America is in trouble. It’s not just the economy. It is not just the troubles in the inner cities of our land. No, the greatest threat is to the very purpose for which our ancestors came to these shores – religious freedom.
Religious persecution in America is now a reality. The following stories came my way this week that illustrate that. First is Pastor Kent Hovind. Pastor Kent Hovind, a powerful advocate of biblical creationism who has already served almost 100 months in federal prison as part of what his supporters say amounts to a ruthless government campaign of religious persecution, is now potentially facing up to 100 years behind bars.
“First of all, we didn’t have any employees,” Hovind explained in a recorded interview posted on YouTube, adding that all the missionaries and volunteers were independent contractors responsible for their own tax filings. “Churches are not obligated to withhold anyway, and I showed all the laws in a 2005 affidavit.” He also said he asked the IRS what he should do. The agency never responded, until showing up to arrest him with a heavily armed SWAT team in what critics say was extreme overkill — to put it mildly, considering that his wife was dragged out of bed at gunpoint and not even allowed to get dressed.
The second set of charges involved “structuring,” which, as Hovind put it in the online interview. Essentially, the controversial statute in question — written primarily for drug dealers and organized crime syndicates, not churches or pastors — makes it a crime to take out over $10,000 per day from a bank account in multiple rounds, if the intent is to prevent the creation of federally mandated records used for spying on Americans’ financial activities in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Hovind says he did no such thing. In short this is simply taking money that is yours out of your own bank account in a way that the IRS doesn’t like.
This week also saw the “the verdict of an administrative judge in the case of Oregon bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein. In the first of what will almost certainly be several rulings, the Kleins were found guilty of violating state law for politely declining an order for a same-sex “wedding” cake. As part of his 52-page order, Judge Alan McCullough claims that “requiring them to provide a wedding cake for Complainants does not constitute compelled speech.” Aaron Klein disagreed. “I’m free to exercise my religion however I see fit. If I’m told to make a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage, I feel that I’m violating my beliefs. I don’t think I should have to do that.”
Owners of small businesses like Sweet Cakes by Melissa, Arlene’s Flowers, Simply Elegant Wedding Planning, Hands On Originals, and others are seen as nothing more than tools of the government to think and believe as the state sees fit. If they refuse, as Aaron and Melissa have done, Oregon is threatening to bring the full weight of the government to bear.
In our study of the Ten Commandments, I would like to step back from the details and look at the big picture; what difference do the Ten Commandments make in the larger scheme of things. For example let’s suppose it was decided that no one could see these Ten Commandments say in the court house, or in any public forum, oh, and especially let’s not let any children see these Ten, and by all means don’t let their education system teach them any of these Ten Commandments. What then could you expect such a society to become?
You should expect that no one has any respect for human life, murders are common place along with rampant sexual immorality (the philosophy of if it feels good do it prevailing) and marriage thrown on the trash heap as useless, stealing not only predominating but indeed the assumption in every human encounter, truth telling almost non-existent, if someone’s lips are moving you should assume they are lying and everyone everywhere filled with envy and greed, continually scheming how they can take the goods which others rightly possess.
Does that description sound like liberty? Does it sound like a place where it would be nice to live, where you could anticipate that your life would be safe, that your liberty would be secure, or that you could reasonably expect to hold on to your property? You could call such a land one that is truly barbaric, one that lacks the basics of civilization, where there is no liberty only anarchy.
The Word of God is abundantly clear, in Proverbs 14:34 “Righteousness exalteth a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people.”
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