a call to action for every religious person: “Hypocrisy is out. Practicing what we believe—sans an apologetic camouflage—and teaching our children to do the same will be critical as we fight to protect our beliefs.”
United Families International, President
Christian Chutzpah – Wherein We Just Keep Doing What We Do
By Dawn Frandsen
Chutzpah is a Jewish term. Maybe “term” isn’t the correct word. “Character trait” or even “life style” might be a better way to describe it. Rabbi Tzvi Freeman explains that chutzpah means, “that when you go about doing all those Jewish things that Jews do, you shouldn’t feel the slightest embarrassment before those who ridicule you. You don’t have to call them names; you don’t have to react at all. Just keep on doing what you have to do as though they don’t exist.
This “attitude,” “character trait,” “mental mind-set”—whatever it is, must be, at least in part, responsible for how the Jewish culture and its people have survived their turbulent history.
As Christians, our forefathers have had their fare share of turbulence where chutzpah was required, but as modern day Christians our lives have been fairly tranquil—until now. Now we need to ascertain ways to incorporate a higher level of chutzpah in light of the unrest that seems to be on our horizon.
The fate of marriage
No one knows at this point if same-sex marriage will be universally recognized in the United States or what the full ramifications of a required acknowledgment will have on religious liberty. Even after listening to the presented arguments and questions, there is no way to predict.
It truly is mind blowing that something so utterly preposterous as gender-segregated marriage could become law. The social science evidence supporting every angle of how traditional marriage promotes and protects children, men, women, the economy and society at large fills volumes. Not to mention that a judicial “justice for all” redefinition of marriage would place the U.S. among a mere 8% of United Nations member states who have legally included same-sex marriage and pit us against a list of arguably progressive national and international tribunals who have “explicitly upheld male-female marriage as consistent with human rights.”
The question is, if all the facts are ignored and a ruling is given in favor of the plaintiffs, would that make the United States a trailblazer or just a dangerous and powerful outlier in the religious liberties mêlée that will reverberate through generations?
But regardless of the final ruling, the dispute defining marriage will not be put to rest. After all, the abortion question hasn’t been settled. It has been nearly a half a century since Roe v. Wade was supposed to resolve it once and for all, but it continues to be on of the most divisive social issue in legal and ethical discussions.
Even if the Supreme Court does rule in favor of the states’ individual ability to define the marriages they recognize, so much progress in terms of public acceptance has been made by the pro-gay marriage and the anti-religious advocates, that a ruling for the defense would be a pyrrhic victory at best. The careful and extremely successful media crafting over the past decade has effectively equated the defense of religious liberties as discriminatory, (remember when being discriminatory was a good thing because it meant that you didn’t settle for something that was sub-standard?); labeled those who support marriage between a man and a woman as bigots; and relabeled hatemongers as those who “have faith.” has forever altered the landscape of marriage and families.
These changes mean we can no longer respond to the idea of same-sex marriage with incredulous derision, disbelief or soothing modifications. No, the landscape of how we talk about marriage, family and our religious beliefs has been changed—permanently.
And the challenge to stand for what we believe will not be just with those who are adamant that religious freedom is an all or nothing war against gay rights, but the ever rising tides of Nones who really don’t care one way or the other about religious rights, don’t recognize how critical those rights are to their everyday lifestyle and therefore see no need to defend the ability to freely practice religious beliefs.
How then do we as Christians counter to this tectonic social shift?
Enter chutzpah—wherein we go about doing all those Christian things that Christians do without feeling the slightest embarrassment before those who ridicule. We don’t call them names, we don’t have to react at all. We just keep on doing what we have to do.
Beginning within our own personal talking points and moving out to the social circles to which we belong, we need to stop building scaffolding based on what we are against and focus on reinforcing and fighting to defend the foundation of what we believe.
It is the small simple things that will make people stand up and take notice: being mindful of the Sabbath; choosing the character traits of longsuffering, peace, love; instilling in our children their heritage and the benefits of work and sacrifice; and strengthening our own family and marriage.
Hypocrisy is out. Practicing what we believe—sans an apologetic camouflage—and teaching our children to do the same will be critical as we fight to protect our beliefs.
Confrontation must be civil—because as Christians we must be civil. When confronted with bad facts—argue the law (which requires understanding the law) and when threatened by bad laws, argue the facts and work to change the laws.
Arguments rarely change hearts. Examples frequently do.
The successful portrayal of those who defend religious liberty as anti-gay, bigoted has culminated in the declaration that the gay lifestyle is morally good and therefore anything or anyone who opposes it must by logical deduction, not be good. That is the great mistruth that must be dispelled.
Successfully navigating the route ahead will take faith, patience, tenacity and steadfastness. And an added measure of chutzpah won’t hurt as we continue to do what as Christians, we do.