Michaela Bush, Columnist
A couple of weeks ago according to Christianpost.com, a minister in Georgia was given a court order to hand over his sermons as well as his Bible. The reason? In order to review his sermons with concerns as to how he was presenting homosexuality. In 2014, pastors in Huston were requested to do the same thing, for similar reasons. Both requests were dropped after an overwhelmingly negative response from other people. While a lot of people might think it’s an excellent and progressive idea to review someone’s sermons in order to make sure they were being fair towards homosexuals, it’s an issue on so many levels.
First of all, it’s obvious that these requests are, or have the potential to be, an infringement upon our first amendment rights. Tolerance is absolutely not forcing everyone to keep their mouths shut about something they disagree with. Anyone, religious or nonreligious, should be able to understand that monitoring someone’s speeches, and perhaps requiring censorship further along down the road, is obviously going against our basic human rights.
There’s potential for it to turn into another issue: the infringement of the separation of church and state. This rule was not created in order to prevent religion from being presented in public locations, but rather in order to keep the government on the state level from forcing people into practicing one similar religion over another. While the states who have subpoenaed sermons and Bibles from pastors are not requiring them to practice a specific religion over another one, they’re also tampering with what religious people do or do not believe about lifestyle.
Additionally, it’s going against our freedom of religion. If we’re permitted to believe and practice what we believe –as gays are allowed to practice what they believe as well—then requiring someone to provide their sermons to review their messages on homosexuality is questionable. If the government wants to monitor sermons, they’re probably looking for something. Granted other situations where Christian beliefs were ill-received on the basis of their beliefs on homosexuality (such as Christian bakeries or others in the service industry were even sued because they refused to provide their own services to gay weddings), it’s safe to say that this is potentially a very big issue. Finally – a lot of people believe that being against homosexuality on the basis of Christianity is a lie, “because the Bible doesn’t say anything about homosexuality.” Look up the entire story of Sodom and Gommorah, and also, here’s Leviticus 18:22: “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is an abomination.” (In other words, men shouldn’t have sex with men and women shouldn’t have sex with women.) There are other examples as well. If someone’s religious beliefs are clearly listed in the texts they follow for religious purposes, then it’s obviously their right to believe such. Regardless of what their religion is or if those religious beliefs are right or wrong, they still hold these religious beliefs in accordance with God or the gods they believe in, and should not be refused these rights by a government.
I also want to point out that while right now, their intent to subpoena sermons may seem innocent enough. However, with anything, if one provides the government or any group of people the power to “review” texts for levels of tolerance in a group, then they’ll probably begin to take more and more liberties….until our own liberties – let alone privacy – end up stripped away rather inconspicuously. This is why I believe that these instances of subpoenaing sermons on such a basis are completely inappropriate.
Finally, I know a lot of people might feel differently about this, but I think this is absolutely inexcusable. Not only is this an infringement of our freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but it could technically be seen as an infringement upon the separation of church and state, too. What say you?