Pope Francis, Ted Cruz, and Religious Liberty

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18)

The "church" Jesus refers to is the Way to heaven. And the "rock" foundation needed for the Way to prevail is rock-solid consistency, which Jesus saw as Simon's future potential.

Pope Francis, heir to Peter's bishopric in Rome, has called all Catholics to champion religious liberty. "Religious freedom is a fundamental human right," Francis said recently. "Each individual must be free, alone or in association with others, to seek the truth, and to openly express his or her religious convictions, free from intimidation and external compulsion."

But is it enough to call for only religious liberty? 

Senator Ted Cruz, who is competing to become the Republican Presidential nominee, also speaks of religious liberty, daring to call a gate of hell ... a gate of hell. He declares, "There is a liberal fascism that is going after Christian believers. Today’s Democratic Party has become so radicalized .... there is no longer any room for religious liberty." Cruz is one of many Christians helping to waken people to the need to stand strong for religious liberty.

But Cruz doesn't stop there. He takes a stand for liberty in many other respects, almost as if something inside him is beginning to ask, "What good is religious liberty if we don't have liberty in other areas?"

Freedom vs. dictatorship was the same conflict faced by men and women in ancient Judea. Roman rulers granted the Jews religious liberty, but controlled their lives in every other way. Each day John the Baptist and his cousin, Jesus, saw the common sense of individual liberty and responsibility struggling against the kind of insanity our modern world knows as "fascism." 

Today we hear Roman Catholic leaders lament about government demanding that Catholics pay for contraceptives for people who engage in sex not for love and family creation, but for lustful body-pleasure and the avoidance of family responsibility. But Jesus would say the real problem is about much more than contraceptives.

We hear Baptist leaders and their brother and sister Mormons bemoaning political attempts to redefine marriage, with government deciding who can be licensed to marry. Jesus would laugh at the insanity of government licenses for marriage, but he would know the deeper issue is far more than political interference in people's love lives.

Even a few leaders of the Methodist Church cringe when they see government policies facilitating the killing of not yet fully developed babies. Jesus would of course shed tears over fetus killing, yet he would understand the real magnitude of political abuse is much greater than that of government-aided abortion.

The Democratic Party's fascist dictatorship referred to by Senator Cruz is definitely more all-pervading than these few searing social issues.

The real trouble is one group of people of a particular mindset using government to force their objectives on everyone.  It's the same as if a particular religion were to use government to force its values on everyone.

The liberal-progressive ideology (which Benito Mussolini gave the label "fascism") is held religiously by Democratic Party leaders. These Democrats worship the good intentions of their Utopian idealism. Their desired objectives serve as their gods. And like misguided Catholic and Lutheran inquisitors of old, they believe they are justified in using their political power to force their Utopian goals on everyone "for their own good."

Maybe it was Saint Bernard of Clairvaux who gave rise to the proverb: "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." But it was Jesus speaking to Peter who told us how the gates of hell are prevailed against.

Ted Cruz and Pope Francis in their fight for religious liberty are heroes to Jesus. But we can also imagine the gentle voice of Jesus guiding them to total consistency: "The Way to heaven is not built on religious liberty alone. In order to learn from their mistakes and allow course corrections as they find the Way to heaven, men and women must be free from all political coercion. They must 'build their inner church,' so to speak, in a political climate of consistent liberty across the board, liberty in every respect, the total absence of government forcing them into seemingly well-intentioned Utopian schemes."

Of course, Democratic Party leaders like to pretend their programs are "government by the people," but programs forced on people against their will are not "by the people." Dictatorship by any other name is no less dictatorship.

In His modern revelation for the 21st Century, Jesus Christ reminds each and every one of us of the need to hold to Peter's rock-solid consistency: "Freedom cannot be learned by tyranny of ANY kind, and the perfect equality of all cannot be recognized through the dominion of one will over another."

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"...nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:21)

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