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Too many conservative Christians think that protecting religious liberty is only about law and politics

David French, who has litigated religious liberty cases, makes a strong, necessary point about anti-Christian bigotry.

He’s talking about the case of the progressive, expensive Sheridan School in Washington, DC, which I wrote about here the other day. It announced this week that it would no longer play sporting matches against Immanuel Christian School now that it knows Immanuel, which it has played in the past, has a (bog-standard) policy requiring its employees to live up to orthodox Christian sexual purity standards. The Sheridan headmistress said that many in her school consider Immanuel’s policy to be anti-LGBT, and that his makes them feel  “unsafe” there.

French says that this is obviously a b.s. story to cover Sheridan’s anti-Christian bigotry. But here’s the point worth emphasizing:

It’s time for Christian parents, pastors, and politicians to understand a simple fact — in the fight for religious freedom, we often focus our efforts on the less important battleground. Legal protections matter less and less when the culture drifts so far from Christianity that shunning, shaming, and exclusion become the norm. Stay silent to keep your job. Change your policies to keep your educational opportunities. Say nothing so that you’ll preserve your public reputation.

And in this more-important cultural fight, it’s critical to wrap our arms around principles, not politicians. There’s not one darn thing that even the president can or should do to force the Sheridan school to associate with the kids from Immanuel. Combatting intolerance is a matter of persuasion, and it depends on Christians exercising a degree of personal courage and resolve — if you feel pressure at work, speak anyway. If you see a colleague facing persecution for his beliefs, stand with him. If a Christian school faces public shame and public sanction for its fidelity to Scripture, send your kids anyway.

This is a point I keep emphasizing when I talk about The Benedict Option: that the struggle we small-o orthodox Christians are in now, and that will only intensify over the coming decades, is not primarily one of politics and law. The people who hate us will not have to pass more laws in order to stigmatize us and render us untouchable. If you — and, more important, your children — are not prepared to bear the scorn and spite of the mainstream for the sake of your faith, you (and they) will lose that faith. This is a time of testing. It is not a time for rationalizing. If you aren’t making the small decisions daily that lead to deeper conversion and discipleship, you will not be ready to make the right decision when the moment comes, as it surely will.

Let’s say that our politicians and judges do a bang-up job of protecting our right to educate our kids as we like, and to live out our faith. What good will that do if we are so intimidated by the scorn and stigma of bigots like the upper middle class people of the Sheridan School that we surrender the exercise of our religious liberty? If you are ashamed to be a Christian in this hostile culture, you won’t be one for long.



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