303 Creative vs. The World: How Religious Liberty Hangs in the Balance

/

“God will always be the Christian’s rock of safety. Whether He is on America’s side after we adopt laws as wicked as the (Dis)Respect for Marriage Act is a very good, and sobering, question. Lord willing, God will grant enough religious freedom to endure that faithful pastors and Christians across our land are able to call this nation to repentance and restoration.”

WILLIAM WOLFE

What kind of future do Christians have in America? Will it be one in which we are able to live our lives freely before the face of God, following Him faithfully in all areas and in all callings — including the workplace and the public square — without persecution?

Or will Christians be increasingly driven back into the four walls of the church building by lawsuits, harassment, and discrimination by government powers for our beliefs about gender, marriage, and sexual ethics? Will we have true “religious freedom”—or just the freedom of “worship”? And if just “worship,” how long will that last?

These are the questions that hang in the balance before the Supreme Court with cases like 303 Creative v. Elenis and before our nation with the (Dis)Respect for Marriage Act.

I pit these two different items against each other because they are emblematic of the larger struggle for control of the cultural center of power in our nation. It’s one step forward with positive oral arguments in the 303 Creative case on December 5 and two steps backward with President Biden signing the “Disrespect for Marriage Act” on December 13.

As the Freedom Center explained, “This bill enshrines same-sex marriage into law, likely paving the way for more lawsuits against Americans who want to practice their religious beliefs.”

And as an attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom put it, “This bill, which provides no protection or benefits that same-sex couples don’t already enjoy, deceptively gives lip service to religious liberty while undermining the First Amendment freedoms that belong to each of us.”

After the signing this earlier week (which multiple drag queens attended), pictures of the White House lit up in Pride Flag colors were plastered all over social media. As many astute Christian commentators noted, this was evidence of our state-sponsored national religion on full display. Except it’s not Christianity—it’s LGBT-ianty. Or should we say, LGBT-insanity?

Owen Strachan remarked that this was proof that “We definitely now live in a theocracy, just so you know” but “a neo-pagan theocracy.”

Strachan is on to something. What’s happening right now in America isn’t so much a fight between “Christian religious freedom” and so-called “LGBT rights” (not there is such a thing, because gay people already have all the same rights as the rest of us) but rather between two competing and antithetical religious systems. Ultimately, only one will come out on top. As I wrote recently,

“…the battle for cultural supremacy between Christianity and the LGBTQ agenda and radical gender theory is a zero-sum game. One of these religions will have access to the public square and public spaces. One of these religions will get to fly their flag. One of these religions will have its First Amendment rights protected. And one will not.”

All of this is a setup to underscore how important the 303 Creative case is right now. It’s not really just 303 Creative versus the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, over whether or not her wedding website business has to celebrate same-sex marriage. Nor, by extension, is it now 303 Creative versus the (Dis)Respect for Marriage Act.

No, it’s 303 Creative versus the entire woke, neo-pagan, Pride Flag-waving, and LGBT-worshipping establishment. It’s 303 Creative versus the world. And as Christians, we better be praying that 303 Creative prevails.

As a reminder, what’s at stake in the 303 Creative case is nothing less than the question of whether or not the government (in this case, the State of Colorado) can compel Christians to say things that go against their sincerely held religious beliefs under threat of serious penalty, including fines and imprisonment.

As the Freedom Center explained,

303 Creative owner Lorie Smith is suing Colorado for violating her free-speech rights via the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. The case nearly mirrors Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado, where a Christian baker refused to custom-design products that violated his religious convictions.”

Thankfully, the recent oral arguments before the Supreme Court went well. Most of the conservative justices seemed sympathetic to the arguments made by ADF on behalf of Lorie Smith, the principal of 303 Creative. But I can’t help but consider how, if it wasn’t for Donald Trump’s presidency, and his three Supreme Court appointments, this case would be going in a very different direction. In other words, we are about two Supreme Court justices away from the Colorado-fication of the entire United States.

The stakes are all the higher now that the (Dis)Respect for Marriage Act stands as the law of the land.

Rachel Morrison at National Review offered some hope. She writes,

“Hopefully a win in 303 Creative will prevent state and federal governments from using the force of law to justify coercing government-approved speech and silencing dissenters or ostracizing them from the public square — whether under a state law like [the Colorado law], the federal Respect for Marriage Act, or another law on a different topic altogether.”

I pray Rachel is right. While it may seem that it’s 303 Creative versus the world, there is no doubt which side God is on. As Martin Luther once said, “One with God is a majority.”

The White House might display the proud colors of rebellion for all to see, but we know that one color runs stronger even than the co-opted Rainbow Flag of wickedness, and that’s the red blood of Christ on the cross. Whatever happens with religious liberty in our land, Christians can rest assured knowing that our God will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6-8).

And if we get hauled before rulers to answer for our faith — for why we believe that men are men, women are women, marriage is between a man and a woman, the tomb is empty, and Christ reigns over all and will return in power — we can have confidence, remembering that Jesus told us to “not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” (Luke 12:11-12).

Yes, it appears that the future of religious freedom hangs in the balance in the United States. But the future of eternity is as secure as it has ever been — resting in the pierced hands of Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

As President Ronald Reagan reminded the country in his third State of the Union address in 1984,

“America was founded by people who believed that God was their rock of safety. He is ours. I recognize we must be cautious in claiming that God is on our side, but I think it’s all right to keep asking if we’re on His side.”

God will always be the Christian’s rock of safety. Whether He is on America’s side after we adopt laws as wicked as the (Dis)Respect for Marriage Act is a very good, and sobering, question. Lord willing, God will grant enough religious freedom to endure that faithful pastors and Christians across our land are able to call this nation to repentance and restoration.

Perhaps the first step will be a big win in the 303 Creative case. While we have to wait until next June to get that answer, nothing is stopping us from beginning to pray for that outcome right now.


Follow William on Twitter! @William_E_Wolfe

Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.