A Woman's Perspective On The Times We Live In


April 27, 2016

Are We Really Free To Express Our Faith?

     You may have heard the recent news story about the lay preacher, Dr. Eric Walsh.  If not, let me clue you in.  Dr. Walsh was offered a job as a district health director for the Georgia Department of Public Health.  Before he could even show up for his first day of work, DPH officers and other government workers began investigating his religious activities.  You see, Dr. Walsh is not only a physician, but a lay preacher for the Seventh Day Adventist Church.
     So, even though, by law, Dr. Walsh's religious beliefs are no grounds by which he is to be considered eligible for employment, "DPH officers and other employees spent hours reviewing these [beliefs] and other of Dr. Walsh’s sermons and other public addresses available online; analyzing and taking notes on his religious beliefs and viewpoints on social, cultural and other matters of public concern as expressed in his sermons and other public addresses."  Then barely a week later, DPH announced it had rescinded the job offer that Dr. Walsh had already accepted.
     According to the Fox News Opinion site, there were members of the Georgia Department of Public Health that do not share Dr. Walsh's Biblical worldview, and they used their power to punish him.  Perhaps they were heavily influenced by The Health Initiative, an Atlanta-based group committed to LGBT health issues, and strongly opposed to Walsh’s hiring.  So opposed, in fact, that they told The Georgia Voice, an LGBT-oriented bi-weekly newspaper based in Atlanta, Georgia, "Dr. Walsh’s public displays of anti-gay propaganda and religious rhetoric will become symbols of the department and will further isolate an already vulnerable population. We believe this hire is detrimental to the well-being of our community, as well as to the effectiveness of the Department to conduct meaningful outreach to LGBT Georgians."
     So what exactly was the "anti-gay propaganda and religious rhetoric" that the good doctor was spewing?  Well, Dr. Walsh preached sermons upholding the biblical stance on marriage (a union between one man and one woman), and other topics such as creationism, health, sexuality, world religions, science, and what the Bible says about homosexuality.  So, basically, he was fired -- before he ever started! -- because of something he preached in a sermon.  (NOTE:  The Georgia DPH has now released a statement saying, "During the background check process, DPH learned Dr. Walsh failed to disclose outside employment to his previous public health employer, which also was in violation of California law."  If that was the reason for his termination, then why all investigation into his sermons, and why the statement from The Health Initiative?  I'm not buying it!)
     But this wasn't the first time Dr. Walsh was discriminated against.  The website, Saved To Serve, reported that it all started when Dr. Walsh was invited to be the keynote speaker for a commencement at Pasadena City College in California. LGBT activists and students vehemently protested and Walsh backed out. Not satisfied with the cancellation, the LGBT community and its sympathizers wanted to further damage him emotionally and professionally which resulted in his resignation as director of Pasadena’s public health department. And then the hate followed him all the way across the country to Georgia.
     All this controversy brings me to what I think is a natural question ... Does Religious Freedom really exist in this country?  Or can one small group of the population control the nation's social conscious and launch what amounts to a legally-accepted act of discrimination against people of faith?  You see, the LGBT community in the Atlanta, Georgia region is only an estimated 4.2% of metro Atlanta's population.  Yet, they are able to work in cooperation with government agencies like the Department of Public Health, and corporate giants like Disney, Apple, Time Warner, Intel, and the NFL to coerce Christians from preaching their beliefs in their churches, and can actually effect opportunities of employment.
     One can see these same groups pressuring Georgia Governor Nathan Deal to veto the state's House Bill 757, which would have protected religious freedoms, and would have amended current law "relating to marriage generally, so as to provide that religious officials shall not be required to perform marriage ceremonies in violation of their legal right to free exercise of religion."  The Governor was quoted as saying, “Our people work side by side without regard to the color of our skin, or the religion we adhere to. We are working to make life better for our families and our communities. That is the character of Georgia. I intend to do my part to keep it that way. For that reason, I will veto HB 757.”  Well, Governor, can you show me where the good state of Georgia is willing to work side by side with those of Faith?  Are they to be silenced when they express their views of what they want for their families and communities?
     I have stated it over and over, and sadly, I feel it is necessary to do so again... I do not wish to force my religious views about sexuality or marriage upon another.   While I may not agree with the homosexual lifestyle (based on my faith), that same faith does not require that I force my opinion on another.  That is a decision that I am perfectly willing to let every individual choose for themselves.  I am not called to be another's conscience.  I do not want to control how you live your life.  (Those of my friends who are gay, can attest to the fact that their relationships do not interfere with our friendships). BUT, at the same time I expect to be allowed to live my life in the freedom of my faith, and that includes attending a church that teaches a Biblical perspective on marriage and creationism, for example.  Just as the LGBT community wants to be free to live their lives according to their belief system, I would ask that they offer me the same courtesy.  Allow me to choose for myself, the lifestyle I want to live; do not limit my voice in the public square, just as you want to have yours heard.  And, most of all, let the laws of the land protect my rights, as well as yours!
     It is becoming more and more apparent that we cannot count on the Constitution or our lawmakers to protect our religious liberties.  As long as churches and religious organizations tie themselves to the government's 501(c)3 shackles, it will allow the government, whenever it chooses, to control what is preached, taught, or done to a great extent within those institutions.  And we must admit that government is increasingly bowing down to the pressures of our culture.  Let's face it ... we are being judged ... and condemned ... by those who wish to silence our voice, even if it is done within the confines of the Lord's House.  The sad thing, for me, is that like any social or cultural force, it is the radical branch that wants to force their agenda.  
     So, right now, we are seeing professionals like Dr. Eric Walsh being fired for their religious beliefs.  Seems to me that we are not too far away from what the Bible tells us will be the result of standing for our faith.  Read about it in the Book of Revelation.  It starts out with threats; then we will be prosecuted, fined, and jailed.  And then it's only a step or two until we are being prohibited from buying or selling, and then ultimately killed for refusing to renounce our faith.  Those with no faith in the God of the Bible will say that is a ridiculous statement.  But can you look at what happened to Dr. Eric Walsh, and see that we are more clearly on that destructive path; more so than on a path towards mutual acceptance and tolerance?  How did we get here, so far and so fast?  The Enemy obviously knows his time is short, and we can take consolation in knowing that our Victory is on the horizon.

Revelation 2:10    "Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life."
     

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