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This past September, Lawrence Revell, the Chief of Police of Tallahassee, Florida (where I live), spoke at a law enforcement conference at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) in North Carolina. Revell is a Christian, and doesn’t shy away from expressing his faith to those who wish to engage him on that.
That said, he does not push his beliefs on anyone. And when he spoke at the conference, he did it on his own time, and not as a representative of the City of Tallahassee or the Tallahassee Police Department.
In spite of that, he has come under fire by a coalition of left-wing activist groups who put together a news conference in order to press the city to denounce and demote him. They consider the BGEA to be “one of the nation’s most notorious anti-LGBTQ+ Christian rights groups.” In a statement, they said, “Chief Revell’s public leadership as Chief of Police at such an event furthers an atmosphere of discrimination, intimidation, and harassment against the LGBTQ+ and non-Christian population in Tallahassee.”
There is a lot of this kind of thing going on these days as people who are opposed to Christian values actively work to push Christians out of the public square. They have this bizarre notion Christian beliefs represent hatred and bigotry, and that their beliefs are somehow the epitome of virtue. The particular groups that have come after Chief Revell base their beliefs on their opinion that homosexuality is virtuous.
Here’s the problem, though: They don’t have any kind of objective reason for their beliefs. It is just their personal opinions – and they are attempting to elevate their opinions to be the defacto community standard of morality. The corollary belief is that anyone who disagrees with them is immoral and needs to be shut down.
So now the question must be asked: WHY is approval of homosexuality and disapproval of Christianity a legitimate moral standard? Where does that kind of moral standard come from? Well, let’s look at the origin of moral standards.
The basis for the moral standards asserted by Christianity come from the Bible, and the Bible is considered to be a direct revelation from God. As a transcendent being, God’s revealed standards become an objective foundation for determining right and wrong that applies to every person equally and at all times.
The moral standard asserted by the anti-Christian coalition, however does not have any kind of objective foundation. The basis of their belief system is a naturalistic worldview. Naturalism is the belief that the natural universe, operating by natural laws, is all that exists. There is no God, or any other transcendent reality from which to obtain any kind of objective moral standard. As such, the only place moral standards can possibly come from are human beings – people have to make them up for themselves based on their own personal opinions and preferences. But why their opinion? What makes their opinion any better than anyone else’s?
And the plain and simple answer is, there is no reason. They just have a strong personal desire to have their opinion become the standard, and are willing to use any tactic they can to dominate with their beliefs.
But here’s the deal; their opinion is simply wrong – on more than one level.
First their opinion about Christians is wrong. The fact that Christians understand homosexuality to be immoral does not mean that they believe it is okay to discriminate against homosexuals in the public square. In fact, Chief Revel actually addressed that topic. He said, “I’m more than willing to talk about on duty, my record, and I stand by that. The Tallahasse Police Department has a very long history of not only hiring, but supporting and promoting, including myself, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and I stand by that. ... The real concern, I would hope, would be any differential treatment of members of the community or members of my department, and I can assure you that never happens and that never will happen.”
When it comes to sexual morality, Christianity also teaches that fornication and adultery are immoral. But that doesn’t mean that Christians believe people who participate in those activities should be discriminated against in the public square.
The second reason the activist’s opinion is wrong is that they believe that all religious beliefs should be kept out of the public square – period! The problem with that is, their own beliefs are religious beliefs. Many of them would try to dispute that notion, but is it a fact. Their beliefs are based on their faith in the underlying foundation of their moral values. There is no objective basis for them – they are “religious” beliefs. Thus, their desire to have Chief Revell removed from office is based on their religious faith. So if Christian beliefs are to be kept out of the public square because they are religious beliefs, then their beliefs must be kept out also.
There will be some standard that governs how religious beliefs and values are handled in the public square. It is impossible for it to be any other way. But the standard is not what the activist coalition thinks it is. They think it relates to what people believe. It doesn’t! It relates to how people act. As long as people are not discriminated against on the job, it shouldn’t matter what individuals believe in their own hearts and minds. If beliefs become the standard, then the nay-sayers would also be disqualified based on their own criteria.
Freddy Davis is the president of MarketFaith Ministries. He is the author of numerous books and has a background as an international missionary, pastor, radio host, worldview trainer, and entrepreneur. Freddy is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Communication, and holds MDiv and DMin degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a popular speaker, particularly on the topic of worldview and its practical implications for the Christian life. He lives in Tallahassee, FL, with his wife Deborah.
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Well said, Freddy.
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