I’ve mentioned before that I think religion is harmful. Among other things, it acts as a perception filter that shields the believer from reality but it also makes it difficult to see things in the light of reason. This is illustrated very well in this blog post by Ken Ham, of Answers in Genesis fame.
To understand how serious Ken Ham’s condition is, you have to know that he takes the Biblical creation account in Genesis as literal truth. That means that he is convinced that God created the universe and everything in it in a span of 6 days, taking place some 6000 years ago. Never mind that this goes against everything that science teaches us about the age of the universe, the age of the Earth, the evolution of species, etcetera. The Bible says that it is true and that is what he chooses to believe. Even the Catholic church has accepted evolution as truth and not at odds with the Bible but not Ken Ham and the folks of Answers in Genesis.
Unfortunately for Ken Ham and people like him, society is becoming increasingly secular. Even in the United States, where Answers in Genesis is based and where people are prone to take their Bible literally, it is evident that religion is slowly loosing ground. A sign of this is the recent Supreme Court ruling that marriage inequality is unconstitutional, practically legalising same sex marriage in the entire Union.
This is the very topic of Ham’s blog post, linked to above. This post, entitled “Christians: Increasingly Marginalized and Punished” demonstrates how his religion acts as a perception filter. Where common sense sees equal treatment, Ham’s belief feeds a veritable persecution complex. The entire post is a long whine about how Christians in the United States are no longer able to force their religious beliefs about same sex marriage upon the general population. Let’s take a look at a few of his statements.
It is quickly becoming more and more obvious that religious freedom is declining (quite rapidly) in America.
His opening sentence is already very telling (and full of exaggeration). Having to tolerate marriage equality (which in many modern societies has been the norm for quite some time) is not the same as declining religious freedom. Ken Ham is still entitled to believe whatever he wants about gay people marrying. He’s just no longer entitled to force other people to adhere to his personal beliefs.
Christians are increasingly being punished by the government for acting on their sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage that are based on the standard of Scripture.
Well, if those sincerely held religious beliefs are against the law, I’d say the government is simply doing its job. Suppose someone had sincerely held religious beliefs that said it was against the will of God to stop for red lights. Government would have to act against that and I don’t think Ken would mind that.
He then warns his readers that the Ohio Supreme Court has issued a non-binding advisory, on the topic of what should happen when judges refuse to perform same sex marriages, giving the opinion that this should not be permitted because it would give the impression of bias and prejudice. According to Ham:
What this opinion seems to be implying is that those who hold that marriage is for one man and one woman because of their “personal, moral, or religious beliefs” are unfit to be judges.
I am inclined to agree with that opinion because I think it is of the utmost importance that judges are without bias and prejudice. The law should treat everyone equally, which is why Lady Justice wears a blindfold after all.
Some people may say that judges should be neutral so gay “marriage” shouldn’t be an issue, but Scripture makes it clear that there is no neutrality: “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad” (Matthew 12:30).
The Bible may say so, Ken. Unfortunately for you, not everyone subscribes to your personal beliefs. And for those who do not, your arguments from the Bible sound distinctly silly and backward. The objections against marriage equality have no place in a society based on modern, humanistic values.
Now, whether you are for Christ or against Him becomes the starting point for your thinking—including for judges. So those who stand with Christ and on the authority of His Word and believe that marriage is for one man and one woman as Scripture states (Genesis 2; Matthew 19:4–5); they use this as their starting point for making decisions.
They may do so in their personal life. However, judges are supposed to uphold the constitution, not Scripture. Or would you be fine if a Hindu judge started ruling that the slaughter of cows was wrong? Or a Muslim judge ruling against the consumption of pork? After all, they are only using their belief as the starting point of their thinking.
Sadly, Christians are being increasingly marginalized and punished in this culture—yes, it’s real persecution. In reality, the USA is imposing the state religion of secularism (which is in essence atheism) on people. The state is not neutral!
Here, the persecution complex becomes really apparent. Secularism or atheism is not a religion. It is in fact neutral on the question of God. Hence, it has no bias towards or against religion. The state is required to uphold the constitution and the constitution of the United States is wonderfully secular. If Christians were actually being persecuted, you’d see longer sentences for Christians, state bullying, confiscation of goods, banning Christians from holding office and things like that. Or in old Roman tradition: feeding Christians to the lions. As long as things like these are not happening, it’s not persecution. Unfortunately, Ham’s persecution complex doesn’t allow him to see that equality for law is something entirely different.
Religious freedom is under attack in America and this can be very discouraging. But we must remember that this is a spiritual battle that we are fighting: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
Time would be better spent on fighting your persecution complex, Ken. Instead, you are chasing windmills and imaginary daemons. There’s nothing wrong with marriage equality and there’s no way it endangers your freedom to believe what you want to believe. The only thing that you may not like, but which is only reasonable, is that you are no longer free to make your personal belief the standard by which all things should be judged. And that, to many, is a very good thing.