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One of many recollections from staying the night at Grandpa and Grandma Rogers’s farm as a kid was awakening in the morning to a glorious bird chorus. There seemed to be more birds and more variety in the country. This is still my favorite music.
 
Their farm was just five minutes outside of the small village in which I grew up in southeastern Ohio. It's where I earned my first dollar "putting up hay" and mucking stalls, where I rode ponies, watched butchering, fed the chickens and pigs, hunted squirrels and rabbits, and milked the cow. I value these experiences at the top of my memories.
 
This came to me in the predawn this Maryland morning when I awakened to silence, then heard one bird sing one note. Not much but he was first. Soon another then another, a slow symphony.
 
Both grandparents and a simpler time came to mind.
 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

Religious freedom is experiencing a global crisis

Restrictions on the freedom to choose a religion or to choose no religion at all are under serious threat or are already restricted.  So, also, is the free exercise of religion in manifest worship or practice, not only in autocratic regimes like North Korea, China, or several Middle Eastern countries, but increasingly also in Western democracies.

Globally, “40 percent of world countries suffer high restrictions to religious freedom or freedom of belief.  Since many of them are populous nations, however, this adds up to 5.9 billion of the world population.” And among Christians, “more than 300 people are murdered monthly throughout the world because of their religious faith.”  

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Christianity is “the most persecuted religion in the world.” Some 215 million Christians are being persecuted due to their faith, according to Open Doors, about 1 in 12 Christians worldwide. 

While Christians may be the most persecuted religion in the world, they are followed closely by Muslims, Jews, and other religious minorities. 

In the U.S., “according to Pew Research, more than a third of all Americans born after 1980 identify with no religion. That is the highest percentage ever. In a recent Gallup Poll, only 47% of American adults said they were members of a church, mosque or synagogue. It was the first time since Gallup began asking Americans about religious membership in the 1930s that a majority of Americans said they were not members of a church, mosque or synagogue.”  What this means for the future of religious freedom in the US is uncertain, but it does not appear to be a positive trend.

Religious freedom in the West, or what we call “free societies,” is becoming politicized.  Now, religious freedom or religious liberty are even being denigrated as just code words, or worse, “dog whistles.” For example, in 2016 the chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, created by Congress to protect the civil rights of all Americans, issued the following statement: “[t]he phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ [are…] code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, [and] Christian supremacy….” Such attitudes would have been unheard of just a few short years ago.

America’s Founders considered the fact of and practice of religion the best means of maintaining personal responsibility, social order, and self-government.  Without the moral compass religion provides, they believed, there is no restraint.  Men and women do what’s right in their own eyes, which is to say, chaos.

So, the need to protect the precious God-given unalienable right is not just something to worry about in authoritarian countries elsewhere in the world but right here at home.  

Recently it was my privilege to host a webinar for SAT-7 called “Collaboration for HOPE: Religious Freedom, the Most Precious God-given Right.” Our guests were Shirin Taber, Director of Empower Women Media, Rita El-Mounayer and Phil Hilditch, both of SAT-7 International. It was an enjoyable learning experience and can be accessed here:

Religious freedom is the bedrock freedom.  To lose religious freedom is to lose our foundation and potential as a free and open society.  Without religious freedom, the liberty to think, decide, worship as one’s convictions direct, how can we say we are truly free?

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

Periodically, I hear someone claim the American Church is experiencing “persecution.” With due respect, I don’t use that term for the US because, frankly, while churches in the US have been harassed by government or other entities, and while perhaps someday genuine persecution will actually come to this country, it’s not now.
 
Meanwhile, persecution of the Church, Christians, Muslims, Jews, or religious minorities is rampant elsewhere in the world. Indeed, restrictions on religious freedom is now a global crisis, in autocratic and religiously dominated regimes and also in democratic countries.
 
Christians should defend and promote religious freedom, the “first freedom,” for all human beings, whatever their religion or no religion at all. It’s part of Love your neighbor as yourself.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

In the past year, we’ve witnessed the wholesale politicization of media, science, law and order, Big Tech, entertainment, public education in the grades and higher academia, professional sports, and culture. 

This politicization is largely driven by a new ideology of identity (Woke or Leftist), i.e., “social justice” re race and ethnicity, SOGI=sexual orientation and gender identity, age, and class (group or collectivist mentality, especially “intersectionality,” not individualism, is the rule). It’s an ideology that rejects moral or objective truth and rationality, American ideals and patriotism, science, capitalism, and the traditional family.

This new ideology has pulled off a coup of immediate and immense cultural implications

Ironically, the new ideology pushes victimhood re the offense du jour as its path to power, wielding cancel culture to silence opposition.

Reasonableness, appeals to historical evidence, science, or even rationality are passe. 

It’s now nearly impossible to conduct a discussion or debate, based on reason or any respect for demonstrable evidence because feelings or “lived experience” or demography count more. This is apparent every day in what we still euphemistically call “the news.” Now someone might share what’s called “his truth” or “her truth,” but no objective determination of right or best or good or honorable can be made, unless of course it is the currently acceptable ideological narrative backed by the power of media.

The same is now the case for politicians: a lie or “alternative facts” are as useful as “the truth,” because no one knows, or seemingly cares, what that is. This is especially the case with race, sexuality/gender, and climate change, all on the current ideological holy list. 

Politicians, celebrities, and corporations rush to virtue signal their “social justice” bona fides because they are deathly afraid of being labeled “not inclusive,” or worse “racist,” the ultimate all-purpose Scarlet Letter for anyone who dares question the logic or evidence behind the latest oppression story. 

(I’m not saying racism does not exist. Of course, it does. I am suggesting that not every development every day is about race, even when two or more races are involved, nor is it necessarily about hate. This, too, exists, but the root cause is sin in the human heart across all races, ethnicities, and genders. If you think of social problems traceable to human depravity it is harder to make the leap that every ill, every crime, every negative development is somehow about the oppression of one race over another, particularly in what is, while not a perfect society, certainly one with lofty and timeless ideals and a track record moving toward liberty and justice for all.)

Big Tech rushes to censor anyone who dares to question government mask mandates and lockdowns or who discusses something like the merits of Hydroxychloroquine. And Big Tech labels as “misinformation” people’s post that question a lack of authorized police response or absence of prosecution of those who orchestrated race riots, which destroyed property and stymied businesses, largely based on false narratives about police. Similarly, Big Tech wielded its censorship power against politicians or stories, like the Hunter Biden laptop, that it considered unacceptable prior to the 2020 election.

Add to these trends, a pandemic that partisan politicians, stoked by media, have used to increase government intrusion via inconsistent “mandates” limiting civil liberties, closing businesses, schools, and churches, and more in the name of public health. These questionable and draconian lockdown orders decimated the American economy even as certain politicians, public health officials, and cultural elites ominously call for continuing restrictions, seemingly oblivious of, or at least not accountable for, the innumerable negative side-effects these pandemic orders generate, like social isolation and increases in depression and suicides, school children falling farther behind, and a surge in domestic abuse. 

This ideology argues anti-racism as it advances a racist re-segregation. It argues tolerance while expressing bigotry toward religion and religious moral views. It promotes victimhood and oppression mentality in the name of “equity,” while in essence arguing government should grant special awards and status to certain groups. It preaches “trust the science” but ignores science re sexuality and gender. It used the pandemic to argue for vaccines based on race. It promotes freedom while pushing for ever-greater control, power, and the capacity to silence opposition. Virtually everything about this ideology is anti-Christian, anti-American, and anti-freedom.

Meanwhile, the American public seems to have gone along to get along, apparently unaware of the singular changes afoot that threaten much that has been good in the American way of life. 

The issue here is not simply assessing a given response to the pandemic. It’s not to deny the existence of racism or to suggest people embracing hybrid sexualities should be denied their civil liberties. It’s not to argue a partisan point or align with a given political leader. 

The far greater issue is the long-term impact upon the ideals and aspirations of the American republic and whether it can continue to exist as a free and democratic society.

If the First Amendment can be willy-nilly set aside in the name of fear-mongered public safety—suppressing freedom of religion and assembly, 

If freedom of speech can be trampled by Big Tech and some governments and universities because the ideas being expressed don’t fit an acceptable narrative,

If objective truth really does not matter as much as subjective, i.e., changeable, feelings,

If American culture does not have enough moral and rational belief and understanding that we no longer think there is a difference between men and women, even contrary to biology and DNA,

If demography matters more than truth or right and wrong or knowledge and expertise, 

If the American people can no longer be trusted to make sensible decisions based upon accurate information to care for themselves,

And we need big government, oligarchs, elites, or ideological mobs to sustain us,

the United States of America is in trouble and may not have a future as a free and independent society.

If this sounds alarmist and exaggerated, how else would you describe the trends of Years 2020-2021 and how would you describe what’s next?

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

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For a while now, I’ve been saying sexual progressivism and Christian belief are on collision course, that sexual progressivism is the point of the spear for social justice or woke ideology demanding its views of morality be embraced, no exceptions for religious conscience allowed. 

Christian colleges and universities stand at the nexus of this movement, and they are in trouble. It’s happening.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

I may as well weigh-in now. I recently got a C-19 vaccine...of my own free will.
 
That said, I could not be more thoroughly opposed to the idea of a "vaccine passport." Such a doc or app, suddenly required for access for all manner of activities, would restrict Americans' everyday liberties. The potential for abuse of such a mechanism boggles the mind.
 
And while we're at it, the idea the federal government would create a tax that must be paid by those who opt not to get a vaccine is another abuse of power.
 
C-19 is a virulent virus. The pandemic should be, and it has been, taken seriously, and thankfully progress is being made. But C-19 is one health issue among many that threatens life. It should not be viewed or used--and it has been--as some ultimate big stick that trumps all other considerations, especially fundamental civil liberties in a free society.
 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.