Russia, the United States, and Religious Freedom
Last week my attorneys at Liberty Counsel filed a Motion for Summary Judgment in US Federal Court seeking dismissal of lawsuit charging me with “Crimes Against Humanity” for preaching a factual, Biblical, and humanitarian message against homosexuality in Uganda back in 2009.
Despite the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, and America’s perception of itself as the world leader in religious freedom, this outrageous lawsuit, designed to silence and punish me for standing up for the Bible, is now in its 4th year, and not a single American political leader from either party has publicly condemned it. I don’t believe this lawsuit would have lasted a single day in a Russian court.
This week, the media is abuzz with news about the vetting of Governor Mike Pence of Indiana as Donald Trump’s possible Vice President. Folks might not remember that the last time Gov. Pence was this deep in the media spotlight was over his signing of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in Indiana. RFRA was written in part to prevent the LGBT agenda from steamrolling over the basic civil rights of Christians who disagree with so-called “gay rights.” Indiana’s legislature passed RFRA in response to a campaign in the federal judiciary to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) at the federal and state level, and in anticipation of the Obergefell v Hodges decision of the US Supreme Court (2015), which imposed “gay marriage“ on the nation through judicial fiat.
Governor Pence signed RFRA into law and then was forced to make a humiliating retreat from it (by adding a pro-“gay” amendment that was worse than not passing RFRA in the first place) under a withering political assault by the LGBT lobby and its massive army of surrogates — which by then included several giants of the business world and the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
It was so bad that conservative media questioned whether Pence’s presidential ambitions could be salvaged. I predicted Pence would be forced to cave. But again, such a thing could not happen in Russia today.
But the big news this week is that Russia enacted a new anti-terrorism law that includes in its provisions a restriction on religious freedom for representatives of religious organizations, essentially restricting them to their church buildings and mosques.
I’m unhappy with this law, and see it as a step backward for Russia, though I have read Julio Severo’s article on it, and am relieved that no restrictions are placed on the religious speech of private citizens. The new Russian law is primarily targeted at radical Islam, and addresses the need to prevent its spread in Russia. I perceive the guiding hand of the extremely powerful Russian Orthodox Church in the nuances of the religious registration provisions — and suspect its representatives in the Duma exploited an opportunity to discourage competition from other Christian denominations on their home turf.
On balance I think Russia made a big mistake here, especially with the one group of westerners largely willing to disregard Obama/NeoCon anti-Russian war propaganda — Christian conservatives.
Still, I think we need to keep this in perspective. If we analyze the issue objectively, and use an honest scorecard to rate Russia and the United States on the broader issue of current trends in civil rights, and actual religious freedom for Christians, I think Russia still comes out ahead.
First, the Russian anti-terrorism law is far less destructive of civil liberties generally than the Patriot Act and other laws we have passed since 9/11. I won’t go through the whole litany, but as a constitutional law attorney with a knowledge of the Christian history of America, I can tell you the Founding Fathers are probably still spinning in their graves.
One example is the repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act that once wisely prevented the federal government from using the military for law enforcement within US borders. On December 31, 2011, Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) repealing the post Patriot Act remainders of the Posse Comitatus Act and codifying indefinite military detention without charge or trial in law for the first time in American history. Just this week, Obama took the next step in calling for federalization of the police forces: following a long campaign of heavily militarizing formerly purely administrative agencies of the federal government.
True, this isn’t a religious freedom issue on its face, but could easily become one given Obama’s tremendous hostility to Biblical Christianity (an attitude shared by Hillary Clinton, potentially his successor), and his active de-Christianization of the US Military.
Second, actual restrictions on Bible-believing Christians in America today are worse than in Russia. In 2006 and 2007 I spoke extensively in Russian churches and colleges from St. Petersburg in the far west to Blagoveshchensk in the far east. I was working with an evangelical/charismatic church that was out of favor with the government and I personally experienced the hostility of some government officials. In one city in Siberia, for example, a speaking venue was cancelled under pressure from the government. But we quickly found another one and the event was successfully held. Yet for all of that I spoke to a combined live audience of many thousands of people, and uncountable thousands more through mass media and was well and warmly received in almost every venue.
However, here in America, as an opponent of the LGBT agenda, I have experienced far more hostility and interference from public officials than in Russia. In the US, they can’t be as overt about it — so the hostility is usually passive-aggressive in nature — such as the refusal of the police to interfere with leftist harassment tactics that shut down my lecture at Pastor Ron Greer’s church years ago in Madison Wisconsin. After the “gays” rushed the stage and refused to relinquish it, the cops just stood passively at the back of the room and watched. The Christian organizers and attendees all just sat there helplessly as hundreds of LGBT thugs ringing the church banged on the outside walls with rocks and trash can lids chanting “Crush the Christians, Bring back the Lions.” And that was back in the 1990s before things got really bad. I could cite many more stories of this nature from my own experience and that of my peers — all involving government facilitated suppression of religious freedom and civil liberties.
We’re probably all familiar with the concept of “institutional racism” that supposedly still infuses American society. That may exist at some subliminal level and affect Blacks and others in their interactions with our social and cultural institutions. But if you switch lenses in your 3/D culture-viewing goggles from race to religion beware of whiplash as the massive, pervasive hatred of Biblical Christianity looms into sharp focus before you — of the 800lb charging gorilla variety — institutional anti-Christian bias of Biblical proportions. That hasn’t existed in Russia since the Soviet Communist era.
Third, the current trends regarding religious freedom and human rights in both countries favors Russia. I addressed this topic in a 2014 article that I believe is still accurate and timely.
I will simply add that we have had another two years of national and geopolitical developments to judge each nation by. It is indisputable that the Obama administration and the gate-keeping leftist elites have grown even more hostile to Christianity. Objective Russia-watchers know that the Russians have continued to reestablish their Orthodox roots.
My prayer is that Russia will amend its new law if for no other reason than to reassure Bible-believing Christians around the world that it respects the Bible itself and not just its de facto state church. I will also pray that in the face of what Russia has just done, the United States will wake up and remember what true religious freedom really is — the version established for us by the Founding Fathers and sustained by the blood of many subsequent generations. The version currently being ground under the heels of the Soviet-style Marxists that now control America’s government and media and public education systems.
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