August 16th, 2010
07:00 AM ET

My Take: President Obama's assault on Americans' first freedom

Editor's Note: Tony Perkins is President of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.

By Tony Perkins, Special to CNN

President Obama has shifted centuries of U.S. diplomatic parlance. We no longer speak of freedom of religion; now, it is only freedom of worship that our government defends.

This is a radical departure, one that threatens to make true religious liberty vulnerable, conditional and limited. As some have said, it is a freedom "only within four walls." That is, you are free to worship within the four walls of your home, church or synagogue, but when you enter the public square or go abroad, leave your religion at home.

In international forums, President Obama and Secretary Clinton repeatedly have retreated to this "freedom of worship" formulation. This is no accident.

Now, President Obama's representatives at the United Nations have shifted ground. The U.S. delegation to the U.N. recently spearheaded approval of the International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). This outfit has just been recognized as a non-governmental organization accredited to the U.N.'s Economic and Social Council.

It's part of the Obama administration's campaign to press the U.N. to affirm the homosexual lifestyle worldwide. For example, IGLHRC members refused to answer the following question put to them in the U.N. last June: Would a member of the clergy be prosecuted for human rights violations if he or she preached on the sinfulness of homosexuality? No response.

Their silence is deafening. No wonder the NO votes plus abstentions exceeded the YES votes for seating this radical group. Significantly, the Egyptian delegate noted that his questions had not been answered. He charged the IGLHRC with violating tenets of Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the U.N. Charter itself. (Coming from Egypt, itself a persistent violator of these U.N. documents, the charge must have stung.)

With President Obama's nomination of Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court, the potential erosion of religious liberty only increases. Ms. Kagan has argued that incorporating foreign law into U.S. Supreme Court rulings would be "a good idea." She maintained in a legal brief that not only must U.S. institutions be barred from expressing disapproval of the homosexual lifestyle, but that a “society that tolerates (such) discrimination by its members is not a just society.”

To Kagan, any public disapproval of sexual relations between men and men or women and women, or any attempt to give preference to marriage as the union of one man and one woman, will inevitably be seen as a form of invidious discrimination-and must be banned.

America's First Freedom–freedom of religion–is in danger of being hounded out of public life, expelled from the public square. The word to millions of believers–Evangelicals, Catholics, Lutherans, Orthodox Jews–is this: Be Amish or be quiet. Keep your quaint religious practices, mumble your odd prayers, but do so in private.

Think of the implications: You try sharing the Gospel with someone, and are accused of "hate speech" and told to be quiet. You have a Bible on your desk at work, and are told this is an aggressive display of a controversial faith–and to remove it. Your church has a float in the local Fourth of July parade and it's denied admittance next year because someone says the float violates his or her private convictions.

The above examples are hypothetical, but here are three that have already happened:

–You express disapproval of homosexual conduct and are summarily dismissed from your counseling degree program. This has happened to Julea Ward at Eastern Michigan University, and Jennifer Keeton at Augusta State University is under the same threat.

–Say you are a wedding photographer. A same-sex couple comes through your door demanding you provide photos for their commitment ceremony. You politely decline, stating that your religious convictions prevent you from entering into that contract. And you are promptly hauled before a human rights council. This happened to Elaine Huguenin in New Mexico.

–You object to your kindergartener being propagandized with a book titled King and King, which details the romance between two imaginary royal young men. You find yourself arrested and jailed when you go to your son's school to protest. This happened to David Parker in Massachusetts.

These things will become the norm in American life if the radical impulse to criminalize opposition to homosexuality is not thwarted.

As a candidate for president, Barack Obama pledged to bring "fundamental change" to America. He is doing that. Constitutional liberties that we have enjoyed for 219 years are being overthrown or reinterpreted with stunning speed.

Every poll shows Americans are resisting President Obama's agenda. But many in the mainstream media largely downplay these questions, dismissing them as mere "wedge issues."

For people of faith, these matters of faith and family go deeper. They are "bridge issues" that unite races and ethnicities, men and women, education and income groups.

The radical changes President Obama and his allies advocate threaten the America we love and the way we express our most deeply held moral and religious convictions. We will be neither silent nor inactive in the face of these challenges. With courtesy and civility but with unflinching determination, we will oppose them.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Tony Perkins.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Barack Obama • Homosexuality • Politics • Religious liberty

soundoff (265 Responses)
  1. Adele

    opps! Here is the link, Grant.


    August 18, 2010 at 11:44 pm |
    • Grant

      Sorry Adele, but people living 1000 years, procreating thousands of times and creating genetic diversity? Whoever wrote that needs to get their head checked.

      August 19, 2010 at 8:30 am |
  2. Adele


    Here are some answers to that same question (#2) that may help explain. Scroll halfway down, to the first largest post and read the following from there. Not saying they are right, just thought you may find them interesting

    August 18, 2010 at 11:42 pm |
  3. Adele

    THe Catholic Church is the one and only TRUE Church? Incorrect. The one and only true church is the BODY of CHRISTt...which is made up of ALL saved Christians.
    I am not trying to insult your beliefs, but I think you need to read this
    Roman Catholicism makes salvation a long, complicated process with no assurance of eternal life and forgiveness of all sin. Baptism, Mass, Confession, prayers to Mary and the Saints, good works, and purgatory are all added to faith in Christ. By contrast, the Bible teaches salvation by faith in Jesus Christ alone. Bible salvation is God's free gift to any sinner who believes that Christ died for their sins and rose again for their defense. Bible salvation gives immediate assurance of eternal life. No church ever saved anyone, but Christ can and will save everyone who will come and trust Him as their Saviour. Membership or faith in a church does not secure salvation for anyone, but trust Christ and Him alone and you will be saved for all eternity!
    I never did understand how the Catholic Church could preach Salvation as the Christian knows it, but then turns around and PRAYS for the soulls in Purgatory??? There is no time AFTER death to have a second chance and get into heaven. Btw..where did the purgatory come from..scripture?
    Catholics believe in Mortal and Vienial sin....Like the difference between your to good to go to hell..but not good enough to get into heaven...thus, purgatory..we will "pray" you in there (heaven)? Thats false teaching by the Catholic Church.
    Sin is sin, God says break one and you broke them all (talking about the 10 commandments) Thats why he says not to judge one another, for we are all guilty of sin.
    Catholics like to label thier sin
    1.Steal a candy bar....venial sin say 2 hail Marys
    2. Killed someone?? Ohhh thats a MORTL sin Hell bound
    Plus, whats with all the praying to statues and saints? Isn't that what God got ticked off at the Israelites for, back into the old testament? Thay wre worshipping golden calves and stuff?
    What about the Pope? He is called the HOLY FATHER? and people kiss his ring? Sounds pretty NOT like what Jesus would tell one to do. I mean not to disrespect your religion, but you always say to tell the truth...and I am trying to show you some.

    August 18, 2010 at 10:42 pm |
    • CatholicMom


      I will take one point at a time because it appears my words [when they are lengthy don’t make it on…].

      The Body of Christ, made up of all saved Christians? You mean, made up of the Baptized…which are born again people. Once marked with the mark of Baptism you never lose the mark and it shows you as a member of His Body. If a member of His Body does not produce good fruit [which is Christ working through us] the Father will do the pruning…so you can lose your salvation.

      The Bible tells us that the Church is without stain, wrinkle, or such…[which means no sin]….are you saying you are not a sinner? If you are not a sinner, you do not need a Savior.

      The Church is visible, not like a candle under a basket. The church that you refer to is the mystical body of Christ which is invisible. I cannot look at you and say, ‘There is the church’. I cannot look at an atheist and say, ‘There is the church’. You have no outward sign to show the world. The Church that I am referring to is the Catholic Church, very visible to the world. And the world hates the Catholic Church because it is not of the world. This is the Church which is the Bride of Christ….are you Christ’s Bride? I know you mean well, but someone has twisted verses of the Bible; the Bible tells you that you need to HEAR the Word of God and hear it from someone who has been SENT.
      I could go on but then it will be too long…..

      August 19, 2010 at 10:12 am |
    • CatholicMom


      You should never judge your soul or the soul of anyone else for that is totally God’s judgment to make.

      To say that you are 100% positive of your salvation is the sin of presumption. "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us," (1 John 1:8). Nowhere in the Bible does it say you are saved by Faith alone. We are to have Faith, Hope, and Charity [love].

      The parts of the Bible that speak about all the things you question….must not be in your Bible. They are in the Catholic Bible, the one that the Catholic Church put together around 300 years after the Resurrection of our Lord….the one that stood as the Bible until Martin Luther in the 1500’s took it and threw out Books, changed words, added words and subtracted words, and then others broke from him and did the same; the domino effect has been going on for a few hundred years now rendering a wide range of man-made images of the original Bible and over 30, 000 ecclesial communities claiming to ‘have the truth’. It is a man made mess because the Holy Spirit would not have established over 30,000 differing truths.

      If you want the Truth about Catholicism don’t go to HEAR about it from someone who hasn’t been SENT or read about it from someone who writes hate messages about Catholicism. There are true Catholic sites on the internet that are free for you to check out the Truth; don’t accept lies and deceptions to cloud your mind. If you wanted to find out about a Cadillac do you go ask the Ford dealer?

      August 19, 2010 at 11:27 am |
    • CatholicMom

      There is much for you on purgation of sin if you really care to know… google…. ‘catholic doctrine purgatory’. It has been a part of the Church from its earliest inception. The Catholics have been and still are the Christians….I am Christian because I am Catholic.

      The Church is the pillar and foundation of the Truth or did you think it was the Bible?

      I know you have said you are the church but I can see by your writings that you are not the pillar and foundation of Truth…you may have bits and pieces of Truth but where do you think you got those?

      August 19, 2010 at 1:09 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Since you believe that you are a member of Jesus Christ’s Body as I am…because of Baptism for me and because you say so for you,…you said…. [Bible salvation is God's free gift to any sinner who believes that Christ died for their sins and rose again for their defense. Bible salvation gives immediate assurance of eternal life.], did you know that satan believes and knows the same as you but he is not saved? The thing that kept him out of Heaven is that he refused to do the Father’s will, which you don’t think is necessary for your salvation either, only believing is all that is necessary for you. That is not what the Bible, Church, or Tradition teaches. It is believe and do the Father’s will for salvation through Jesus Christ.

      How do you do His will? Once you are Baptized and are a member of Jesus Christ’s Body, you must do the Father’s will by doing WORKS but it is not you but Christ working through you that makes the works acceptable.

      When do you think you are no longer a member of Jesus Christ’s Body? When you die? Dying to a Christian only means being cut off from God. Death has no hold on us because of Jesus Christ’s Resurrection. So if you are saved you remain in Him and Him in you. So you remain a Family Member as long as you are without sin on earth and are also still a Family Member in Heaven. Or do you think you are cut off once you get to Heaven?

      The point is, we can pray for members of our family here on earth and when we get to Heaven we can still pray for members of our family. We can ask members of our family to pray for us at any time. But those in Heaven do not need our prayers only those of us who are still journeying… The love never ceases…..

      Statues are not worshipped as gods; they are just reminders of people who lived virtuous lives and are great examples for us. We can ask them [not the statues but the persons they represent] to pray for us because they are members of Christ’s Body just as we are.

      A crucifix reminds me of Jesus’ great love for me.

      Do you have any pictures on your walls or shelves of your loved ones? Do you worship them? When I see you clinging to your Bible with your eyes closed and praying, is your Bible the thing you are worshipping? Are all those statues of former Presidents idols? Is money an idol?

      August 19, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
    • CatholicMom


      Jesus told the Apostles to go out to ALL the nations and teach what He taught them. How were they to do that being a mere hand full of men? They were to Baptize everyone. How could they do it in their life times?! Jesus told the Apostles that He would SEND the Paraclete to remain with them forever…bringing them to all the Truth because they could not bear it all just then. How was the Holy Spirit to remain with THEM for all time? It is by the succession of the Pope down through history, with Peter the first Pope for he was the one who was given the Keys to the Kingdom.

      By the time the Catholic Church had put the Bible under one cover, the Church had already had five Popes! [It was a 300 year span of time since Jesus Christ founded His Church.] Do you know how the Church decided which Books were the inspired Books and which were not? She recognized the Church in the inspired Words!

      You must have heard ‘call no man Father’ as you point to us calling the Pope our Holy Father.

      Of course we should call no man Father as in ‘God our Father’ and we know that God is our only Father as God. No other is God our Father.

      When we hear that Abraham is ‘the father to us all’ in Rom 4:16-17, we are not saying he is God. There are many verses where the Apostles refer to themselves as being a father to us. Jesus Himself called Abraham ‘father’ in Mt 3:9; we should imitate Jesus in all things. People were referred to as ‘children’ or ‘my child’ by the Apostles which would make them ‘father’ to us and this is why we call priests ‘Father’. We are their ‘children’ and we make up the family of God.

      The Pope is the Vicar of Christ and he stand in for Christ here on earth. Once a priest always a priest….Jesus Christ is our High Priest and thus the Pope is our Holy Father. Jesus Christ remains a priest through the Pope.

      August 19, 2010 at 3:23 pm |
  4. CatholicMom

    I cannot get #2 to post for you, Grant. I have written in many different ways but there is that one little 3 letter word that must be a dirty word, I guess. Washed my hands with soap but still could not get it typed out for you.

    August 18, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
  5. McCluck

    obviously i am mad panda lol

    August 18, 2010 at 3:28 pm |
  6. civiloutside

    It is not a sign of civil disobedience for a child to wear a pentagram any more than it is a sign of civil disobedience for a child to wear a cross, because neither are forbidden by the civil government (in fact, being religious symbols, the government is not allowed to forbid or encourage the display of either by private citizens). What it says about the parents could be anything from "They are of a non-Christian religion," to "They permit their child to explore their own spirituality," to "They are unaware what their child is wearing," to "They think it's a cute piece of jewelry that may not symbolize anything at all to them because all religions are false anyway."

    August 18, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
  7. McCluck

    o I’ll keep this short because I am busy. The value(s) being forced upon me is illogical decision making to be short. That can come in the shape of politicians catering to the religious, or from a religious politician. Anytime one makes a rule with no logical backing it is an unjust rule. There are Christian values that are just and there are values that are unjust. (“Just” meaning “logically derived”) A simple example is that murder is wrong and stem cell research is wrong. While I agree that murder is wrong (for other reasons than “god says so”) I do not agree that stem cell research is wrong. I do not attach any value to cells that have not differentiated into anything resembling a person. Perhaps I should have used the religious stance on gay marriage (since we no longer NEED a fetus to get stem cells though it is much easier.) and the fact that because it is seen as a sin and because of the religious majority, it is illegal. Need I go into what we are teaching in some schools?-Or abortion law? If anything, evidence would suggest that the abortion rate going up is inversely related to the crime rate. In other words, there is evidence that having an option for abortion is a good thing as long as you don’t insist that there is some magical value, bestowed by god, to the fetus. Since you cannot prove a god exists there is no logical backing for that and therefore it is unjust. There are many more examples. Call it conflation if you want, but you will never convince me that without religion we would have any reason to do some of the things we do.
    I accused tony of being gay because sometimes you see homophobia result from repressed homosexual desires. I followed it up by explaining how I see nothing wrong with being gay or even acting on gay desires. It makes no difference to me. It was however a cheap-shot that I shouldn’t have taken.
    The “Satan dwelling within your church” comment was a reference to the fact that in the bible it talks about how satan will dwell even within the church. I do not believe in satan and I do not believe that Tony is a part of your church specifically. Sorry for the confusion. I just think he is one extreme example of what religion can do to people. I’m actually more convinced that he is spreading ideology and may not even believe some of the things he says. After all, some of the organizations he works for are hate groups in my book.
    I didn’t keep it very short did i…

    August 18, 2010 at 3:23 pm |
  8. CatholicMom

    Yes, I think there are becoming less and less fence riders however, I am not certain that those that hop off the fence to the left side really realize what they have just done. Some say, I myself don’t believe in abortion as right, but I think it is okay for someone else who thinks it is okay for them. They don’t realize that they will never help others see the damage it does to a life by holding their hand and saying it is okay, if you want to have an ab . tion, go ahead, I’m with you. They are participating in it with that attitude.

    The same goes for same ‘e’ persons marriages. They say it is not for themselves, because they would not think of taking the Sacrament of Matrimony and twisting it to accommodate something that is not true but they are willing to say some others can do that and it is okay.

    No, Truth is Truth, and no amount of twisting it to accommodate all kinds of differing opinions does not work. Look at the reformation that Martin Luther started…..it has now gotten to over 30,000 differing Truths by all the splittings and pullings-away since the 1500’s. We know there is only One Truth and that the Holy Spirit did not give all these ecclesial communities a different Truth.

    So when someone decides to jump off the fence they best turn towards the Truth then leap for joy!

    August 18, 2010 at 2:41 pm |
  9. James

    How does stretching and bending the truth and facts square with your religious beliefs? The President has also used the term "freedom of religion," and stressed upholding First Amendment rights. Have stupid people done stupid things around the country? Certainly, nothing new there. I have witnessed Christian teachers belittling or treating students badly who wear pentagrams or in some way show a disbelief in Christainity, they are wrong too. Why is the conservative religious-right so eager to fan the flames of religious hatred and intolerance?

    August 18, 2010 at 7:47 am |
    • Guest

      A lie cannot change the Truth; or do the actions of a few speak louder than words? Is it a sign of civil disobedience when a child wears a pentagram to school; or what does that say about the guardians? Are we coming into in the age where there are fewer and fewer fence riders?

      August 18, 2010 at 1:56 pm |
  10. Monty

    Obama is moving this house thats foundation was up on the solid rocks down to the sand of the beach and we are going to get destroyed as a country and going to fall apart... Luckily I will always have my faith and they can throw me in jail the rest of my life. I will always love God and be true to my faith.

    August 18, 2010 at 7:40 am |
  11. sealchan

    Perhaps for many religious conservatives, their fear of homosexuality stems from a fear to question the Bible, or even to put it into historical context. This fear is, in turn, perhaps, a fear to undermine the basis of their own power and position in society, the security of their own cherished beliefs, no matter what impact it has on the psychological, social and legal reality of others. I wonder what Mr. Perkins has to say about the infallability of Old Testament morality?

    August 17, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
  12. Ric Brown

    This is another example of the unabashed hypocrisy of the "Christian right".

    "The word to millions of believers–Evangelicals, Catholics, Lutherans, Orthodox Jews–is this..."

    Did you forget someone Mr. Perkins? Do you feel that religious freedom should only apply to Christians and Jews? How do you define THAT as FREEDOM? Only a shallow, narrow, egocentric mind could define it so.

    How ironic that you would write this at a time when much of your ilk is actively engaged in suppressing the religions rights of American Muslims.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:09 pm |
    • Ric Brown

      "religions rights" should be "religious rights"

      August 17, 2010 at 4:11 pm |
  13. Wise Texan

    I really wish people would read the Constitution before quoting it incorrectly. There is no article, or ammendment to the Constitution that calls for the separation of church and state. It does however, specifically state that there is to be a SEPARATION BETWEEN THE POWERS OF CHURCH AND STATE, which is not the same thing. This is a huge part of why we keep having the argument over this and every other religous issue.

    August 17, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
  14. Wise Texan

    The real problem at hand is that we have misinterpreted the founder fathers design for the separation of the powers of church and state. The fact that the Constitution itself references God, and the penal code of every state is based on the 10 Commandments, are representative of the Judeo-Christian prinicpals shared by our founding fathers. They never wanted the new country to be subjected to religous tyranny as what happened to England for nearly 300 years. The Roman Catholic church had become the seat of power in those days, and because of corrupt leadership the church sanctioned heinous crimes against humanity all in the name of God. Our law is based on principals and precepts from Judeo-Christianity, juris civilus, French Civil Code, and the Code of Hamurabbi. It's this mixture of that makes our law fair and flexible. I believe that LGBTG's should be afforded all the rights and privileges that the law of this country guarantee them. If you're a Christian then you live by the code of conduct that God has laid out for you, which includes not passing judgement. Pray for all who have not come into faith, and love all people as Christ has loved us.

    August 17, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
  15. Dave

    Tony Perkins is morally reprehensible bigot and why CNN would give this horrible, horrible person a forum to spread his bile is beyond me. He claims to be christian, but his words and actions show a man who is deeply mired in abject hatred towards the glbt community. Once again in this piece we see that the only beliefs that matter are his and anyone who thinks differently, even other christians, are "held captive by the enemy" and somehow violating his first amendment rights. Tony, go away you don't matter anymore.

    August 17, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
  16. Rob Tisinai

    Tony Perkins is such a liar. Dave Parker was not arrested when he showed up at his son's school to protest the use of a book. He was able to make his views known without being arrested. Unfortunately, he refused to leave school grounds after closing hours and the cops had to take him away. I mean, what do YOU think should happen to a man who shows up at a school and refuses to leave?

    Tony, you'd have more credibility if you were able to make your case honestly.

    August 17, 2010 at 10:58 am |
  17. Bill Morgan

    catholicmom,Jesus said to share the gospel,not force it down peoples throat. GOD cannot be forced on anyone.what did Jesus say? do not judge,do not fear. Modern christianty teaches fear,Jesus said do not fear. Where is this teaching of fear coming from, Jesus?

    August 17, 2010 at 10:07 am |
  18. Jeremy Hooper/Goodasyou

    Here's what annoys me: Tony Perkins is on record in more than one sermon claiming that gays are being "held captive the enemy." He's also claimed that this nation's Commander in Chief is "willing to jeopardize our nation’s security to advance the agenda of the radical homosexual lobby." And his organizational subordinate, Peter Sprigg, has pointedly stated that LGBT people should be either criminalized or exported from the Unite States! Also, for a FRC webcast, Tony recently booked a DADT "expert," Bryan Fischer, who has claimed that only gays were savage enough for Hitler and that because of this, "homosexuals in the military gave us...six million dead Jews" (among many other outrageous claims).

    Those are some pretty jaw-dropping charges that unabashedly dehumanize LGBT people and their allies - charges that have all gone down under Tony's watch/embrace. But of course when he gets in more mainstream forums like this one, he puts on a more staid suit. He goes on and on about this instance or that instance (all cases filtered through far-right spin), when the fundamental reality is that he simply does not want gay people included as part of the spectrum of normalcy!

    He should just say "My Take: 'Gays are being held captive by the enemy'" and call it a day. It would sum up all that follows and save us all a lot of time.

    August 17, 2010 at 10:05 am |
  19. DaveM710

    I have missed the author's point on this. Freedom of religion, either you are for or against it. You cannot pick and choose what religion you wish to support
    . Is it the Presidents fault that in a few isolated cases people were arrested, sued or fired because they hate homosexuality? Frankly most of these cases are pretty sketchy, if your a counselor and you tell gays,
    "I cannot counsel you as I think you going to burn in hell" that should disqualify you from counseling gay people, and sad thing is you do not get to choose who to give counseling to. If you go to a school and threaten people for whatever reason and get arrested, well it does not matter what your problem is, the problem is you threatened and frightened people. As for the photographers case, I think that was thrown out for simple stupidity. I think this is called 'building a straw man" your argument against building a moslem community center near ground zero based on a few people who's bigotry of gays got them in trouble is not logical.

    August 17, 2010 at 1:31 am |
  20. Jo-ann

    Jesus said: "My kingdom is not part of this world"
    He never gave an opinion on political matters of his time. Why people that call themself "Christians" have to be interfering on state issues of any county?
    About the photographer, If taking pictures at a homosexual union is against her beliefs, why she have to do it?
    Go and find another photographer that doesnt't have a problem with it. Period.

    August 16, 2010 at 11:36 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.