This Week’s Trenton Musings….
Chains Shall He Break
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
—Christmas carol, “O Holy Night”
Even though it’s Christmastime, I find many recent events to be unsettling.
In New Jersey on November 1, preachers Robert Parker and Don Karns were arrested at Princeton Junction Station in West Windsor as “possible terrorists” for preaching and witnessing to passersby. They had been doing so for the past five years.
In New Jersey on November 9, David Wells was arrested for witnessing at the Monmouth Mall. He faced trial yesterday, December 5. Wells is a retired police officer.
In New Jersey on November 13, Rutgers school bus driver Stan McNeil was fired for praying for a disabled student. McNeil is a U.S. Navy Veteran and retired Newark firefighter.
These actions are illegal according to the U.S. Constitution. But these incidents represent a pattern of abuse that is unfortunately replicated and even exceeded in other states and at the federal level, especially where the forces of sexual unrestraint can portray religious beliefs as a threat to their agenda. We do not have explicit religious liberty protections in New Jersey statutory law, and it’s our job to make sure legislators hear from us that we want those protections put in place.
As of right now, we have no protections for houses of worship regarding homosexual ceremonies and no freedom of conscience protections for ministers, Christian or faith-based businesses, para-church organizations, or individuals who do not support homosexual behavior.
We must join together in resisting those who would intimidate and penalize traditional believers merely because of their faith. The people they are targeting are our brothers and sisters; it could just as easily have been us.
Please make plans to join us at a rally for religious freedom on Monday, December 16, 2013, from 12:00 noon to 2 p.m.
By the way, I do not believe this fight is hopeless. In fact, there is one religious freedom battle where we are beginning to take back ground, and that is the “War on Christmas.” (I quoted “O Holy Night” for a reason!) A New Jersey school district recently reversed course to allow Christmas carols in school productions again. Courts are beginning to recognize not only that Christmas is a legitimate celebration in schools, but that atheist groups who file lawsuits against such celebrations are not really harmed by these practices and thus have no legal basis for making trouble.
To me this says that if we show up consistently and remind the powers that be of what the law says and why it still applies, we can win more than individual battles—we can ultimately turn the tide and restore safety to those who want to share their faith with others.
I’ll see you at the State House.