During CPAC among the up and coming “political rock stars” like Ben Carson, Marc Rubio and Rand Paul there was a speech that I felt wasn’t given enough attention. Eric Metaxas, known for his bestselling books like Bonhoeffer and his Prayer Breakfast speech of 2012, made a compelling speech at CPAC on religious freedom. I too overlooked it until I revisited the text of his speech and realized just what is at stake for our country if we neglect to uphold the First Amendment to our constitution. What brought me back to his speech was basically a cup of coffee. Let me explain…
Last week the CEO of Starbucks was in the news, yet again, for his endorsement for same sex marriage. He was quoted as telling a shareholder to “invest somewhere else” if he didn’t like their pro-stance on same sex marriage. Last year, Starbucks came out and endorsed the Washington state bill on legalizing same sex marriage, which prompted a boycott and a fall in sales and profits. Immediately, after this recent announcement, I began to see boycotting links and friends urging me to uphold the sanctity of marriage and boycott Starbucks. Do I really have to give up a good cup of coffee because I disagree with Starbucks’ definition of marriage? I have never really seen the benefit of boycotting and its effect on change. Then I remembered Eric Metaxas’ speech on religious freedom and realized that this boycott is more than just about a cup of coffee.
It would be easy to walk in to Starbucks, order my latte and be perfectly camouflaged in my position on where I stand on same sex marriage. However here’s the important part of this scenario. Starbucks is taking my money and using it in the judicial courts to legally change the definition of marriage. Legally redefining marriage is a threat to my religious belief and, as it is being debated now in the Supreme Court, it is a threat to my religious freedom. Past experience has shown what can happen when the courts rule in favor against a religiously held belief and force it upon a religious establishment. The recent example is the HHS Mandate and the government requirement to provide contraceptives and abortion services. Metaxas’ speech spoke of this type of threat and the issue at stake if we neglect to uphold our freedom of religion.
So that overpriced cup of coffee is not only paying to support gay marriage, it is also being paid out in courts so that the state and governing bodies can decide that my whole moral belief system—along with biblical and religious values of my faith–are wrong. The first amendment was created to prohibit this overreaching of government into our religious expression. The over-used and incorrect notion of the “separation of church and state” is playing out in front of us through a coffee shop. Metaxas noted in his speech:
“Today we often hear that it (separation of church and state) means that the state needs to be protected from religion, and that religion should have no place in government or society. Jefferson and the Founders thought the opposite. They knew that the State was always tempted to take over everything-including the religious side of people’s lives. So they put a protection in the Constitution that the government could not favor any religion over another.”
So the boycotting of Starbucks is much more than a rejection of same sex marriage. It really is the equivalent of keeping my faith in the public square and reminding those who stand with me that we still have freedom of religion in this country.
Metaxas’ speech reminded me that my faith is not contained within the walls of the church in which I worship but is rather a reflection of how I choose to live in this country. A freedom so valued by our Founding Fathers that they put a protection in place so it wouldn’t be denied.
Starbucks is promoting their own secular religion and they are demanding that it takes precedence over my faith. So will I be boycotting Starbucks and passing up a tall latte just because I don’t believe in same sex marriage? No. But I will be boycotting because I will not let a corporation decide the fate of my religious freedom simply because they want the definition of marriage to be legally redefined. My faith determines my freedom; and while I might not shout that out in the center of town, I can decide to not buy a cup of coffee to prove it.
To read the actual text of Eric Metaxas’ 2013 C-PAC speech, go to: www.ericmetaxas.com .