September 2012 – In a letter to the editor of the News-Leader newspaper in Springfield, Missouri, Jane Pitt wrote that she was a Christian and planned to vote for Mitt Romney in November. They were comments that initially attracted very little attention.
Pitt cited Romney's pro-life views and said he shares her "conviction concerning homosexuality." The letter stated that President Barack Obama "is a liberal who supports the killing of unborn babies and same sex marriage."
That's when the roof blew off the house. It was made public that Jane Pitt is the mother of popular actor Brad Pitt, and a storm struck with all the angry contempt that has come to identify the intolerant left.
There were the usual news media stories accusing Jane Pitt of being "anti-gay," but the worst sort of vitriol assaulted her via Twitter. Crude sexual epithets were used to describe Pitt, she was told to partake in sexual acts in the most vulgar of ways, and outright death threats were hurled at her.
Jane Pitt has since refused to comment any further on the episode, becoming yet another voice silenced by those on the secular left who hate Christianity. Mission accomplished.
All in a day's work, as the old expression goes. But what happened to Jane Pitt is not the result of recent work but that of a decades-long assault against the Christian foundations of our nation.
It is not simply an effort to carve out a niche for atheists and other secular rebels who exist within the otherwise religious landscape, according to Peter Hitchens, conservative author of The Rage Against God and the brother of the late, outspoken atheist Christopher Hitchens.
Instead, he said, this secular offensive is "a dogmatic tyranny in the making."
Peter Hitchens is British, and since the U.K. and the rest of Europe are down the secular road just ahead of the U.S., it is worth heeding the warnings of Christians who are already experiencing the beginning stages of this tyranny.
Elizabeth Kendal, an international religious liberty analyst and advocate in the U.K., said in a recent blog that Christians in the U.K. and the U.S. are on the verge of seeing the triumph of a cultural totalitarianism that will drive believers to the fringes of a once free society. Already, she said, Christians are being vilified, fired and "dragged through the courts" for resisting the new ideology.
"These British and American Christians are not being dismissed, expelled, sued, fined, struck off and closed down because of anything they have done," Kendal insisted. "Rather, it is because of what they could not do: generally they could not affirm that all cultures, beliefs or lifestyle choices are equally good." (Emphasis in original.)
It is an all-hands-on-deck rebellion against Almighty God in an attempt to replace His laws with a man-centered, morally relativistic ideology that demands that all rivals kneel or perish.
Hostility toward faith
Hitchens and Kendal are not "the-sky-is-falling" alarmists. Christians are under fire in the U.S., although legal battles are still being fought and all is not lost.
For example, in 2010 Jennifer Keeton, a Christian enrolled in a graduate counseling program at Augusta State University in Georgia, objected to counseling gay and lesbian clients in a manner that affirmed the homosexual lifestyle.
School officials threatened her with expulsion if she didn't change her views. In order to remain in the graduate program, Keeton was told she could go on probation and embark on a "remediation" plan that included attending gay pride events and sensitivity training.
When she refused, Keeton was expelled. She sued ASU, but this summer a federal district judge ruled in favor of the university.
A similar case involving Eastern Michigan University also wound up in court. Julea Ward, a graduate student in that school's counseling program, encountered problems when she was assigned a potential client who wanted help regarding a same sex relationship.
Ward, a Christian, said her religious convictions would not allow her to affirm such relationships, but that she was willing to refer the client to a counselor who could.
The client complained, and EMU officials gave Ward an ultimatum: She could remain in the graduate program only if she changed her religious beliefs.
Ward sued, and initially a federal district judge ruled in favor of EMU. However, in January the 6th U.S. Court of Appeals reversed that ruling and ordered a trial to commence.
The appellate court stated, "A reasonable jury could conclude that Ward' professors ejected her from the counseling program because of hostility toward her speech and faith."
Even those Christians who own their own businesses are finding themselves squeezed by an oppressive ideology that permits no dissent.
In New Mexico, for example, Jon and Elaine Huguenin, a young Christian couple who owned a photography business in Albuquerque, were approached by two lesbians who wanted the Huguenins to photograph their same sex "commitment ceremony."
The Christian couple refused, and the lesbians filed a complaint with the city's human rights commission. According to the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is defending the Huguenins, the couple was slapped with a nearly $7,000 fine.
The New Mexico Court of Appeals upheld the ruling, stating that the couple "must accept the reasonable regulations and restrictions imposed upon the conduct of their commercial enterprise despite their personal religious beliefs that may conflict with these governmental interests" of protecting homosexual rights.
ADF senior counsel Jordan Lorence, who is handling the Huguenins' case and will appeal the court ruling to the New Mexico Supreme Court, said that Christians should not be subject to such attacks simply because of their beliefs.
"Should the government force a videographer who is an animal rights activist to create a video promoting hunting and taxidermy? Of course not, and neither should the government force this photographer to promote a message that violates her conscience," he said.
Making Christians choose
Perhaps nowhere does the battle to preserve religious liberty rage hotter than on American university campuses.
In March the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of a controversial case involving Christian student-led clubs at San Diego State University.
The high court action let stand a lower court decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled against a Christian sorority and fraternity at SDSU. Those groups required their leaders to be Christians and thus refused to allow atheists to occupy its top posts.
"Throughout the years of defending its policy, the university did not tell the Democratic club it must be led by a Republican, or the vegetarian club that it must be led by a meat-eater, but it did tell Christian groups that they must allow themselves to be led by atheists," said ADF senior counsel David Cortman, who represented the plaintiffs in the case.
The 9th Circuit's reasoning was Orwellian, to say the least. The ruling made it clear that SDSU could not force a Christian organization to accept non-Christians.
However, it also stated that the university could require Christian groups to choose between adhering to their religious principles and being allowed the special privileges accorded to officially recognized student groups.
Forced by law
These sorts of cases are metastasizing, and the pressure is beginning to be felt by churches themselves.
A Methodist church in New Jersey, for example, continues to lose its legal battles to maintain its Christian beliefs after the church refused to rent out its facilities to lesbian couples who wanted to solemnize their civil unions. Trumping the church's First Amendment freedoms is the state's non-discrimination law.
In Hawaii, churches went to court to stop a law that could force churches to allow same sex ceremonies on their property. A state law forbids anyone from discriminating against homosexual couples who want to rent facilities commonly used for commitment ceremonies - but the law contained no exemptions for churches.
Legislation was introduced in 2011 that would have exempted churches from the non-discrimination measure, but the law was not passed by legislators and was, in fact, opposed by the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission.
How did the churches fare in court, where they asked for a temporary restraining order from U.S. District Judge Michael Seabright? The judge denied the request, ruling that the churches would first have to be sued under the non-discrimination law and only then could they challenge the law's constitutionality.
The law is unconstitutional on its face, of course. The First Amendment's protections are clear: The government can neither tell a church how to conduct its theological business nor what it can allow - or disallow - on its premises as a result. The Hawaii statute tramples those religious liberties.
Attorney Shawn Luiz, who represents the churches, said, "The church cannot be forced to allow its property to be used for a same sex ceremony."
A cracked veneer
The threats to religious liberty are growing. One has only to recognize the dangers, for example, of the ObamaCare mandate requiring Christian hospitals, schools and other businesses to provide contraceptives for employees - including abortifacients. (See AFA Journal, 7-8/12.)
That government mandate has especially alarmed Catholic Church officials, since that church has numerous affiliated ministry organizations that would be affected.
As the controversy over the ObamaCare mandates erupted, Rev. George W. Rutler, pastor of the Church of Our Savior in New York City, penned a powerful warning to his fellow Catholics.
"The Christian veneer of American culture has cracked and underneath is the inverse of the blithe Christianity that took shape in the various enthusiasms of the 19th century," he said.
An angry and aggressive secularism lies beneath that veneer, and its rise to prominence and power means that a seminal moment is upon us. What Christians do in the next couple of months before the November elections and beyond will undoubtedly lay the groundwork for the America of the remainder of the 21st century.
"The national election in November 2012 will either give Christians one last chance to rally, or it will be the last free election in our nation," Rutler insisted. "This can only sound like hyperbole to those who are unaware of what happened to Western Europe in the 1930s" as fascism rose to power.
Under the pressure of this new ideological tyranny, Rutler further warned, lukewarm and tepid believers "will evaporate, as did the lapsed baptized in North Africa during the oppression of the emperor Diocletian" at the end of the third century.
It's already happened in the U.K. and the European continent. Only a naif would believe it could not happen here; only a fool would refuse to see that it is already under way.
AFA's Speechless series reissued
AFA has reissued Speechless: Silencing the Christians, the popular series that exposes the secular left's war against the public expression of Christianity in America. Speechless is hosted by radio talk show personality Janet Parshall. The entire series of six powerful and eye-opening DVDs is available for $69.95 (regular price: $99.95) at afastore.net or 877-927-4917. A recently-added one-hour special, also hosted by Parshall, deals with new developments and examples that warn of the loss of important freedoms