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Morning Mama
Genesis 10 –
July 01, 2020
Cameron A. Bowen

(Part 1 is in the morning manna audio)

Genesis 10:1 - Now these [are] the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood.

Genesis 10:2 - The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras.

Genesis 10:3 - And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah.

Genesis 10:4 - And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim.

Genesis 10:5 - By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.

Genesis 10:6 - And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.

Genesis 10:7 - And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtechah: and the sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan.

Genesis 10:8 - And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth.

Genesis 10:9 - He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD.

Genesis 10:10 - And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.


Europe’s tower of Babel

The inauguration of the Council of the European Union’s Lex building last week marks the latest stage in a drawn-out process of regrouping the institution’s staff in three buildings near the Schuman roundabout in the EU district of Brussels.

By Simon Taylor

3/7/07, 5:00 PM CET

Updated 4/12/14, 1:49 PM CET

tower of babel
The inauguration of the Council of the European Union’s Lex building last week marks the latest stage in a drawn-out process of regrouping the institution’s staff in three buildings near the Schuman roundabout in the EU district of Brussels.

The Lex property will house 1,200 Council staff including the 800 translators who are currently working in three buildings scattered across Brussels – Woluwe Heights near the Cora supermarket at the start of the E40 motorway, EspaceRolin at the intersection of Boulevard General Jacques and Chaussée de Wavre, and a site on Place Frère Orban. These three buildings will be vacated now that Lex is available.

Lex’s main purpose is to act as a linguistic nerve centre for the Council and its multitude of working groups of experts. The name was chosen following a survey of staff to reflect the site’s linguistic function. It has seven meeting rooms, two of which are fully equipped with spaces for 150 officials and 29 interpreting booths.

There are currently 23 official languages with the addition in January of Irish, Romanian and Bulgarian. But this number could rise to 29 if Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Turkey join.

Council’s jurist-linguists who ensure that translations into the official languages are legally correct, will also move into Lex in 2008.

The five other meeting rooms are available for other functions at present but can be equipped for working group sessions if needed. According to Johan Burgers, head of unit for the Council’s buildings policy, ministers could meet in Lex if there were an emergency at the Justus Lipsius.

The building will also house the Council’s archives and libraries as well as a 400-seat canteen which can feed 800 people per session.

In addition to the Council’s translators and jurist-lingusts, Lex will house secretaries, managers, information technology staff, librarians, messengers and security guards.

The construction of the building was not simple. The project manager, Lex 2000 building company, had to deal with the collapse of part of rue de la Loi as well as the discovery of 17th century building remains. Nevertheless the project was completed within the three-year deadline at a total cost to the Council of €262 million. The building itself cost €200m, plus €35m for the land and €27m in fees and other costs. Putting up the Lex building posed major ­construction difficulties as the site is bounded by streets on two different levels, with a difference of 15 metres in height ­between the Chausséed’Etterbeek and the higher-up rue de la Loi.

The main pedestrian ­entrance to the building is on rue de la Loi, but since cars and trucks cannot stop on rue de la Loi, there is a pick-up/drop-off point and VIP entrance on the lower level of Chausséed’Etterbeek.

In line with current urban transport policy which aims to encourage office workers to use public transport rather than private vehicles, there are only 200 parking spaces for the 1,200 occupants.

The property will be the first in Belgium with a reinforced façade, designed after the 9/11 attacks in the US, which, in the event of a bomb attack is supposed to prevent the glass exploding inwards and injuring the occupants.

Part of the Council’s brief was for high ecological performance and the building includes heat pump technologies and cogeneration for combined heat and power. Rainwater is recovered and used in the sanitation system while the lighting is controlled by an energy-saving presence detection system.

The building also has a state of the art sound insulation system to deal with the challenges of the building’s location between a busy inner city road, rue de la Loi, and a train station.

Marc Vankeirsbilck from DexiaBanque, co-owner of Lex 2000, the company which managed the project, said that because the tower building was very compact and did not occupy the entire site, the architects have been able to include public space around on Lex on the Chasséed’Etterbeek level including a garden and a water feature. There are two Japanese-style gardens inside the building on the ninth floor to give staff with offices on the inside natural light and a pleasant view. Two panoramic elevators on the outside of the building offer views of the surrounding area. Part of that panorama will be continuing building work.

The next stage of the Council’s plans is to refurbish the newest part of the Résidence Palace building, which lies between the Justus Lipsius building and the Lex building. It will then become the Council’s main office in 2013. At that point the Council’s military and crisis management staff will vacate 158 Avenue de Cortenberg and the ERM building, designed by Henri Maquet, the architect responsible for the Palais de Justice and the Royal Glasshouses at Laeken.

The Council has been a bit of a travelling circus since the 1970s when it occupied the Charlemagne building, which now houses the European Commission’s external relations, trade and enlargement directorates-general. The secretariat then moved across rue de la Loi to the Justus Lipsius building in 1994, six years after work started.

But the rapid succession of EU enlargements meant that the Justus Lipsius had to be extended, not least because the meeting rooms for ministers’ sessions were only designed for 12 member states and were equipped with only ten translation booths for the then nine official languages. The main meeting room was expanded to accommodate 210 people and 25 languages.

This year the Council covered the entrance to create an atrium with 600 places for journalists covering summit meetings.


Tower of Babel: symbol of unfinished business!

25 Apr 2013

In our day, impressive towering structures are going up everywhere. Just last year, the tallest building in the European Union was inaugurated. That building is The Shard in London standing no less than 309.6m or 1015.748 high!

Let’s go to where it all started! Gen 10: 8-9: ‘Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord.’ Then verses 10-11: ‘And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad and Calneh in the land of Shinar. From that land he went to Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah and Resen between Nineveh and Calah’

Nimrod certainly did not lack ambition. We see that his establishment would lay the foundation for what would be the first rebellion against God. At the time the whole earth had ‘one language and one speech.’ As they were expanding they found a plain in the land of Shinar. The land of Shinar is in the region of ancient Babylon in Mesopotamia, part of modern Iraq.

In Genesis 9:1 we read: ‘So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.’ I would think that if anyone who starts a venture wants to expand. However, we see a new strategy put forward in Gen 11:4: ‘And they said: Come let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad the face of the whole earth.’

In other words, the leadership felt that there was somehow in the commandment – remember God is not the business of suggesting - to fill the earth did not resonate with them. Also, one could understand the need to build a tower but why did it have to be so high? Exactly what were they trying to achieve? Nimrod’s ultimate plan was to unite the world. Is there perhaps a modern day phrase that conveys this objective? How about the phrase: ‘New World Order’?

At this stage we will switch terminology and refer to the tower as a ziggurat. What is a ziggurat? The Free Online Dictionary defines it as: ‘a temple tower of the ancient Assyrians and Babylonians, having a form of a terraced pyramid of successively receding stories.’ In other broad base at the bottom but becoming increasingly smaller the higher you go.  Let’s explore ziggurats further. ‘Ziggurat designs ranged from simple bases upon which a temple sat, to marvels of mathematics and construction which spanned several stories and were topped with a temple. The Mesopotamians believed that these pyramid temples connected heaven and earth. In fact, the ziggurat at Babylon was known as ‘Etemenankia’ which means ‘House of the platform between heaven and earth’

This reveals that the purpose of the ziggurat’s height was not a practical one, say to as a lookout post to spot approaching enemies. Was this an attempt to reach another dimension? The plan was thwarted when the languages were ‘confused’ and as the result the ziggurat was not completed. Nimrod and his imposter ‘grand architect’ failed with that attempt and he will fail again.

Scholars estimate the construction of Nimrod’s ziggurat to have been around 2350 BC. Did this rebellion end there or do we find in our day a rekindling of those initiatives of ancient times?. Pres George Bush (sr) made the following speech on 11 Sep 1990: ‘Out of these troubled times, our fifth objective – a new world order –can emerge: a new era – freer from the threat of terror, stronger in the pursuit of justice, and more secure in the quest for peace.’ Eleven years later to the day, 11 Sep 2001, his son also President George Bush (jr) was in charge of a nation who suffered an attack of unprecedented proportions and indeed the ‘troubled times’ his father spoke about were intensified exponentially.

In reality the goal of world unification has not died. There is a dogged persistence and determination to make this a reality. Is it then not interesting that theEuropean Union (Revived Roman Empire) Parliament Building at Brussels, Belgium was designed in the form of an unfinished Tower of Babel? Also a stylized Tower of Babel has been used to advertise the European Union’s goal of human unification under the slogan: ‘Many tongues, one voice.’ The EU Parliament was completed in Dec 1999.

It’s almost like someone is trying to settle a score.

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Cameron Bowen
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Cameron Bowen
Morning Manna - Jun 1, 2020 - 3 Jn 1
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Morning Manna - Jun 3, 2020 - Rev 1
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Morning Manna - Jun 25, 2020 - The First Murder
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Morning Manna - Jun 26, 2020 - The Birth of the Cities
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Morning Manna - Jun 28, 2020 - The Flood Part 2
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Morning Manna - Jun 29, 2020 - Nimrod
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Morning Manna - Jun 30, 2020 - Tower of Babel Part 1
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national review

The Continuing Threat to Religious Liberty | National  Review

Jack Phillips

August 3, 2017 8:00 AM

What’s at stake and what to do about it

Two years to the day after the Supreme Court redefined marriage in Obergefell, the Court announced that it would hear a case about the extent to which private parties may be forced to embrace this new vision of marriage. The case involves Jack Phillips, a Colorado baker who declined to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex-wedding reception.

There was nothing remarkable about Phillips’s decision. With every cake he designs, Jack believes he is serving Christ. He had previously turned down requests to create Halloweenthemed cakes, lewd bachelor-party cakes, and a cake celebrating a divorce. Yet Jack was never reprimanded over those decisions. He found himself in hot water only with the same-sexwedding cake.

The immediate question before the Supreme Court is whether it’s constitutional for Colorado to penalize Jack under its “sexual orientation and gender identity” (SOGI) antidiscrimination statute. But the case has implications for millions of believers from every walk of life and, beyond that, for the health of our culture and our constitutional system of ordered liberty.

While there has always been disagreement about what religious liberty requires in particular cases, the idea of religious liberty as a fundamental human right has more or less been a consensus in America. It became controversial only in recent years as the government tried to force religious conservatives to violate their beliefs on sex and marriage, and as liberal advocacy groups decided that civil liberties aren’t for conscientious objectors to the sexual revolution. That’s why we saw the American Civil Liberties Union oppose Catholic nuns’ attempt to get out of the Obamacare HHS preventive-care mandate, in which the Department of Health and Human Services required employers to provide insurance covering sterilization and birth control — including forms of birth control that prevent embryos from implanting in the uterus, thereby causing abortion.

The HHS mandate garnered the most headlines, but it’s far from the only flashpoint. In several jurisdictions, Catholic Charities and other faith-based adoption agencies have been forced to abandon their invaluable work simply because they want to place needy children only in homes with married moms and dads. The government calls that discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Agree or disagree with Catholic Charities, its belief that mothers and fathers are not interchangeable, that moms and dads are not replaceable, has nothing to do with sexual orientation. And respecting conscience here wouldn’t make a single concrete difference to samesex couples, who would remain free and able to adopt from public agencies and other providers.

Yet lawmakers aren’t just coercing agencies such as Catholic Charities; they’re punishing states for declining to coerce those agencies. When Texas passed a law protecting the freedom of such agencies, California barred state employees from traveling to Texas on “non-essential” official business.

Religious schools adhering to the historic vision of marriage are also at risk. They stand to lose accreditation and nonprofit tax status as well as eligibility for student loans, vouchers, and education savings accounts. The Left regularly equates “homophobia” with racism, knowing full well that the latter can serve as grounds for ending tax-exempt status, as happened to Bob Jones University in the 1970s as a result of racist policies (lifted in 2000) regarding dating and marriage.

During Obergefell oral arguments, Justice Samuel Alito asked the solicitor general whether the state should yank tax exemptions for schools that uphold marriage as the union of man and woman. The solicitor general replied: “It’s certainly going to be an issue.” Right on cue, the Sunday after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell, the New York Times’ religion columnist wrote a piece for Time magazine titled “Now’s the Time to End Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions.”

These vulnerabilities extend to Orthodox Jews, Roman Catholics, Evangelical Christians, confessional Lutherans, Latter-day Saints, Muslims, and anyone else who believes that we are created male and female, and that male and female are created for each other. Charities, schools, and professionals will find themselves on the wrong side of regulations: bans on what government deems “discrimination” in public accommodations and employment; mandates in health care and education; revocation of nonprofit status, accreditation, licensing, and funding. Rolling Stone just profiled the LGBT activist Tim Gill, who has pledged his $500 million fortune to passing SOGI laws that will, in his words, “punish the wicked.”

And it won’t just be government that does the punishing. As the law insists that social conservatives are like racists, big businesses and other institutions will bring their own pressure to bear on anyone who dissents. Professional associations, through licensing and accreditation procedures, will enforce the new orthodoxy. The American Bar Association has promulgated new model rules of professional conduct that make it unethical for lawyers to “discriminate” on the “basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status,” including in “social activities,” which, as former attorney general Ed Meese has explained, would include “church membership and worship activities.” Legally and culturally, believers should prepare for challenges.

Just how far is the Left willing to go? Consider the ACLU’s “Health Care Denied” project. Launched in May 2016, the project solicits complaints against Catholic hospitals to form the bases of lawsuits. These lawsuits claim that, in declining to perform abortions, Catholic hospitals “use their religious identity to discriminate against, and harm, women.” But this is absurd. The mother’s sex has nothing to do with a Catholic hospital’s refusal to kill the unborn and its commitment to saving lives instead.

The ACLU has also sued Catholic hospitals for declining to perform sex-reassignment surgeries. A headline for a California NBC affiliate read: “ACLU sues Carmichael faith-based hospital for denying transgender man hysterectomy.” The hospital was being accused of discrimination based on gender identity.

But Catholic hospitals refuse to remove a healthy and harmless uterus from anyone, whether the person identifies as cisgender or transgender. This doesn’t reflect discrimination based on gender identity, but rather an honest vision of the role of medicine and the proper treatment of gender dysphoria. But the Left is working hard to label all refusals to march with its sexual revolution as exercises of a “license to discriminate.”

It wasn’t always so. The American Civil Liberties Union used to defend civil liberties. Back in 1993, when Bill Clinton signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law, the ACLU was one of its biggest supporters. Nadine Strossen, president of the group’s national board of directors, testified before Congress in support of the law. It was needed, she argued, to “restore to religious liberty the same kind of protection that the Court has given and still does give to other fundamental freedoms.”

Strossen explained that “in order for government to infringe on a liberty, including religious liberty, it has to show some compelling interest, and it has to show that the measure is narrowly tailored so as to do as little damage as possible.” She embraced this legal standard, identifying it as “strict scrutiny” and saying it was “hardly a radical approach.” She even stated that RFRA was needed to protect “such familiar practices” as “permitting religiously sponsored hospitals to decline to provide abortion or contraception services” and ensuring “the inapplicability of highly intrusive educational rules to parochial schools.” She concluded that “these were

decisions . . . that society had previously assumed that religious groups had the right to make for themselves and could not be compelled to change just because society thought otherwise.”

Let that sink in. In 1993, the ACLU endorsed RFRA, saying it would rightly restore for religious liberty the standard used to protect other freedoms — and specifically celebrated the very applications of RFRA that progressives now call abuses never imagined by its supporters. Today, the group sues Catholic hospitals over abortion and sex reassignment and supports a bill — the “Do No Harm Act” — that would amend RFRA so that it couldn’t be used to defend against progressive government mandates in employment and health care, amongst other areas, in response to the Hobby Lobby decision.

Rejecting religious liberty as a fundamental natural right means that the freedoms of a variety of faith traditions on any number of issues may become casualties of progressives’ zeal to quash conservative dissent on sex.

RFRA-style laws have been used to protect a variety of claimants: Apache Indians told they can’t wear the feathers of endangered eagles in their headdresses, Sikhs told they can’t carry a kirpan (a small ceremonial knife) if they work for the government, inner-city black churches zoned out of existence, Muslim prisoners forbidden to grow short beards, and Jewish inmates denied kosher meals. RFRAs became controversial only when the federal RFRA protected the Evangelical owners of Hobby Lobby and when people thought state RFRAs might protect bakers, florists, and photographers who object to same-sex marriage. Rejecting religious liberty as a fundamental natural right means that the freedoms of a variety of faith traditions on any number of issues may become casualties of progressives’ zeal to quash conservative dissent on sex.

Three historical developments have created our current predicament: a change in government, a change in sexual values, and a change in how religion is practiced and how it is viewed by our leaders. An adequate response to current and looming threats to religious liberty will need to address each of these three shifts.

What has changed regarding government? A presumption of liberty has been replaced with a presumption of regulation. Citizens used to think that liberty was primary and government had to justify its coercive regulation. Now people assume that government regulations are the neutral starting point and citizens must justify their liberty.

The progressive movement gave us the administrative state. Limited government and the rule of law were replaced by the nearly unlimited reach of technocrats in governmental agencies. As government assumed authority to regulate more areas of life, the likelihood of its infringing religious liberty increased.

If Thomas Jefferson and James Madison came back to America today and heard about the plight of the Little Sisters of the Poor, their first response would not be to cite the First Amendment; it would be to ask what the Department of Health and Human Services is and what authorizes it to issue a preventive-care mandate. This should be a lesson to religious believers — including many who supported the passage of Obamacare — in how policies that violate economic freedom and massively expand the role of government also can end up violating religious freedom. We must assist those in need without unduly infringing on liberty and while respecting their — and everyone else’s — consciences.

The best defense of religious liberty is a defense of liberty more broadly, a return to limited government and the rule of law. Nowhere is this more applicable than in the never-ending expansion of anti-discrimination statutes. What started out as well-justified efforts to combat racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism have morphed into laws protecting against the “dignitary harm” (i.e., harm to dignity) allegedly inflicted by anyone who disagrees with progressives about human sexuality.

Laws that exist to prevent discrimination on the basis of race, sex, and religion are now being expanded to ban discrimination on the basis of “sexual orientation and gender identity.” As a result, harmless actions and interactions, such as decisions not to perform sex-reassignment surgery or not to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, are being declared unlawful forms of discrimination. While no federal SOGI law exists, half of the U.S. population lives in a jurisdiction with a local or state SOGI. And these SOGIs frequently employ overly broad definitions of “public accommodation” so that almost every business is considered a place of “public accommodation.” It is essential to limit the damage these laws cause and to defeat them when they are proposed.

The comparison with racism is instructive, but not in the way SOGIs’ advocates think. In the 1960s, widespread and systemic racism radically limited African Americans’ freedom to flourish. Social and market forces were not sufficient to remedy the problem. Legal remedies were essential. Do Americans who identify as LGBT face similar challenges today?

Racist businesses refused to serve black people or to serve them in the same spaces and on the same terms as whites. If a business refused to participate in an interracial marriage, it was because that business thought whites were superior to blacks and therefore shouldn’t marry them — not that such a union wouldn’t be a marriage in the first place. By contrast, bakeries don’t refuse to serve people who identify as LGBT because they so identify. Rather, a small number of bakeries can’t in good conscience celebrate same-sex weddings because they think marriage can’t be same-sex.

What justifies the government in telling Jack Phillips that he must create cakes for same-sex weddings? Government has redefined marriage, but that didn’t create an entitlement for some citizens to demand that other citizens help celebrate their same-sex marriages. Activists are using SOGI laws to weaponize the redefinition of marriage. And so we see three important considerations for anti-discrimination policy: the underlying need and justification for government regulation, the scope and reach of that regulation, and the actions and interactions that count as discriminatory.

What about the change in sexual values? How America views the human body, sexuality, marriage, and the family has also changed profoundly since the 1960s. What started as a liberationist movement — asking for the freedom to live and love, be it with contraception or abortion, same-sex relations or transgender identities — now demands that other people support, facilitate, and endorse such choices: that Hobby Lobby’s insurance cover them, that Catholic hospitals perform them, and that various professionals celebrate them.

While the ACLU has largely failed in forcing pro-lifers to perform or pay for abortions, they’ve had more success in coercing traditionalists on LGBT issues. This highlights the reality that, for many people on the left, pro-life views are wrong but understandable, while traditional views on sex, marriage, and gender identity are not merely wrong but bigoted and deplorable. That’s why Catholic hospitals have prevailed against the ACLU in lower courts but Jack Phillips has to plead his case to the Supreme Court.

Any effective long-term response, therefore, cannot merely be about religious liberty or limited government. Ultimately, our goal should be to convince our neighbors that what we believe about sex is true. In the meantime we need to convince them that what we believe is at least reasonable and poses no harm to others, and thus that there’s no reason for the government to penalize it.

You can be in favor of gay marriage and be in favor of Jack’s not being forced to celebrate gay weddings. But if you think support for marriage as the union of husband and wife is akin to racism, you’re less likely to support Jack’s freedom to dissent. Conservatives need to explain why we believe what we believe in terms that our neighbors can understand. We may never convince the ideologues and activists, but most Americans aren’t driven by ideology or activism, and their opinions on these issues aren’t that deep or well informed. These people are persuadable if we make the effort.

In addition to changes in government and sex, religious practice and our understanding of religious liberty have also changed. The mainline Protestant churches became the old-line and now are on the sideline, in the memorable slogan of Father Richard John Neuhaus. This evolution sparked the growth of Evangelicalism, which is now challenged by the influence of mere cultural Christianity. On the Catholic side, the American implementation of the Second Vatican Council splintered the Catholic community into politically liberal, doctrinally heterodox “Spirit of Vatican II” Catholics and politically conservative, doctrinally orthodox “John Paul II” Catholics — with ex-Catholics composing one of the largest religious groups in America. These changes helped fuel the rise of the “nones” — those with no religious affiliation. As Americans become less religious, they care less about religious liberty, for people are most vigilant to protect the rights that they themselves want to exercise.

At the same time, a form of secularism has challenged the role of religion in public life, arguing that religion is appropriate inside the four walls of a house of worship but not on Main Street or Wall Street. The result has been an ever more naked public square, another memorable Neuhaus locution, where religion is viewed as a merely private affair with no public relevance.

These changes help explain why some liberals are trying to drastically narrow the natural right to the free exercise of religion by redefining it as the freedom of worship. If they succeed, the robust religious freedom that made American civil society a light to the world will be reduced to Sunday-morning piety confined to a chapel. The Little Sisters of the Poor will be free to worship how they want in their chapel, but will be forced to comply with the HHS mandate.

To adequately defend religious liberty, then, we must defend religion and work to spread it. In other words, we must evangelize. This takes many forms. Parents and pastors need to form their children and congregants in the truth. Spreading the faith to others — and helping them see the reasonableness of our beliefs — is likewise essential.

So is helping both believers and nonbelievers appreciate the importance of religious liberty.

James Madison explained that religious liberty is a natural right “because what is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator.” Only if people can come to grasp the good of religion will they come to defend robust religious-liberty rights. Even people who aren’t personally religious can see that it is good for us to seek out and answer questions about ultimate origins, destiny, purpose, and meaning. They can see that it is good to live in accordance with religious truth as we each understand it. Religious liberty gives us the space to do precisely that.

And in doing so, it reminds the state that it is limited. As Sherif Girgis and I explain in our new point-counterpoint book with John Corvino, Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination, religious liberty plays a crucial role in preserving civil society as something separate from government. It makes conceptual room for — and promotes in practice — private associations and self-determination. Respect for religious liberty sears into political culture an image of government as limited by higher laws: transcendent moral norms and timeless truths about humanity’s pre-political needs and duties.

Government has no natural general mandate to coerce us, with our rights coming merely from its gracious self-restraint. It’s the other way around: Civil society has moral claims on government. A government that can tell nuns that their health-care plan must cover contraception is a government that can do anything.

To meet the attacks on religious liberty, conservatives must avoid two pitfalls: opting out of politics and defending only “our” people.

Religious liberty has been defended almost exclusively by lawyers, pastors, academics, and other people at 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. As Maggie Gallagher has noted numerous times, social conservatives have largely ignored actual politics. We talk about politics and we litigate to keep the courts from deciding issues against us, but we rarely engage in the actual electoral and political process.

Only one side has flexed political muscle. As Mike Pence will tell you, big business will make it painful for an elected official to do the right thing on these issues. We need 501(c)(4)s, PACs and super PACs, 527s, and other organizations to engage in direct political action, supporting bills and politicians that are good for religious liberty and opposing those that do it harm. What the Susan B. Anthony List has done for the pro-life cause we need done for religious liberty.

As for the second pitfall, conservatives must avoid following the Left’s lead in treating religious liberty as a partisan or tribal issue. In abandoning the religious liberty of conservative believers, the Left has betrayed a fundamental human right. Some on the right seem inclined to commit their own version of this mistake by denying the religious-liberty rights of Muslims, such as when towns refuse to let Muslims build mosques. But the same legal standard must apply to all faiths because the same human right is at stake.

Provided they don’t harm the common good, violate human rights, or otherwise offend justice, Muslims should be free to be authentically Muslim, just as Jews should be free to be authentically Jewish and Christians should be free to be authentically Christian. All of America is better off when these freedoms are protected, as they allow room for all of us to live according to our consciences — and to appeal to other people’s consciences in seeking to persuade them of what we regard as the truth in matters of faith.

Religious liberty is not an embrace of relativism. As we disagree about religious truth, we need to agree to leave legal room for that disagreement to play out in worthy and healthy ways — among people who are free to persuade and convert. People are free to try to convince Jack that he should bake the cake, but the government shouldn’t be allowed to force him to do so.

Religious-liberty protections help preserve the conditions that make peaceful coexistence possible. They acknowledge both man’s dignity and the reality of pluralism and diversity even as we work to know and live the truth.



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