Loyalty and hate are powerful forces in the world of politics. Some people are blindly loyal to a political party; yet, most Americans do not endorse such blind loyalty. Most voters claim to determine which candidate they will support based on “the person and not the party.” Blind hatred is also a significant factor in politics. Senators Ted Kennedy and Jesse Helms are both objects of blind hatred from the right and left respectively. Christian home schoolers and other Christians interested in public policy issues need to be very careful about either blind hatred or blind loyalty.
I am not suggesting that we should “moderate” our views. Nor am I suggesting that we should learn the fine “art” of political compromise. I still hold the firm belief that the only things in the middle of the road are a yellow line and a dead skunk. What I am suggesting is that our loyalty must be directed to principles and not personalities. We must demonstrate our unflagging loyalty to the biblically-based principles of morality, freedom, and justice, and we must have an unswerving hatred of immorality, tyranny, and injustice.
By now you must be asking yourself: Why is Mike writing about these concepts? Who rang his chimes? What's his real agenda?
Ok, I’ll tell you.
I am concerned about the reaction of some people in Christian and conservative political circles to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (H.R.5377). Most of the Christian attorneys (and the groups they represent) who have actually done the vast majority of religious freedom cases strongly support the RFRA. However, some non-lawyers and some other conservative organizations have been lukewarm in their response. When I ask their reasons for this attitude, they answer: “If the ACLU and People for the American Way are for this bill, it must be bad.”
There is no question about it—these groups have advanced principles which give Christians good reason to be distrustful. However, the fact remains that the ACLU, in particular, has occasionally fought for principles which we fully endorse.
Those who know the activities of these groups only from what they read in fundraising letters have good reason to see them as universally “bad.” However, those of us who have actually opposed these groups in the courtroom see these groups in terms of the principles they advance. When we see them advancing principles we oppose, we fight. But when we see them standing for principles we believe in, we are willing to fight on the same side of the war.
The situation is not unlike the partisan wrangling which usually goes on in Congress. Democrats and Republicans usually fight like cats and dogs—and with good reason. But if America faces an external enemy—like Iraq—partisan differences are temporarily set aside, and we simply all become Americans.
There are certain fundamental principles about which all Americans should agree—whether we are conservative, liberal, Christian, Jew, atheist, or agnostic. One of these principles is that religious freedom is a fundamental freedom. We may disagree over the specific application of this freedom, but all Americans should agree that religious freedom is fundamental.
Several months ago a bare majority of economic conservatives on the Supreme Court declared that the free exercise of religion is not a fundamental freedom. All Americans should view this—in effect—as a declaration of war against our way of life and our Constitution.
Our response to any issue must be gauged primarily in terms of the principles involved. If we give inordinate weight to personalities, we will end up supporting things we should oppose and opposing things we should support.
As Christians we have long embraced the concept of separating people from their wrong actions as exemplified by the cliche: We should hate the sin and love the sinner. We should hate child pornography, and when the ACLU argues that the First Amendment protects child pornography, we should oppose them. We should love human life, and when a conservative group favors human life, we should support them. But if a liberal group gets it right on an issue and if a conservative group gets it wrong, we must let our loyalty or hatred stem from biblical principles and not personalities.
It may surprise you to learn that the ACLU of Michigan recently filed a “friend of the court” brief before the Michigan Supreme Court in support of one of HSLDA's cases. We actually have two home-schooling cases before that court. One defends a secular home-schooling family; we have made a parents’ rights constitutional claim for them. The other is a Christian home-schooling family; we have made a freedom of religion claim for them along with the parents’ rights claim. The ACLU’s brief supports only the Christian parents and only on their free exercise claim. The ACLU takes no position on the secular family’s case at all.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not about to join the ACLU. They support the “rights” of abortion and pornography, among many other things I oppose. But I am unwilling to engage in the kind of blind hatred of this group that I see in some quarters.
Christians have to stop being lap dogs for conservatives and junk yard dogs toward liberals. We must doggedly stand for biblical and constitutional principles and be willing to form temporary alliances with anyone willing to stand up for the right principle.
If you have not already done so, take a few moments today to write your Congressmen, urging their support of H.R.5377.
Michael P. Farris