Jay Richards and James Robison, co-authors of Indivisible: Restoring Faith, Family and Freedom Before It’s Too Late, analyze the Chick-fil-A controversy on the WSJ site:
The campaign against Chick-fil-A may be a more ominous attack on religious freedom than the Affordable Care Act’s mandates. ObamaCare would force millions of Americans to fund actions they find morally reprehensible but leaves them free to denounce it. The chicken inquisition, by contrast, directly targets religious speech itself. …
Mr. Cathy and many other Americans see marriage as a sacred institution. As a result, the campaign against Mr. Cathy is not just an attack on speech but on religious speech.
Irresponsible parties have referred to Chick-fil-A’s “discrimination” and “anti-gay policies.” There are no such policies. Gay customers and employees are not tossed out of Chick-fil-A restaurants. Mr. Cathy has expressed no animosity toward gays. He has not even referred to same-sex marriage.
He has simply articulated the historical Christian view of marriage, the same one President Obama endorsed until just a couple of months ago. For that thought crime, Mr. Cathy is now the target of a conspiracy of intimidation.
Catholic World Report: One often hears and reads the lament that our country is “too polarized and divided” and needs to “get past partisan differences”? Is that legitimate complaint? Or do the divides indicate real and substantially different perspectives that cannot be reconciled?
Richards: We should do our best to avoid vitriol and stick to rational arguments. But partisanship is hardly unique to our day. If you doubt that, read up on the election of 1800 between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson!
Too often, when people decry partisanship, they are either not thinking very carefully or really mean that we should quit arguing and do what they say.
The truth is, many of today’s political differences reflect real, underlying disagreements – not only about policies, but about fundamental principles. We debate subjects such as the definition of marriage, which would never have occurred to previous generations. The worst way to deal with those differences is to pretend they don’t exist. I’m old-fashioned enough to believe in reason and evidence, and I think the best way to resolve our differences politically is to have a fair and honest debate in full public view.
Catholic World Report: What can ordinary citizens do to both preserve authentic freedom and restore basic values and virtues?
Richards: Before anything, we should pray and pursue holiness. Our culture is far more than our politics. If individuals and communities are transformed by the Holy Spirit, that will have political effects.
At the same time, the current assault on religious freedom should compel us to political action. So we should:
Get informed. Learn the fundamental principles on which good policies are based. (See here for more details.) Spend time thinking about how to translate these principles into policy.
Stand together with fellow believers and lovers of liberty, and stand firm. If millions of us stand together in unity and refuse to comply with the mandate, it will fail. But let’s remember the key strategy of the opposition: To divide us and get us arguing amongst ourselves. We must not fall for this.
German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Not to stand is to stand. Not to speak is to speak.” If we stand here and now, we can still turn the tide.
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