Yesterday the President nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. By all accounts, Gorsuch is a highly qualified nominee, possessing the skills and temperament needed by a Supreme Court justice. His nomination will be fiercely contested in the poisonous atmosphere of Washington politics, of course, but that is to be expected.
From what I have read about Judge Gorsuch, his track record of decisions indicates he possesses a robust view of religious freedom. His opinions – ranging from the Hobby Lobby case to the Andrew Yellowbear case – reveal a firm commitment to defend the free exercise of religion from governmental intrusion. And as a Christian concerned about the growing threat to religious liberty in America, I am thrilled with this nominee.
But I am not sanguine about the long-term prospects for religious freedom in our country. The radical LGBTQI community has set its sites on stripping accreditation from religious schools with traditional codes of conduct, on removing tax exempt status from churches that hold to orthodox teaching, and on shutting down businesses or driving employees from the work place if they possess conscientious scruples about the Christian view of marriage. Let’s face it – when 26% of Americans under the age of 40 think I should be required to perform same-sex weddings, the future of religious freedom is pretty dim.
So if Judge Gorsuch is confirmed to the Supreme Court, his presence may offer believers a reprieve from the erosion of religious rights in American, but it will be a temporary one in my view. And we should use this respite to proactively prepare for the time when the tide of repression regains force. Here are some ideas I have – I’d love to hear yours:
- Churches, mosques, and synagogues should start budgeting for the loss of tax exempt status. For those churches that have strayed far from the New Testament model of ministry, this will be a major blow. But all religious groups holding the line of conviction on marriage must prepare to lose the privilege of tax exemption.
- Private schools that receive federal money should start development plans to wean off of this money. For example, private colleges need to reconsider their sports programs. Athletics draws in lots of federal grant money for needy student-athletes. Schools that rely on this money will face financial catastrophe if the government strips them of accreditation (and with it, access to federal student aid).
- Believers should start networking with other believers to provide employment opportunities. Many believers are one activist away from losing a job (or a business). We need to network with each other (especially small business owners) to provide a safety net for opportunities should someone become a victim of conscience.
I will be praying for Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation. But let’s all be praying for wisdom and courage as we live out our faith.