A Violation of the Constitution and Christian Conscience
By Fred Comella
But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. Mark 10:6
One of the questions to the presidential candidates during their final debate last month centered on our nation’s Constitution and whether it is binding or a so-called “living document” subject to “interpretation”. That question made me stop and think about how our true history is obviously not making it into the public school classroom as in past generations. It made me ponder my son’s country, and how it will likely be but a shadow of the one his grandfather swore an oath to defend against all enemies foreign and domestic. And it made me consider the state of the “American Dream”, and how it is being systematically dismantled by a politically vocal and aggressive minority, emboldened by an ideological president and aided by a complicit so-called “main stream media”.
Now those kinds of views pretty much encapsulate my political leanings, and have consistently driven my opinions in public and on paper. With that said my journey to Christ over the past six years, and that fateful Easter Sunday when I made Him Lord and Savior in my life have added yet another and far more powerful dimension to my efforts, cultivating an even greater and more faith oriented respect for the founding of this country. I’ve also been able to reinforce my political beliefs with the facts of what the late Justice Antonin Scalia often referred to as “original intent” and what influenced that intent. Moreover, I’ve discovered and wholly embraced the undeniable truth of our country’s Judeo-Christian and Biblical foundations, and contemplated with emotion, the hopes and aspirations of a certain group of 17th Century separatists, fleeing the religious persecution of an English monarch, and how their efforts set in motion the formation of what I call, “this greatest arrangement for human kind under God”.
I tell you this today, because there are dark clouds building for those who believe as we do. And they are the byproduct of generations of a purposeful and false narrative intended to handicap and ultimately marginalize our Christian faith. For this reason, I hope I might start a conversation which inspires and motivates you to seek the truth about the true origins of your civil liberties, and a government which is yours and your children’s as given to you by God. As a free Christian and citizen of these United States, I want for your children the same as I want for my son, that being the government President Lincoln proclaimed as “of, by and for the people”, and rooted in the Biblical principles which a younger John Adams wrote of in his diary saying: “Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited! Every member would be obliged in conscience, to temperance, frugality, and industry; to justice, kindness, and charity towards his fellow man; and to piety, love, and reverence toward Almighty God… What a Eutopia, what a Paradise would this region be”.
You see, a fair and reasonable reading of the letters and papers of the folks who actually played a role in the birth of this great experiment, can only produce the conclusion, that while our founding principles prohibit the formal adaptation of a national religion, there is not, nor was there ever intended to be a definable or legal “separation of church and state” as some would have you believe. To the contrary, there is actually a preponderance of evidence which demonstrates that from the “Mayflower Compact” on out, the building blocks of our American government were Biblical in nature. In fact, when reading Jefferson in the appropriate context, we see the separation quote is preceded in the same sentence by the free exercise prohibition clause. To be clear, the anti-Christian enemies of our Constitution are always very comfortable cherry picking their quotes and so-called facts so as to manipulate the original meaning. And in many cases they will use the politics and participants of the time to forward their divisive agenda. Thus it remains our responsibility as Christians (and Americans), to do all in our power to ensure our children enjoy their civil liberties as they were intended. But even more importantly, we must stand in defense of those liberties if need be, against an onslaught of those masquerading under a politically motivated and ever-changing banner of equality, but who are actually seeking validation which we as Christians cannot nor should we be required to provide.
A case in point would be the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination “MCAD”, (an unelected group of bureaucrats), which is charged with enforcing the anti-discrimination laws in the state, and which recently published “Gender identity guidance” information, basically spelling out for an Amendment adding “gender identity” to the Bay States anti-discrimination laws, complete with violations and prescribed penalties, that “all persons, regardless of gender identity, shall have the right to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any place of public accommodation.” http://www.mass.gov/mcad/docs/gender-identity-guidance.pdf
Now I’m sure you’ve noticed I haven’t listed any exemption for churches, and that’s because there isn’t any. In fact places of worship are actually listed in the guidance, (Basically putting them on notice that they may be seen as public places requiring public accommodation in certain circumstances). “Even a church could be seen as a place of public accommodation if it holds a secular event, such as a spaghetti supper, that is open to the general public”. Now that’s straight out of the “guidance” outline, and is obviously in stark contrast to our Christian family values sets. So the next time a local church sponsors an event to foster community relations, feed the hungry (spiritually and otherwise), and spread the Gospel to all who would hear it, then it may be considered a “public” event, thus subjecting the church pastor to the possible and aforementioned penalties if access to traditional men’s and lady’s rooms is not afforded to all regardless of their “gender identity”. And this friends, is where the train leaves the tracks.
So am I to understand that an unelected bunch of bureaucrats, who likely understand little in the way of Christian beliefs, but are rather centrally focused only on so-called “equality” (as defined by who?), could now have the power to determine the intent and cause of the church, and that by law, the Attorney General’s Office would then have the authority to prosecute same? Is government now stepping inside the church to dictate the manner in which we may espouse and practice our faith? Will our pastors be punished for promoting Biblical principles and the traditional and recognized standard of boys to the boy’s room and girls to the girl’s room? Is that what Jefferson meant when he wrote “the free exercise thereof”? Of course it isn’t. C’mon folks, common sense tells us something very different, and this is a slippery slope with huge and obvious consequences in the short and long term.
As you might imagine, many in the church leadership in Massachusetts were concerned that this vague and purposely ambiguous piece of legislation, eventually signed into law by a pandering governor and billed simply “guidance”, might be used to open the door to the place where Christians go to worship and hear the Word of Christ, and thus exact punishment for what may be interpreted as bias. (interpreted by who?) An even more detailed reading of the punitive aspects of this so-called guidance, suggests it may even depend on just how badly someone is “offended” if you will, and that those feelings may influence the scope of further sanctions, both criminally and financially in the form of significantly higher fines? (What does that mean???)
Well the lack of any discernible exception for the church, and in fact the specific mention of “houses of worship” in the so-called guidance has caused angst among believers locally and beyond. But more importantly, it’s motivated four local churches to seek legal intervention, uniting to file a federal lawsuit against the MCAD and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, seeking an injunction. As you may have surmised, mine was one of them. My pastor, Dave Aucoin of Abundant Life Assembly of God is a man with a heart for Jesus like no one I’ve never known. His Biblical knowledge, wisdom, and love for his fellow man, made clear my pathway to “His” unconditional love, a pathway I likely never would have realized otherwise. Consequently, you could not convince me of a single bigoted or hateful hair on this man’s head. I sat down with “PD” as I call him, and we talked about what he felt the law meant for our church, and all churches. (And yes, even the ones in Rhode Island), for my friends who think it won’t happen there.
PD was reserved and thoughtful during our conversation, and I could see the concern in his face as he pondered these types of “bathroom bills” and what they meant from a Christian perspective in terms of the use of our church facilities. We continued over Biblical truths and how PD felt strongly that Rhode Island would benefit greatly from an organization like The Massachusetts Family Institute (MFI), who have been instrumental in bringing awareness to these and other issues of the family. For those who don’t know of MFI, they’ve been active in the Bay State for over 20 years and are dedicated to strengthening the family and affirming the Judeo-Christian values upon which it is based. http://www.mafamily.org Throughout our conversation I could feel a steadfastness in PD’s acknowledgement of God’s truth, and how he was genuinely disappointed and hurt because Christians are so regularly and unfairly portrayed as “hateful, mean and bigoted” simply because they espouse the Christian value sets which are corner stones of our American culture. He also prayed for patience and understanding, for our members, the community at large, as well as anyone who wanted to worship, reminding me that all are welcome to do so. PD provided me with Scripture to help with clarity, as well as several quotes of the Founders to bring context to the national and local political discussion. I prayed for him as I understand the potential challenges ahead. And I’m confident in his and our executive boards decision.
Fundamentally and politically, I’m encouraged by the decision of all four churches to stand together in defense of the Constitutional principles which have protected the “free exercise thereof” thing for 240 years. And I’m hopeful all Americans will see the danger ahead concerning efforts like the MCAD “Guidance” Amendment, and how it could certainly be precedent setting. Our civil liberties are the things that make us who we are, both as individuals and as a collective American nation. “Equal justice under the law” should mean something, and it does, without government intrusion on every aspect of our lives. This misguided effort in Massachusetts, promoted and enacted under the guise of some bureaucrat’s notion of equality, flies in the face of the most basic (Declaration) that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”. Why can’t this be taken in the context it was intended, and enforced as such, without creating the very divisions many in politics claim to abhor? To be clear, there are and always should be Amendments such as the 10th, and it is in this way that our federal government retains only the power specifically granted it. However, the checks and balances of this free republic exist to ensure that we don’t cross the line and marginalize one for the other, at the state or federal level. Freedom to worship and live as we choose is a fundamental tenet of our way of life and must never be compromised, not for Christians, or any people of faith for that matter. As a side note, I attended the “Together” conference last weekend and heard that very message. We will never agree on all matters all the time, that’s an unreasonable expectation people. But as Christians we must find the common ground that is right in front of us for the sake of all God’s people, and stop being manipulated by those whose intentions are rooted only in politics and power.
There are good things happening regarding the new law. I think many will be happy to know that “Alliance Defending Freedom” (ADF) will take the case to the Massachusetts AG. They are an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith. I met and spoke briefly with Christiana Holcomb, Esq., who serves as legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, and who is a member of the Center for Christian Ministries. For obvious reasons of attorney client privilege, Christiana could not comment in detail beyond the official press release concerning the case. But she did direct me to their website where you may also read and see video concerning a similar case in Iowa. We did discuss and concur, that Religious liberties are indeed the cornerstone of the First Amendment and that compromising those freedoms endangers all of our civil liberties. For ADF, it’s about these churches being allowed to operate in a manner consistent with their core religious beliefs. First impressions are indeed important, and I have absolutely no doubt that Christiana and ADF will engage this effort fully and to its rightful conclusion.
So I’ve endeavored in this article to stay away from that which I’m not altogether versed in, the legalistic stuff I know would put you to sleep. I’m no faith scholar, pastor, nor do I see myself of a calling or mission per-sea. I just bring to you for your consideration, what I know and understand to be some basic common sense having to do with our Constitution, and how we as Christians should not be put in the position of having to validate something which would compromise our religious beliefs, and certainly not do that in our churches. In the end, the Bible is clear on the matter of sexuality and family so I will not preach. It’s simply not my place. I will however say, that validation by implication or statute, of a practice not in keeping with one’s core faith and beliefs is simply not possible. And no amount of news media misinformation, historical revisionism, Constitutional manipulation, legislative/bureaucratic consorting, slander, or hate of myself or my Christian brothers and sisters will change that. Accordingly however, it is also clear to me that politics weighs heavy on issues like these, and politicians see the obvious benefits of pandering under many a false banner, and by way of untruths to be sure. So to the purveyors and supporters of this Bay State law, as well as any similar unconstitutional effort, be mindful that I am an American Patriot and Christian, who though he does not agree with everything you do, will stand shoulder to shoulder with you defending your “equal” right to be who you choose. I only pray you shall afford me that same respect…
Watch for updates at www.adflegal.org