“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.” –Dwight D. Eisenhower
I think Eisenhower is correct. Losing our principles—and the ability to argue on the principle of a thing, instead of on heated emotion and twisted rhetoric—will always lead to a loss of our basic freedoms. And this is why I’m going to argue that we have to speak for the principle of religious liberty regardless of who is in office.
Do a little thought experiment with me.
Imagine that our nation puts a Gay Pride Day on the nation’s calendar. In honor of this day every building which has a flag pole is encouraged to put up the rainbow flag to represent the LGBTQ community. The national sentiment becomes that if you support and honor America (all of America) you will do this. To not do this is to violate a “fundamental national public policy”. The pastor of a church refuses to do this, and does so with the support of his church. Because they refused to fly the flag they are now threatened with the loss of tax-exempt status.
Would you say this is wrong?
Most who are advocates of religious freedom would argue that it violates the first amendment. It is wrong for the government to increase taxes on private entities because its employees/members exercised free speech. That is the principle.
That is why I am going to argue that this tweet by Donald Trump is dangerous to religious liberty and we ought to call him on it:
Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 10, 2017
This isn’t about how you feel concerning the NFL and the national anthem protests. That is another debate for another day. And never mind that the NFL gave up their tax-exempt status in 2015. That is irrelevant. Nor is this about whether or not a football league should be included in the 501( c) (6 ) tax code. This is about the principle that you do not increase taxes on a group just because they are perceived as disrespecting our country. To do so is to set a dangerous precedent.
Feel free to argue about the merits of the principle and how far it should extend. But know that the tide could just as easily shift and the word “NFL” could easily change to “church”. In fact such things were being said even in 2015 when Obergefell dropped. The only difference now is that political power has shifted some. But that could just as easily shift in four more years.
If we want to fight for religious liberty it isn’t done by merely voting every four years. The fight for religious liberty is a fight for principle. If your aren’t fighting for these freedoms when you are the one with the privilege then it won’t be long before its lost. We must call for religious liberty on principle and this statement by President Trump is setting a dangerous precedent against free speech which is directly connected to our religious liberty.
UPDATE: After writing this article this morning and scheduling it to post on Friday this came across my Twitter feed:
With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2017
No matter how much you dislike the MSM this is absolutely unconstitutional and again a dangerous precedent..