For me, political positions are based on principle and not whose team you are on. I stand with those people in the arena of ideas who stand for principle. My principles in politics are easily defined. If I am going to rise to defend a cause I want to make sure that I rise for the right things. Religious liberty, Christian Education and the rights of the unborn are about the only things I have ever called on an elected official’s office to discuss.
When I started with the Michigan Association of Christian Schools (MACS) in June of 2000, I talked to the members of the Board, and over and over, I heard the admonition to make friends in Lansing. I heard my task as finding principled people and stand with them for principled positions. Because of our efforts of making friends in Lansing, I know that there were harmful bills to Christian Education and religious liberty that died in committee and never saw the light of day. Today, not only are we blessed with good people in office who understand the principles of religious freedom, we have two MACS graduates in the Michigan House of Representatives. They too, are principled and stand for principle. We are going to need them and everyone else who sees the clear and present danger in the encroachments of religious liberty personified in our Attorney General and the secular progressives on the Michigan Civil Rights Commission (MCRC). Recently The Attorney General and the MCRC have presented coordinated policy ideas of shutting down faith based adoption agencies unwilling to place children in same-sex homes. In 2009 I took two pastors to Lansing with me to testify against the State of Michigan allowing same-sex adoptions. The target at that time was primarily Catholic adoption agencies and since you don’t sink half a ship, if they go down on principle, Christian Schools will not be far behind. The MCRC now wants a list of potential hate crimes and hate speech violators. The definition of who they would place on that list is broad enough to include anyone reading this who has ever spoken Biblical words in the context of societal abnormalities.
Today the organized response to this clear violation of First Amendment freedoms is coming from good organizations like the Thomas Moore Law Center out of Ann Arbor and Salt and Light Global (full disclosure, I serve on the Board of Salt and Light) and good men like Pastor Jason Georges of Immanuel Baptist Church of Corunna where I am a member. I stand with them. Our adversary has no litmus test or statement of faith they are singling out for state-sponsored scrutiny, we are all on that radar screen.
Paul encourages “And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2 In Pauls’ day, to say that Jesus Christ is Lord was not only a statement of Faith, it was and is a political statement, for if Jesus Christ is Lord, then our Governor, Supreme Court, and any elected official isn’t. Just Jesus. My charge from the Board to make friends in Lansing mirrors my desire to “be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” Philippians 2.
I’m often encouraged by the historic example of men of faith who have gone on before us. And their principled response to defending religious liberty. In one of our nations darkest hours, Pastor Peter Muhlenberg stood in his pulpit in his Lutheran Church on January 21, 1776 and delivered a message from Ecclesiaties 3. The British regulars had just ransacked his brother Frederick Muhlenberg’s Church in New York City. Pastor Peter Muhlenberg read Ecclesiaties 3 and when he came to verse 8 “there is a time for war and a time for peace,” he dramatically removed his ministerial robe to reveal to his congregation his uniform of the Virginia militia. Marching to the back of the church he declared to all if you do not choose to fight, if you do not choose to protect your liberties, there will soon be no liberties to protect.
Today is not the day to be timid, we have every reason to be confident in our the rightness of our cause. We have good people inside the halls of Lansing and our legal counsel is preparing proper principled responses on our behalf. We are engaged with the present reality. Our political adversaries have no compunction as to who they wish to silence. As for me, as God allows, I will pursue principled positions easily defined and defended.
Please join us April 23 in Lansing for our Friends of Michigan Association of Christian Schools Legislative Day.