Church’s Sign Must Come Down But You Still Have to Bake that Cake
The double standards keep on coming. For sometime Christian bakers, florists, photographers, caterers, and event venues have been sued because they would not participate in same-sex weddings. (They most likely would not have participated in KKK-themed weddings, Nazi-themed weddings, occult-themed weddings, or any type of wedding celebration that was contrary to their beliefs.) The companies that have made the decision not to use their artistic talent to support a practice and/or ideology they disagree with is a liberty issue. It is not exclusively a religious issue. Every business should have the right and freedom to refuse to offer their services to something they disagree with.
After a slew of complaints, Outfront Media has taken down billboards in Dallas proclaiming that “America is a Christian Nation.”
The billboards were purchased by First Baptist Church of Dallas, pastored by Robert Jeffress, to promote the church’s upcoming “Freedom Sunday.” According to the church’s website, the event is designed to “Celebrate our freedom as Americans and our freedom in Christ with patriotic worship and a special message from Dr. Robert Jeffress, ‘America is a Christian Nation.'”
Bowing to the angry chants of the mob, the billboard company told First Baptist Church of Dallas that the billboards were “anger provoking.” To his credit, Jeffress defended the company’s right to conduct their business the way they see fit. He did add:
“It should greatly concern people of any faith when those in the press or government proactively seek to defeat, censor, or silence any religious message with which they disagree. I would not object to someone placing a billboard that said, ‘America is NOT a Christian Nation’ or ‘America is a Muslim Nation.'”
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Jeffress is right. The billboard owner has the right to refuse any message he wants for any reason. A butcher, baker, and candlestick maker should have the same right. Should a bakery owned by an atheist be forced to make a cake with Ps. 14:1 written on it?
The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”
One would think that if it’s a crime not to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, then it should be a crime not to accommodate a person’s freedom of religion and speech making a fuss over a church’s freedom of religion and press.
Of course, neither should be a crime. The billboard owner has every right not to rent advertising space if he doesn’t want to. He doesn’t have to give a reason. The same should be true of bakers and same-sex wedding messages and any other messages that a bakery owner deems inappropriate.
The thing of it is, Dallas Mayor Michael Rawlings and the Dallas Morning News voiced their disapproval of the billboard advertisement for the church’s “America is a Christian Nation” message based on Psalm 33:12: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” That’s a government official and a beneficiary of the First Amendment’s protections of religion, speech, and press.
The mayor called the message “divisive.” In what way? Because people disagree with the message? That’s why we have a First Amendment. You don’t need protection for speech that everyone agrees with. I suppose the mayor of Dallas believes the following from the Texas Constitution is divisive:
Humbly invoking the blessings of Almighty God, the people of the State of Texas, do ordain and establish this Constitution.
A number of atheists protested billboards denouncing the existence of God. They had every right to proclaim themselves to be fools for all the world to see. Here’s one that appeared in Texas:
Here’s another one from Texas:
What about Pastor Jeffress’ claim that America is a Christian nation? Depending on how “Christian nation” is defined, a good case can be made for the belief. The Supreme Court said we are a Christian nation.
In 1892, the United States Supreme Court determined, in the case of The Church of the Holy Trinity vs. United States, that America was a Christian nation from its earliest days. After examining a full range of historical documents, Associate Justice David J. Brewer concluded that Americans are “a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation.” Beginning with Ferdinand and Isabella’s commission to Christopher Columbus—”by the grace of God” and“by God’s assistance”—to make a voyage “to some of the continents and islands in the oceans” to a survey of the state constitutions, the court concluded:
There is no dissonance in these declarations. There is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning; they affirm and reaffirm that this is a religious nation. These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons: they are organic utterances; they speak the voice of the entire people.
If we pass beyond these matters to a view of American life as expressed by its laws, its business, its customs and its society, we find everywhere a clear recognition of the same truth. Among other matters note the following: The form of oath universally prevailing, concluding with an appeal to the Almighty; the custom of opening sessions of all deliberative bodies and most conventions with prayer; the prefatory words of all wills, “In the name of God, amen”; the laws respecting the observance of the Sabbath, with the general cessation of all secular business, and the closing of courts, legislatures, and other similar public assemblies on that day; the churches and church organizations which abound in every city, town and hamlet; the multitude of charitable organizations existing everywhere under Christian auspices; the gigantic missionary associations, with general support, and aiming to establish Christian missions in every quarter of the globe. These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.
Then there’s 1905 book on the subject: The United States a Christian Nation. Here are some excerpts from the book:
- “This republic is classified among the Christian nations of the world” (11).
- “[W]e constantly speak of this republic as a Christian nation–in fact, as the leading Christian nation in the world. This popular use of the term certainly has significance. It is not a mere creation of the imagination. It is not a term of derision but has a substantial basis—one which justifies its use” (12).
- Brewer then spends twenty-six pages convincingly supporting his claim with historical evidence.
- “In no charter or constitution is there anything to even suggest that any other than the Christian is the religion of this country. In none of them is Mohammed or Confucius or Buddha in any manner noticed. In none of them is Judaism recognized other than by way of toleration of its special creed. While the separation of church and state is often affirmed, there is nowhere a repudiation of Christianity as one of the institutions as well as benedictions of society. In short, there is no charter or constitution that is either infidel, agnostic, or anti-Christian. Wherever there is a declaration in favor of any religion it is of the Christian” (31–32).
- “You will have noticed that I have presented no doubtful facts. Nothing has been stated which is debatable. The quotations from charters are in the archives of the several States; the laws are on the statute books; judicial opinions are taken from the official reports; statistics from the census publications. In short, no evidence has been presented which is open to question” (39).
- “I could show how largely our laws and customs are based upon the laws of Moses and the teachings of Christ; how constantly the Bible is appealed to as the guide of life and the authority in questions of morals” (39).
- “This is a Christian nation. . . .” (40).
What we need is a healthy debate, not retreat from controversy and political pressure.