Politics and the Church – Where’s the Church? [Part 21]

With elections looming in the near future we start to see signs promoting candidates for the various offices that will be up for contention.  Of the signs I have recently seen, some are for school board positions.  One I particularly noted said “Elect a teacher”.  Under normal conditions that might be reassuring…experience in school operation should be a benefit to those in that elected office.  Somehow, though, I do not find that is a sure way to confidence in the elected official.  I have become somewhat skeptical as to the backgrounds of some of today’s educators and the agendas they have fallen in line with.  Already we have been introduced to the cowardice some in educational leadership display when challenged by the anti-Christ secular side. But what about those educators who are themselves sometimes the problem?  Let’s take a look at a California situation…yes, California…but don’t get the idea that such situations are limited to that state.  Later we will look at some challenging situations right here in Florida.

Teenagers at a California high school were publicly shamed for disagreeing with speakers allowed to push an LGBT agenda during an English class…English class???…according to several upset parents.  The Queer Straight Alliance (QSA) at Acalanes High School in Lafayette lectured students in several ninth-grade classes about LGBT issues, according to Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) which is representing the parents.  [“SF Bay Area School Permits Queer Straight Alliance to Bully Students”, Pacific Justice Institute, February 5, 2015].  What does this subject have to do with English class?  During the class the students, ages fourteen and fifteen, were instructed to stand in a circle…all the while with the class teacher monitoring this action.Then they were grilled about their personal beliefs and their parent’s beliefs on homosexuality.  The QSA had students step forward to demonstrate whether they believed that being gay was a choice and whether their parents would be accepting if they came out as gay?  Students who did not step forward were ridiculed and humiliated. [Ibid].  PJI is a Christian based law firm…yes, there is more than one…that specializes in religious liberty cases. They are representing several student families because there was no parental notification of the LGBT lecture…and especially in an English class.  PJI contested that singling out students for ridicule based on their moral or political beliefs is a Marxist tactic and has no place in the United States of America. [Ibid].  During the lecture the QSA had students line up to demonstrate where they fell on the ‘gender spectrum’…ah, there it is, an English class on vocabulary.  They also learned such words as ‘pan-sexual’, ‘demi-boy’, and ‘gray gender’. [Ibid].  It was an exercise in gender fluidity, as one parent put it to PJI.  The students were told that one day they could come to school feeling like a boy and the next day they could come to school feeling like a girl. [Parent in communication with Todd Starnes, February 2015, parent name withheld].  This was all done with teacher and school administration approval.  PJI commented that these school administrators are acting like schoolyard bullies, but if they think the parents are going to be intimidated they are sadly mistaken. [Ibid].  In addition to her son’s value system being questioned, one parent wanted to know why the QSA was allowed to take over the English class?  No other club gets that kind of face time.  And as you might expect the school superintendent said it’s all about tolerance; it was classroom instruction led by peer educators under the supervision of teachers. [John Nickerson, superintendent, in communication with Todd Starnes, February 2015].  Ah, knowing it was under the supervision of teachers makes me feel so ‘relieved’!  This all happened at the same high school that invited a ‘pleasure activist’…new vocabulary word…from Planned Parenthood to teach sex education to the freshman class.  Students were encouraged to ask each other questions such as, ‘Is it OK if I take off my pants?’ [Ibid].  If this was a lesson in tolerance the one thing to be learned is that the LGBT, liberal community is tolerant of everyone except people who have Christian values.  PJI sent a letter to the school district demanding an explanation of what happened.  I have been unable to find any response but then that doesn’t surprise me.  Has it really come to this, America …forcing students to declare their allegiance to the LGBT agenda?  Possibly schools should stick to teaching English in English class!  Maybe that school board election is more important than you first thought.  Will you find voter guides in your church?

Unfortunately the war on Christianity is not limited to California.  It can even happen right here in Florida and is a good example of why the election for city and county commissioners is so important.  A government crackdown on churches in Lake Worth, Florida, had residents wondering if they live in the United States or the former Soviet Union?  Churches in Lake Worth, population 36,000, were ordered to acquire a business license…I guess separation of church and state only applies if it’s convenient. [Richard L. Mast Jr., Liberty Counsel, letter sent to City of Lake Worth via e-mail on February 23, 2014].  It was as if the church has to get the government’s permission to preach and pray.  City officials…politicians…were so concerned about one congregation that they dispatched a code enforcement officer cloaked in a hoodie to spy on a church that was meeting in a coffeehouse. [Ibid].  According to Liberty Counsel…another Christian legal organization ‘homeported in Florida…”Government employees are public servants and prohibited by the Constitution from inhibiting religious freedom.  That is a far cry from sneaking around and into a church and acting like KGB agents.” [Mat Staver in communication with Todd Starnes, March 2013].  Since when has the Constitution been a deterrent to many of our politicians? Liberty Counsel (LC) called on city leaders…politicians…to immediately rescind the business license mandate on churches.  LC is also representing Common Ground Church, that a city investigator…politician…had targeted.  The church owned and operated a coffeehouse in downtown Lake Worth.  For several months it had used the coffeehouse for a weekly worship service.  Prior to that it had rented space in other buildings in the community.  The pastor Mike Olive had not had any problems until he had an encounter with Andy Amoroso, a city commissioner…politician.  After the church started having services in the coffeehouse on Sundays Amoroso started telling people around town that the church was anti-gay.  Pastor Olive tried to reach out to Amoroso to ask him about it but he did not return the pastor’s phone calls so he went to his office.  He tried to convey to Amoroso  that the church’s message is to love God and love people.  The church’s message was the same to the gay community as it was to the straight community. [Pastor Olive in communication with Todd Starnes, March 2013].  The commissioner…politician…did not seem to appreciate the message.  His response to Pastor Olive was,”Listen, you better not have church down there.” [Ibid].  Not long afterwards a code enforcement officer showed up for a Sunday service wearing a hoodie and had a concealed video camera. [Mast Jr., Liberty Counsel, letter sent to City of Lake Worth].  His report back to Amoroso read something like a KGB report.  Surprising that the National Guard wasn’t called in.  This is a city that prides itself on being a tolerant, multicultural city…except for Christians. The following Sunday a city employee…servant of a politician…showed up and told the church it had one week to vacate the building.  They were accused of operating a church without a business license.  The church was licensed only to sell java, not preach Jesus. [Pastor Olive, in communication with Todd Starnes, March 2013].  William Waters, the city’s community sustainability director…a servant to politicians…said they had nothing against the church, they were simply responding to a complaint…how often do we hear that?  The complaint…a gathering of people was taking place in the form of a church.  The investigation so confirmed.  So if 115 people gather for coffee, that’s OK.  But if they gather for worship that’s against the law…politics.  In the city’s opinion a church is no different than a grocery store, a waffle house, or an adult novelty shop. [William Waters, in communication with Todd Starnes, March 2013].   Pastor Joan Abell of First Presbyterian Church likewise was concerned by the city regulations…politics.  This church had existed for 99 years and never needed a license.  Where does this requirement all of a sudden come from? [The Lake Worth Tribune Facebook page , accessed December 19, 2016].  (I think we know where it came from.)  There is no definitive record of just how many churches paid the licensing fee but First Baptist Church paid nearly $500 in fees to the city…ransom. [Ibid].  Liberty Counsel contends that the city’s action violates the First Amendment to the US Constitution, the Florida Constitution, the Florida Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the federal Religious Lands Uses and Institutionalized Persons Act. “Churches are not businesses and need not obtain such licenses.” [Mast Jr., Liberty Counsel, letter sent to City of Lake Worth].  Waters says that any church that refuses to comply could be shut down by the fire department…yes, I said the fire department. [Waters, in communication with Matt Starnes, March 2013].  This battle is still being fought.  What kind of a stand would your church take.  This is politics vs. the church.

Just this week I received information that the LGBTQ lobby is on the march again.  One of their advocates, Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA)…might know…has proposed “Amend the Code for Marriage Equality Act” (H.R. 98) that would erase the terms “husband” and “wife” from all federal documents and replace them with such “genderless” terms as “spouse” or “partner”…wasn’t Pancho, Cisco’s ‘partner’?  The bill implies that the terms “husband” and “wife” are offensive. Does your church have a committee that is monitoring such attempts and notifying the congregation while working to establish a formal policy on such actions?  The LGBTQ lobby is well organized and funded in this effort.  Is your church prepared to take a stand and put a voice into the arena?

Next week we will take a look at two more Christians who were called upon to take a stand for their Christian faith and beliefs.  WWYD?…What Would You Do?

– Bob Munsey

 

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