When it comes to college basketball, Lexington, Kentucky is “Title Town USA.” With its precision offense and shot-blocking defense, the home-town University of Kentucky Wildcats won another NCAA national championship a few weeks ago.
But away from the basketball court, some folks in Lexington refuse to acknowledge that religious freedom ranks No. 1 in the Bill of Rights.
Some folks like the local Gay & Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO). If they get their way, religious freedom will be dealt a huge defeat like those served on so many of the Wildcats’ basketball opponents.
Alleging “discrimination,” GLSO is demanding the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission slap a technical foul on the Christian-owned business Hands On Originals.
Blaine Adamson, co-owner of Hands On Originals shirt shop, declined GLSO’s request to print t-shirts for a “pride” parade celebrating homosexual behavior. The co-owners of Hands On Originals sincerely believe in the inspired Word of God, and they strive to live by its commands in their personal and public lives. They disagree with the message served by these “pride” parades, and they exercised their right to be obedient to God.
In retaliation, GLSO is urging large customers of Hands On Originals – including the University of Kentucky – to boycott the shirt shop, which could be forced to lay off employees if business revenue drops substantially.
Blaine Adamson joins a growing list of Christian business owners facing legal attack in the clash between the free exercise of religion – the first liberty affirmed in the U.S. Constitution – and the homosexual legal agenda. The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) and our allies have successfully defended many of them, but other costly legal battles rage on. In New Mexico, Elaine Huguenin awaits appeal of a similar “discrimination” charge – for declining to photograph a same-sex “commitment ceremony.” If convicted, she may have to close her photography business.
This issue brings two vitally important questions into play for believers. How should the Body of Christ respond to these predatory assaults on religious liberty? And, are pastors free to scripturally equip their congregations on how to respond to attacks on religious freedom?
It’s crucial for Christians to understand the serious legal risks they face in the public square as they strive to uphold their biblical beliefs. Pastors also need to understand the attacks against their congregants and how to lead in a time of hostility toward religious freedom.
Pastors can take an important step in leadership by participating in the ADF Pulpit Freedom Sunday October 7th when hundreds of pastors will preach the full counsel of scripture on the issue of candidates and the election to equip their congregations and to counter a challenge to their own free speech.
They do so knowing Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) will bluster and complain. This radical group is threatening pastors with intimidating letters warning them to refrain from speaking on some of the moral issues which will help their congregations.
This bullying has been happening since Congress hastily approved the “Johnson Amendment” in 1954. The act modified the Internal Revenue Service tax code and overturned 178 years of free speech for America’s pastors, who now risk loss of tax exemptions for applying scripture or church teaching to the issue of candidates and elections.
For instance, if Blaine Adamson’s pastor urges the congregation to vote for political candidates who will uphold religious liberty, AU will file a “complaint” (really just a tattle-tale letter) with the Internal Revenue Service demanding the church lose its tax exemption.
The Alliance Defense Fund and our allies are protecting churches willing to courageously challenge this unjust tax law. While we’re not encouraging pastors to become political commentators, we are urging them to determine the content of sermons on their own. For too long, pastors self-censored their messages and essentially enabled the IRS to determine what can and can’t be said in the pulpits of America.
Pulpit Freedom Sunday pastors are forwarding recordings of their sermons to the IRS in hopes of drawing investigations. When IRS officials attempt to whistle a church for a flagrant foul, ADF will sue the IRS in an attempt to overturn the Johnson Amendment. Our goal is to regain complete freedom for America’s churches.
Please pray for victory in the battles for religious freedom in Lexington, in New Mexico, and across America. Pray for free speech for our pastors