SPRINGFIELD - With a Democrat-controlled Illinois legislature, there's no chance that a bill that passed the Texas Senate last week could ever get a serious hearing in Illinois' Capitol - but it's just good to know there are places in America that still adhere to our Founding Fathers' concept of religious freedom.
The Republican majority of the Texas Senate agreed to move forward legislation that would grant county clerks, judges and various other public personnel the option of recusing themselves from implementing same sex marriages.
"If we don't do this, we are discriminating against people of faith," said the sponsor, Sen. Brian Birdwell. He was referring to clerks, judges, justices of the peace and other elected officials empowered to issue marriage licenses in Texas' 254 counties.
Laws like the one moving forward in Texas have been stopped at the state's top court level, but the issue of religious liberties topping all others is one that has been chipped away over the past few decades.
As the First Amendment to the Constitution says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Some argue that holding the belief in no God, or an irrelevant or disinterested god other than man himself, is in itself a religion, a belief system that competes with the Judeo-Christian belief system.
That "religion" is often referred to as secularism. The First Amendment says Congress should make no law to promote or prohibit a particular belief system. In that case, the State would be restricted from forcing Christians to implement secularists' or Muslim or Hindu beliefs.
Despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015, the state’s highest civil court will reconsider a Houston case challenging the city’s benefits policy for married same-sex couples, the Star-Telegram reports. The court had previously declined to take up the case on an 8-1 vote, letting stand a lower court decision that upheld benefits for same-sex couples.
But Texas Republicans looking to narrow the scope of the landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage urged the Texas court to reconsider. Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in October filed an amicus brief with the court asking it to reconsider the case.
Texas' concept of religious freedom as demonstrated in allowing Christians to reject implementing same sex marriage is sure to be challenged, even again to the U.S. Supreme Court level.
It's time Christians evaluate their belief systems and be prepared to have them challenged.
Even Christians in Illinois.