2014 SBC ANNUAL MEETING
The Christian family that owns Hobby Lobby is expected to win its case before the U.S. Supreme Court that could force the retailer to offer sexual reproduction health benefits that go against the owners’ religious beliefs.
That was the prediction given by Russell Moore, who is president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the Southern Baptist Convention entity assigned to address social, moral and ethical issues.
He made the comment while moderating a panel discussion late Monday that included well-known pastors Rick Warren and David Platt.
For the Southern Baptist family in Oklahoma that owns Hobby Lobby, the stakes are huge.
“Basically, their position is they do not want to coerced by the government to provide technology and pills that cause abortions,” Moore said. “The government says you have to do it or we’re going to fine you out of business.”
All the panelists said that, as religious liberty is challenged more and more in the years to come, Christians will have to get more comfortable supporting the religious liberties of all faiths if they want their own religious freedoms to continue.
The Hobby Lobby prediction and the call for legal support of all faiths highlighted the hour-long conversation.
“Religious liberty will be the civil rights issue of the 21st century,” said Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. “Not just Christians, but for Jews and Muslims. We need to fight for religious pluralism. If not, that voice will be silenced altogether.”
“Religious liberty is the civil rights issue of the next century,” he said. “Because of that, I believe in pluralism.”
Added Moore: “We want to say that we want to fight for everyone’s religious freedoms.”
Warren said one of the reasons that religious liberty is likely to stay in the headlines is because of a changing definition of the word “tolerance.”
“It used to be I treat you with respect and dignity even if I disagree,” Warren explained. “Now, tolerance means all ideas are equally valid. And that’s total nonsense.”
But for many U.S. Christians, the concept of fighting for religious freedoms is not a high priority.
“When it comes to the significance and importance of this issue, I do think it is important,” Platt said. “(But) since I pastor in Alabama, we’re almost blind to what’s going on in some other states.
“I think there’s a complacency in some cases, and other cases are helpful in terms of bringing attention.
“I fear one of the reasons we are quiet on this issue is because so many of our Christians already are not proclaiming the gospel, so there is no cost,” Platt concluded.
The panel also talked about the difference between freedom of worship and freedom of religion. The U.S. Constitution does not guarantee freedom of worship, which would cover only one hour of activity a week in most churches.
The panelists said the legal focus needs to remain on the freedom of religion, which is the activity currently guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
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