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There They Go Again

There They Go Again

You’d think people would learn. But when it comes to faith matters, ignorance in American society is running rampant.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) is a radical anti-Christian organization. Their entire reason for existing is to eliminate the influence of the Christian faith from American society to the highest degree possible. Their strategy for doing this is to find instances where someone in public life, or in some public institution, expresses a thought or belief favoring Christianity, then going after them with the law. Generally, they will first send a letter telling the entity that they are breaking the law by going against the constitutional mandate of “separation of church and state.” In the letter, they threaten to sue if their target doesn’t back down. And if they don’t back down, a lawsuit is filed.

One of the primary leaders of the FFRF is Dan Barker. Earlier in his life, Barker was actually in church ministry, but at some point got disillusioned with his faith and became a hard-core Atheist. Subsequently, he helped found the FFRF and has been suing Christians ever since.

In one of his most recent assaults on Christianity, he filed a complaint against the head coach of the University of South Carolina’s women’s basketball team. Following their NCAA tournament win, Coach Dawn Staley expressed her belief in God in a post-game press conference.

That caught the attention of FFRF, and they sent a letter to the University of South Carolina accusing her of violating the separation of church and state. They specifically accused her of coercing her students to adopt her Christian faith, and creating a hostile environment for those who don’t believe in Christ. They then asserted that her actions “cannot be countenanced by a public university.”

Barker’s hatred of Christianity is often seen in his vitriol. Since he became an avowed Atheist, he came to see the Christian faith as competition to his Atheistic religion.

Most Atheists object to that characterization as they honestly believe they don’t have any religious beliefs. That is not true, however, as the tenets of Atheism have no empirical backing and must be believed by faith. It is a religious point of view.

But there is one other critical mistake that Barker and FFRF make in going after Christians. Their understanding of “separation of church and state” is simply in error. There is a massive difference between “separation of church and state” and “separation of faith and state.”

First of all, separation of church and state is nowhere found in the U.S. Constitution. When making their arguments, FFRF invariably points to is the establishment clause of first amendment to the Constitution which prohibits the government from establishing a state church. They interpret that amendment to mean Christians can’t speak of their faith in public. That is simply a misinterpretation. But they use it anyway in their attempt to eliminate Christianity from the public square. Almost without exception, when FFRF brings these cases, they end up losing in court because the very premise of their case is in error.

The truth is, EVERYONE is entitled to freedom of conscience and, based on that very same first amendment, are entitled to freely express what they believe. This goes for Christians as well as Atheists. When an individual expresses their personal faith point of view, unless they specifically say it is on behalf of some public institution, they are speaking their own view. This is exactly what Coach Staley did in her post-game interview. She was not speaking on behalf of the university, but was expressing her own viewpoint – which she is entitled to do, even if Mr. Barker doesn’t like it. This, of course, does not mean that people can just willy-nilly talk about faith matters in the workplace in places where it interferes with doing their job. But Coach Staley’s actions did not cross that line.

While the federal government is not entitled to establish a state church, people who work for the government are entitled to express their personal viewpoint regarding their values. They are not entitled to use the tenets of a religious organization as the basis for making policy, but they are able to use their personal values as the basis for the policy decisions they make.

EVERY policy decision anyone ever makes is based on some set of values. There is no such thing as a decision that does not have a values basis. Barker’s objections are based on the fact that he wants decisions and actions to be made based on his values, rather than on those of someone who happens to be a Christian. You never see FFRF going after coaches who curse and express non-biblical values in their post-game interviews (even though those are also expressions of faith values).

Yes, there is a difference between “separation of church and state” and “separation of faith and state.” The first represents government establishment of a religious point of view, while the second is the expression of an individual’s personal value system. The first is illegal. The second is perfectly legit!

Freddy Davis is the president of MarketFaith Ministries. He is the author of numerous books entitled The Truth MirageRules for Christians RadicalsLiberalism vs. Conservatism, and his latest book Shattering the Truth Mirage 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.

You may also contact Freddy at Leadership Speakers Bureau to schedule him for speaking or leadership engagements.

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