Eric Metaxas has written best-selling biographies of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and William Wilberforce, and is one of the most popular speakers in America. The headline of his recent BreakPoint commentary caught my eye: "The New Witch Hunt." Here's the story.
Gordon College was founded in 1889 to train Christian missionaries, and moved to its present location north of Boston in 1955. It is the only non-denominational Christian liberal arts college in New England. Gordon's president, Dr. Michael Lindsay, is a Pulitzer Prize nominated author and sociologist with degrees from Baylor, Oxford and Princeton. He is also a longtime and trusted personal friend.
Gordon is deeply committed to academic excellence and freedom of inquiry and dialogue. It does not discriminate in admissions or hiring on the basis of sexual orientation. However, like hundreds of faith-based colleges and universities, it has long embraced a covenant that affirms sexual relations only within heterosexual marriage.
Now enter the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), an Obama administration executive order that bars the government from contracting with organizations which discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Before the president signed the executive order, a group of prominent faith leaders sent him a letter asking him to include an exemption for religious organizations. Co-signers included Catholic Charities USA, World Relief, and Rev. Joel Hunter, a Florida pastor whom Obama considers a close spiritual counselor.
Dr. Lindsay joined them, seeking to preserve religious freedom and the ability of faith-based organizations to govern themselves according to their faith traditions. Several hundred other organizations across America made the same request of the president. However, when news of Dr. Lindsay's signing became public, a firestorm ensued. Even though the university has never discriminated against homosexuals, critics in the region were incensed. More than 3,000 people signed an online petition protesting.
Eric Metaxas calls their reaction "the new witch hunt" and describes one particularly egregious result. For the last 11 years, Gordon sent volunteer student teachers into Lynn, Massachusetts, where 19 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. They provided student-teaching help, mentoring and tutoring. Gordon also invited 80 to 100 fourth-graders on campus for a college day, and planned to expand the program to help 500 youngsters.
But the leaders of Lynn have now ended Gordon's volunteer program with their kids. One official says Dr. Lindsay needs to apologize for the letter. So the children are hurt as the politically-correct witch hunt continues.
I ask you to pray today for Dr. Lindsay and his colleagues at Gordon, and for leaders of other faith-based institutions across America as they face unprecedented attacks on their values and religious freedoms. I encourage you to join me in support of their work to maintain religious freedom in America.
And I ask you to resist discouragement as we continue speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). In the words of the Apostle Paul, "Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9). It's always too soon to give up on God.
Publication date: September 17, 2014
For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
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