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Principled Ideas from the Centennial Institute
Volume 9, Number 7 • July 2014
Publisher, William L. Armstrong
By Ryan T. Anderson
For years, a central argument of
those in favor of same-sex marriage
has been that all Americans should
be free to live and love as they
choose. But why should that
freedom require the government
to coerce those who disagree into
celebrating same-sex relationships?
In growing number of incidents
in the wedding industry and with adoption agencies,
the redefnition of marriage and state policies on sexual
orientation have created a climate of
intolerance and intimidation for citizens
who believe that marriage is the union of a
man and a woman and that sexual relations
are properly reserved for marriage.
These citizens are facing a new wave of
government coercion and discrimination.
State laws that create special privileges based on sexual
orientation and gender identity are being used to trump
fundamental civil liberties such as freedom of speech and
the free exercise of religion.
When Unwelcome Becomes Unlawful
These laws add sexual orientation and gender identity to
the list of protected classes such as race, sex, and national
origin. But these laws frequently fail to protect the civil
liberties of Americans, especially religious liberty. They
tend to be vague and overly broad without clear defnitions
of what conduct can and cannot be penalized.
Judgments can also be quite subjective, as when Boise and
other cities in Idaho have begun prohibiting even indirect
acts that might make another person feel that he or she is
being “treated as not welcome.”
Under newer laws, family businesses—from Elane
Photography in New Mexico to Arlene’s Flowers in
Oregon to Masterpiece Cakeshop right here in Lakewood,
Colorado—have been hauled into court because they
declined to provide services for a same-sex ceremony in
violation of their religious beliefs. Although Americans
are free to live as they choose, no one should demand
By Everett Piper
Once upon a time there was a
prominent rancher who had a son.
Even though the boy had everything
he needed, he approached his
father one day and said, “Dad, I
am suffocating under your rules. It
is time for me to move out, get my
own place, and live the way I want.”
So the young man packed his bags
and left. He moved to the city and got his own apartment.
There, the son began squandering his entire inheritance.
He had his freedom. He had his money.
He wasted it all by living his own way.
About that time a severe recession
occurred in the land. The son had nothing
left. He was hurting. Out of necessity, he
got a job as a garbage collector and began
scavenging in back alley dumpsters in an
effort to survive.
Brought to His Senses
This all fnally brought the son to his senses and he was
forced to admit: “All the ranch hands back home are at least
sitting down to three meals a day and here I am starving
to death because of my pride and foolishness! I am going
This parable—the story of the prodigal son—causes me to
think about today’s colleges and universities and about the
broader state of education in our nation.
I think of higher education’s birthright and inheritance as
seen in the original mission statements of many of our
nation’s seminal institutions: There was Harvard with its
Christo et Ecclesia, “For Christ and the Church.” Or Princeton
Continued on Page 2
Continued on Page 3
Ryan T. Anderson is the William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and a Free So-
ciety at The Heritage Foundation. Everett Piper is the president of Okla-
homa Wesleyan University. These essays are adapted from their addresses
to a faculty convocation at Colorado Christian Universiity on April 4, 2014.
Centennial Institute sponsors research, events, and publications to enhance
public understanding of the most important issues facing our state and nation.
By proclaiming Truth, we aim to foster faith, family, and freedom,
teach citizenship, and renew the spirit of 1776.
that government coerce others into celebrating their
relationship. Protecting religious liberty and the rights of
conscience does not infringe on anyone’s sexual freedoms.
All Americans should remain free to believe and act in the
public square based on their beliefs about marriage without
fear of government penalty.
Part of the genius of the American system of
government is its commitment to protecting
the liberty and First Amendment freedoms
of all citizens while respecting their equality
before the law. The government protects the
freedom of citizens to seek the truth about
God, to worship according to their conscience, and to live
out their convictions in public life. Likewise, citizens are
free to form contracts and other associations according to
their own values.
Let Markets Harmonize Values
While the government must treat everyone equally, private
actors are left free to make reasonable judgments and
distinctions—including reasonable moral judgments and
distinctions—in their economic activities. Legislators
should impose substantial burdens on sincere religious
beliefs only when the government proves that imposing
such a burden is necessary to advance a compelling
government interest (and does so by the least intrusive or
Competitive markets can best harmonize a range of values
that citizens hold. There is no need for government to try
to force every photographer and every forist to service
every marriage-related event.
Those who make decisions based on moral and religious
Centennial Review, July 2014 ▪ 2
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CENTENNIAL REVIEW is published monthly by the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University. The authors’ views are not necessarily
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- John Andrews, Director
views may well pay a price in the market, perhaps losing
customers and employees, but such choices should
remain lawful. Freedom of association and freedom of
contract are two-way streets. They entail the freedom to
choose with whom to associate and on what terms, as
well as with whom to contract and for what goods.
Work-life and Faith-life
Many of the family businesses cited above understand
their professions to be extensions of their faith-life. For
them, celebrating a same-sex relationship as a marriage
affrms that relationship. It is understandable that some
religious believers would not want the government to
coerce them into doing that.
The government should not be in the position of
determining who is right or wrong about baking cakes
or taking photographs of same-sex ceremonies. There
is no need to hold the same beliefs as the owners of
Masterpiece Cakeshop or Elane Photography to
recognize that both should have the freedom to run
their businesses in accordance with their
values—and without fear of reprisal from
Government should respect those who
stand for marriage as the union of a man
and a woman. Even in jurisdictions that
have redefned marriage, individuals and businesses that
believe marriage is between a man and a woman should
be free to live in accord with their moral and religious
What the Obamas Said
Even President Barak Obama, when he “evolved” on the
issue in 2012, insisted that the debate about marriage was
a legitimate one and that there were reasonable people of
goodwill on both sides.
Respecting religious liberty for all of those in the
marketplace is particularly important. For as First Lady
Michelle Obama has said, “Religious faith isn’t just about
showing up on Sunday. It’s about what we do Monday
through Saturday as well.”
At the federal level, Congress has an opportunity to protect
religious liberty and the rights of conscience. Policy
should prohibit the government from discriminating
against any individual or group, whether nonproft or
Continued on Page 3
Freedom frosted: Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop
ANDERSON: RELIGIOUS FREEDOM UNDER SIEGE
back alley dumpsters of binge drinking, date rape, the
recreational use and abuse of women, escalating suicide
rates, and the pandemic explosion of STDs.
I also think of our Father, His provisions and His
teachings, of veritas (Truth)—the only word now surviving
from Harvard’s early affrmation on its school shield: “If
you hold to my teachings…you shall know the truth and
the truth shall set you free.”
Finally, I think of “home” and its safety, security, and the
true freedom we have under our Father’s roof as opposed
to the subjugation we experience in the house-of-cards we
have constructed by our own delinquency and rebellion.
In the original story of the prodigal son we are told,
“Not long after squandering his birthright, there was a
bad famine in the land and the son began to hurt. Having
nothing left but his ‘own way,’ this young man began
working in the felds to slop pigs and he resorted to eating
corncobs in the pig slop just to survive” (Luke 15:14-16).
I don’t know about you but as an educator who has
degrees from three different universities similar to those
cited above, I look at the academic world in which I now
live, and I have to ask myself a few questions.
Pig Slop and Corncobs
Has having our own way resulted in what we expected
when we told our Father we wanted to move out of His
house? Did we get what we wanted when
we spent our inheritance? Is our chosen
path what we hoped for?
Have our dreams of independence led us
where we expected—or have we stumbled
into a nightmare, wading in felds of pig
slop and eating the corncobs of abuse, dysfunction,
selfshness, and addiction?
Did we get the freedom we wanted, or have we actually
become slaves to our own childish irresponsibility? Could
it be Dad was smarter than we thought He was all along?
with its Vitam Mortuis Reddo, “I restore life to the dead.” And
there was Yale’s expressed goal for its students “to know
God in Jesus Christ and…to lead a Godly, sober life.”
I think of academia’s prodigal path where public and private
colleges and universities across our land, contrary to their
founding creeds—very similar to those cited above—have
implemented religious speech codes and, thereby, effectively
excluded traditional ethics and historical orthodoxy from
being freely discussed on their respective campuses.
I look upon faculty members and teachers who have
been ostracized or even denied tenure because they dared
to assume they could engage in open debate on such
“controversial matters” as human origins, religious freedom,
and sexual morality.
I am grieved as I watch so many young adults suffer the
consequences of living their own way and eating from the
Centennial Review, July 2014 ▪ 3
for-proft, based on their beliefs that marriage is the union
of a man and woman or that sexual relations are reserved
for marriage. The government should be prohibited from
discriminating against such groups or individuals in tax
policy, employment, licensing, accreditation, or contracting.
Tolernace Promotes Civil Peace
The Marriage and Religious Freedom Act—sponsored by
Representative Raul Labrador (R–ID) in the House (H.R.
3133) with more than 100 co-sponsors of both parties and
sponsored by Senator Mike Lee (R–UT) in the Senate (S.
1808) with 17 co-sponsors—would prevent the federal
government from taking such adverse actions. Protecting
religious liberty and the rights of conscience fosters a
more diverse civil sphere. Indeed, tolerance is essential to
promoting peaceful coexistence even amid disagreement.
States need similar protections, starting with broad
protections provided by state-level Religious Freedom
Restoration Acts (RFRAs). These laws prevent the
imposition of substantial burdens on sincere religious
beliefs unless the state proves that such a burden advances
a compelling government interest that has been pursued
through the least restrictive means possible.
In a nation founded on religious freedom, government
should not attempt to coerce any citizen, association, or
business into celebrating same-sex relationships.
Americans also must work to see that marriage law refects
the truth about marriage. If marriage is redefned, pressure
will mount to characterize the belief that
virtually every human society has held about
marriage—that it is the union of a man and a
woman ordered to procreation and family life—
as an irrational prejudice that ought to be driven
to the margins of our culture. The consequences
for religious believers are becoming apparent. n
”Return of the Prodigal Son”
Rembrandt van Rijn, 1606-1669
PIPER: PRODIGALS IN ACADEMIA
Colorado Christian University
8787 W. Alameda Ave.
Lakewood, CO 80226
Return Service Requested
Centennial Review, July 2014 ▪ 4
It’s Back. Bigger Than Ever.
WESTERN CONSERVATIVE SUMMIT
Denver * July 18-20, 2014
“America at Its Best”
Groups Save 20%
Perhaps it is time for us to leave the corncobs behind and
just go home. A home implies a house with four walls. So
what are the walls and the basic structure of our Father’s
house? How can we recognize the house of a free society
and free man? What are the four walls of the classical
liberal arts academy?
Four Walls of Freedom
The human story clearly teaches us that
the architecture of the house of freedom,
the house of our Father that we have so
foolishly left behind, includes the stability
and aesthetic beauty of four things: Jesus
Christ, Scripture, Truth, and Wisdom.
Tradition, reason, experience, and revelation have shown us
that the societies that enjoy the greatest measure of liberty
throughout the course of human history have all held that
Jesus is the Son of God, the Bible is the Word of God,
truth is a revelation of God, and wisdom (encompassing
holiness, righteousness, and moral integrity) is prescribed
and demanded by God.
It is only in this house that mankind has enjoyed freedom.
It is only within these four walls that we have had liberty.
As G.K. Chesterton said, the beauty of the painting is
always found within the boundaries of the frame—thus
liberty is only realized within the confnes of law.
Never Give Up. Never!
I am here at Colorado Christian University today to cheer
you on, because you are on the right path and heading in
the right direction.
You are saying to the prodigals in academia, “Follow me
back to our Father’s house: a house that is safe, a home
where you will be healthy and well fed; a place
where you can be free from the consequences
of your own sin and the consequences of
the sins of the powerful, the prideful, and
Your mission is grounded in objective and
immutable truths. The four walls of Jesus, Scripture,
Truth, and Wisdom surround your campus and protect
your students. These walls give you freedom. Within them
your students fnd answers rather than merely shelter their
As Churchill said, never give up. Never! Be confdent in
Christ’s promise, “You shall know the truth and the truth
shall set you free.” Don’t hesitate and don’t grow weary.
Wave that CCU banner, and as you march forward, look
over your shoulder—you will be amazed how many people
are following. They are tired of having their own way, they
are weary of the pig slop and bondage their rebellion has
wrought. They want to go home. Show them the way! n
Summoning America Home
Essays by Everett Piper
and Ryan T. Anderson
‘America at its best,” the theme of
our upcoming Western Conservative
Summit, is defned by (among
other things) freedom of religion,
freedom of association, and freedom
of contract under a constitutionally
limited government—along with educational institutions
grounded in the reality of God, truth, and wisdom. Tis
month’s authors warn of grave dangers to both, and point the
way to safety: the road home.
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