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Why Religious Freedom? Why Freedom of Conscience or Belief?

“The defining question of the 21st century centers on the idea of religious freedom, the cornerstone of all human rights.”

The first is a short yet compelling video provides a narrative introduction to the importance of religious freedom worldwide.

Also, watch former UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, discuss the importance of religious freedom.

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5 Signs America Has Gone Totally Nuts

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1. In New York City, Cooper Union College has decided to remove all “gender markings” from its bathrooms.

As reported by The Guardian, “Last fall, the oldest building on the Cooper Union campus underwent a sudden renovation. A group of students, agitating for their transgender classmates, stripped the words ‘men’ and ‘women’ off the doors of the Foundation Building’s restrooms.”

But rather than discipline the unruly students, “the Cooper Union administration this month moved to remove the gender designations from all the bathrooms on campus by taking down the rest of the men’s and women’s signage from bathrooms.”

Goodbye men’s and women’s bathrooms!

The school’s website is actually boasting about all this, with the homepage headline declaring, “DE-GENDERED RESTROOMS ATTRACT INTERNATIONAL ATTENTION.”

2. In Illinois, a Christian businessman has been fined $80,000 for his faith, and that’s just the beginning…Read More

Pastoral Thoughts on Legalizing Homosexual Marriage

White_House_rainbow_colors_to_celebrate_June_2015_SCOTUS_same-sex_marriage_ruling

(Voice of the Persecuted) So many emotions have flared since the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage in all states across the U.S. Outside the court on Friday, June 26, hundreds of people waved rainbow flags and chanted, “Love has won” in celebration of the decision. Others celebrated across the country.

President Obama hailed the ruling as a victory for America and stated,

“This decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts: When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free.” “In doing so, they’ve reaffirmed that all Americans are entitled to the equal protection of the law, that all people should be treated equally, regardless of who they are or who they love.” “Today, we can say, in no uncertain terms, that we have made our union a little more perfect.” He added, “I know that Americans of good will continue to hold a wide range of views on this issue. Opposition, in some cases, has been based on sincere and deeply held beliefs. All of us who welcome today’s news should be mindful of that fact and recognize different viewpoints, revere our deep commitment to religious freedom.”

In disagreement with the decision, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. shared, “If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”

The list goes on of those for and those against the ruling. Scathing arguments, hateful words and name calling have been witnessed by many on social media sites. Even Christians have been seen spewing hate. How does this edify anyone? Can we effectively shine the light of Christ while screaming “God hates you” in their ear. Did Jesus come for sinners or the righteous? How can a Christian react, without compromising our Christian values? We believe Pastor Chad Roberts, the Lead Pastor at Preaching Christ Church in Kingsport Tennessee, makes some solid points on how to deal with the issue.

Pastoral Thoughts on Legalizing Homosexual Marriage

There are several things I want to say about today’s Supreme Court ruling over same sex marriage. Because part of my responsibilities are to marry people, I believe I have a unique perspective on this complex issue. I want to clarify what I would say to three groups of people…Homosexuals, my congregation and our government officials.

#1. What I want to say to my Homosexual friends

I have several friends who are gay. They have never been rude, disrespectful or unkind. I believe they could say the same about me. I have sat down with several gay couples who have asked me if I believe their lifestyle is wrong and if I think God would have created them gay. This is a serious issue and it needs a clear response.

Does it matter to you?

Some people will never care what God thinks or how God feels.  Perhaps you’re different and it does matter to you if God is pleased with your life. If you are concerned if your lifestyle is right or wrong, then I want to encourage you to pray and talk to God about the choices you’re making. Do you know what Psalms 139:17 says? It’s really an amazing Scripture that can bring a great deal of clarity to this difficult issue. It says, “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God…” Do you know what that is saying? It means we should care how God feels and what He thinks.

If you are someone that you could care less how God feels, then go on and live your life. But if you do care and it does matter to you, then you should humbly say to the Lord, “I may be confused how I feel. I may not have all the answers. But I care what you think and I want my life to be right in your eyes. Show me what is right and wrong.”

God loves honesty. If you are honest with the Lord, He will show you what is right for your life. Don’t let other people shape how you feel. Allow the Lord to shape how you should think and feel. I know there will be more questions. You’re always welcome to contact me (even if I don’t know you personally).  [Pastor Roberts then sent out an invitation to contact him any time to talk through these issues.]

#2. What I want to say to my congregation

There are people attending PCC who are gay. There are also many family members who their loved ones are gay and they care for them deeply. What are we to say to this issue as a Church?

First, homosexuals are welcome at PCC, the same as drunkards, gluttons, fornicators, adulterers and all the other types of sinners we have all been. Here is what we are not going to do. We are not going to pick something like homosexuality and crusade against it. Sin is sin, period. We are all sinners. We all need grace. We all need Jesus. You’re not going to hear me railing from the pulpit each week on homosexuality. I would preach against our lack of prayer and our own sin of pride before I crusade homosexuality.

Second, we the Church, must take our own sins seriously. Did you know that homosexuality was not the only sin that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah? Listen to Ezekiel 16:49, “Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door.” Did you know that verse was in the Bible? Shocking isn’t it?

My facebook newsfeed has blown up with Christians saying, “God is going to judge America.” Indeed He may, but I have not seen one single post that reminds us of 1 Peter 4:17, “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

Preaching Christ Church, let us examine ourselves. What pride, gluttony and laziness exists in us? I don’t need to judge homosexuals…I need to judge my own self. These are the “wicked ways” 2 Chronicles 7:14 speaks of, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.”

Third, this is a not a time to hunker down and circle the wagons. These are spiritually dark days in our nation and yet God calls us to be light. What a time for the Church to show love and preach the Gospel! This could be one of the greatest opportunities the Church has ever had to pray together in unity and seek the Lord for the direction of our country. Will we seize this opportunity or continue to argue over secondary doctrinal issues and keep ourselves divided?

#3. What I want to say our government officials

Here is what I would like to say to my government officials who have made the decision to legalize gay marriage.

First, you have decided to legalize gay marriage, but you should never force me to marry a couple that violates my conscience. If I sit down with a couple whom I deem is too young to get married, I do not have to marry them. They can go to the courthouse, but that doesn’t mean I have to officiate the ceremony. In the same way, don’t force me to do violate my conscience.

Second, you are above your pay grade in this decision. Marriage was created by God. You do not have the authority to “redefine” what He has already established. Of course, this thinking goes against popular thought and society. CS Lewis masterfully described the way modern men views God. Read how he described our view of God…

“The ancient man approached God as an accused person approaches his judge. For the modern man the roles are reversed. He is the judge; God is in the dock. He is quite a kindly judge if God should have a reasonable defense for being the god who permits war, poverty and disease, he is ready to listen to it. The trial may even end in God’s acquittal. But the important thing is that man is on the Bench and God is in the Dock.” (CS Lewis Essay Collection and Other Short Pieces p. 236).

Final Thoughts

I’m not concerned with what people think who scream their views, protest and argue their points (no matter what side they are on, I don’t like people who argue). I don’t need to argue with anyone. I heard an old man say one time, “People will hit their heads against the wall just to enjoy the noise.” I don’t want to be that type of person and I don’t want to debate that type of person.

This writing is intended to give a clear response on where PCC stands on legalizing gay marriage. I hope that those in the homosexual community will know that I love them and weep over their salvation in the same way I weep over my own salvation. I hope those who have family members who are gay will know that I would never want to alienate someone or make them feel less of a person.

I believe my point is very clear. People need Jesus. I need Jesus. You need Jesus, we all do. However, you cannot accept Him without accepting His Word. The Bible is very clear on these issues. That’s why if you care how God thinks and how He feels, that will matter to you. If you don’t care then you are free to live your life however you like…that’s America! But one day, you will give an account. We all will.

So for those who are reading this who are Christians, you and I will stand before God one day. We’ll give an account for our pride, our gluttony…our laziness. We’ll give an account for lust, affairs, greed, lies hate and unforgiveness. Let us cleanse ourselves and repent from our wicked ways!

Sincerely,

Pastor Chad Roberts

10952261_10153013848146276_8428864933977136016_n-Pastor Roberts is also involved in mission work with friends of the Gospel. And he has a heart for the Persecuted. The mission has traveled to many nations that experience persecution and they try to encourage the suffering church. They will be hosting their 5th annual conference for the Persecuted Church on Saturday, Aug. 29th called Stand: A Call for Endurance at Pastor Roberts’ church.

See details below.

Stand- A Call for Endurance Conference

UPDATE: Nurse Fired for Refusing to Participate in Abortions Files Lawsuit Against the Swedish Government

Ellinor Grimmark

Ellinor Grimmark who was not only fired from her position as a midwife for asking not to have to perform abortions because of her belief that human life begins from conception, but who was offered her position back under the condition that she agree to psychological counseling to coerce her into accepting abortion as a “right.”

Alliance Defending Freedom has assisted Mrs. Grimmark’s legal team in Sweden in defending her right of conscience in one of the very few nations in Europe without explicit protection in such employment settings. As Mrs. Grimmark has noted, she became a midwife because she loves children; she wants to bring them into the world rather than prevent them from entering the world. source

“In my contact with my employer or a prospective employer, I have talked very carefully about my inability to perform abortions based on my Christian faith, my sincere religious conviction.

Jönköping County Council’s decisions constitute an interference with the exercise of Mrs. Ellinor Grimmarks right to freedom of conscience and religion under the European Convention on Human Rights, says Ruth Nordstrom, Legal Counsel and President of Scandinavian Human Rights Lawyers. – The County Council has supported the withdrawals of offered job positions as a midwife at three different hospitals, and set up an obligation to perform abortions as a condition for employment as a midwife. This is a requirement that puts persons of a certain religion or other beliefs in a discriminatory position. Read Full Article Here

Woman in Sweden Denied Work as Midwife for Refusing to Perform Abortions

Ellinor Grimmark

A Christian woman in Sweden has been unable to find work as a midwife since a hospital where she interned last year let her go for refusing to help perform abortions.

Hospital officials in the southern town of Eksjö had promised to extend Ellinor Grimmark’s contract until she refused to participate in abortions last summer, she said. Another hospital agreed to hire Grimmark but then reneged due to her convictions and the controversy growing over them, and no other hospital would hire her in spite of a shortage of midwives in Sweden, she said.

“They have said that because I do not perform abortions, I cannot work as midwife,” Grimmark told Morning Star News, referring to both the hospital that let her go and prospective employers. “In my contact with my employer or a prospective employer, I have talked very carefully about my inability to perform abortions based on my Christian faith, my sincere religious conviction. My employer has not been willing to discuss the issue further.”

Grimmark, a 37-year-old wife and mother who has since found work as a nurse, has filed a complaint with Sweden’s Discrimination Ombudsman (DO). Attorneys with human rights group Provita and religious liberty organization Alliance Defending Freedom are helping Grimmark in a case they hope will help establish protections for freedom of conscience in Sweden.

Grimmark, of Tenhult, said she had prepared for work as a midwife with the understanding that the primary responsibility would be to help deliver babies, though she was aware that hospital work in Sweden could conflict with her convictions.

“I knew it could be a problem, but I was hoping for a supportive employer that would be willing to help me and grant me the right to freedom of conscience,” she told Morning Star News. “But unfortunately, I have encountered a very negative attitude and a direct unwillingness to resolve my case. They answered me that, ‘Someone with your opinions has no place at our clinic.’”

Sweden has no comprehensive and clear legal and policy framework regarding freedom of conscience, said Provita CEO Ruth Nordström. She noted, however, that the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR, formally European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms), offers protections and that they are legally binding in Sweden.

“Ellinor Grimmark is denied the right to exercise the most basic manifestation of Article 9 of the ECHR,” Nordström told Morning Star News. “Her employer has not complied with either the Swedish Discrimination Act’s prohibition against direct or indirect discrimination, or the requirement of a general obligation to cooperate with the employee ‘to achieve equal rights and opportunities in working life regardless of religious belief, and in particular to combat employment discrimination on such grounds.’”

A 2010 resolution should greatly affect how the European Court of Human Rights interprets the ECHR articles, she said.

“European case law protects religious manifestation and maintains a right to freedom of conscience, which is strengthened by the Council of Europe resolution 1763 of conscience for health care workers and the protection of freedom of conscience in health care among member states in Europe,” Nordström said.

The case has sparked debate in Sweden, where a woman may obtain an abortion for free at up to 18 weeks after conception, and in some cases 22 weeks. Asserting that legal protections of freedom of conscience would result in violations of the right to an abortion in Sweden, many fear women seeking abortions would run into a shortage of those willing to perform them.

Among those voices is that of the Swedish Association of Health Professionals, whose vice chairwoman, Pia Arndorff, told TT news agency, “As a patient in Sweden, it must be very clear what you can expect according to Swedish law. It should not depend on whom you happen to encounter.”

Sweden and Finland are said to be the only two members of the 47 Council of Europe states without well-defined freedom of conscience measures.

“In the majority of Council of Europe member states, the freedom of conscience is well regulated in national legislation,” Nordström said. “In some countries, the right to freedom of conscience is implemented in the constitution.”

Resolution 1763, which the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly adopted on Oct. 7, 2010, implies the right to conscientious objection in lawful medical care, she said. It stipulates that “No person, hospital or institution shall be coerced, held liable or discriminated against in any manner because of a refusal to perform, accommodate, assist or submit to an abortion, the performance of a human miscarriage, or euthanasia or any act which could cause the death of a human fetus or embryo, for any reason.”

Sweden has been accused of non-compliance of several counts related to freedom of conscience before the European Council of Social Rights. In March 2013 the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe filed a complaint with the Council delineating the counts, and attorneys hope Grimmark’s case could also help bring Sweden into compliance with Council of Europe standards.

Provita’s Nordström, who also serves as president of Scandinavian Human Rights Lawyers, said Grimmark could win a case in the European Court of Human Rights.

Grimmark said she felt hospitals in Sweden spurned her for her Christian convictions.

“I believe that life starts at conception,” she said. “I do not believe that a man may decide over life and death. I believe there is a plan for every person’s life even before birth.”

Morning Star News

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