Crying “Religious Freedom,” but Bearing False Witness

November 23, 2015

The Ninth Commandment states “Thou shalt not bear false witness” (Exodus 20:16). Perhaps this is a passage of the Bible which the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty needs to reread and take to heart. In its self-serving publicity blurb on our court case down in Florida, the Becket Fund tells an outright lie.

In Florida, Prisoners of Christ and Lamb of God Ministries receive money from the tax payers of Florida to run substance abuse recovery programs. Both organizations, as their names make clear, and as their employees admitted in this case, are explicitly Christian. They run Christian programs. They claim, without any basis, that the only way to recover from addiction is with the help of Jesus Christ.

The Becket Fund claims, and manages to keep a straight face while doing so, that CFI’s purpose in its lawsuit “is to try and shut down the program.” Let’s look at why CFI really sued. CFI sued to challenge the illegal provision of tax money to these sectarian organizations. CFI’s action is to protect the interests of ALL Floridians – Christian, humanist, Jewish, Islamic, those of any faith and those of none – under the law. And Florida law, in its constitution, states explicitly “No revenue of the state … shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.” (Florida Constitution, Article I, Section 3).

CFI has not attempted to close down any program. CFI simply requests the law be enforced as written. If Lamb of God Ministries, Prisoners of Christ, or indeed the Becket Fund wish to provide faith based addiction recovery programs, they may continue to do so. What they may not do is illegally require citizens of Florida to pick up the tab for their religious activity.

But that is the problem with organizations like the Becket Fund. They don’t want to engage in charity – they want everyone else to have to pick up the check for their actions. And when organizations like CFI step in to seek to defend the rights of citizens to have the constitution enforced, they cry religious persecution. CFI believes in religious freedom, and has stood side by side with religious groups to defend the rights of Christians who are truly facing persecution, such as those in much of the Islamic world. The Becket Fund, on the other hand, exists only to defend illegal privilege granted to Christians in the United States. Like other right wing Christian groups, they have remained tellingly silent as secularist bloggers in Bangladesh pay the ultimate price for their beliefs, and are hacked to death by mobs with apparent impunity.

So we’d like to ask the Becket Fund to stop lying about CFI, and our case in Florida. We don’t hold out much hope they will, though.

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