What if the government told you that you had to create a film, documentary, or radio program that directly conflicted with your core beliefs or face fines that could put you out of business?
Imagine if, on your own time, you wrote a Bible study on God’s plan for marriage and were fired for it?
What if the city told your church that it could no longer provide police or fire protection to it because taxpayer funds can’t support religion?
This week on Freedom Matters we offer a recent panel with three Alliance Defending Freedom clients who find themselves in similar situations.
- Chief Kelvin Cochran has been one of the most honored firefighters in America over the last 20 years. His outstanding work and leadership have been acclaimed by former President Barak Obama and repeatedly recognized by his longtime colleagues among the city officials of Atlanta.
That all changed a couple of years ago when word got around that Chief Cochran had written a devotional book for the men of his church, in which he briefly referenced his Bible-based beliefs about marriage and human sexuality.
Although an internal investigation found that the book was written on his own time, and that none of Chief Cochran’s beliefs had compromised his work or caused any problems with co-workers across his many years of service, he was summarily fired by Atlanta city officials in order to show their respect for “tolerance.”
- Annette Kiehne is director of the learning center at Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Missouri. Her school applied for a state grant designed to provide for a rubberized surface to make playgrounds safer.
Trinity Lutheran more than qualified for the grant, but state officials decided they couldn’t give them the money – they didn’t want to be seen as “establishing religion” in violation of the First Amendment.
Because nothing establishes a religion like providing funds to keep children from banging their heads and skinning their knees.
- Carl Larsen is a filmmaker in St. Cloud, Minnesota. He and his wife Angel feel a particular passion for marriage – for what it means, for what it was designed to be, for the impact it can have not only on a man and a woman but on those around them.
As filmmakers, they want to begin telling more marriage and wedding stories … but they realize, in the current legal climate, that if they want to use their talents to celebrate God’s intention for marriage they would be required to celebrate same-sex unions as well.
So the Larsens have elected to file what’s called a “pre-enforcement challenge” against local laws that would compel them to violate their beliefs and use their creativity to promote an idea they don’t agree with.
Erik Stanley is senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom and Director of the Center for Christian Ministries. He has represented ADF clients across the country and will appear before the United States Supreme Court on behalf of Trinity Lutheran Church on April 19th.
What we’d like you to learn from their stories and viewpoint is what it’s like to be on the receiving end of this entrenched opposition to what was – in the eyes of those who settled and founded our nation – America’s first and most crucial freedom.
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